The past few blogs have centered on annoying habits such as interrupting, arguing, screaming, whining and complaining. How much of your daily parental efforts wind up being thwarted by these disruptive behaviors? Just think how differently your home would feel if your children instead learned to wait their turn, to thoughtfully express their emotions and to respectfully state their needs and wants!
Does that sound too good to be possible?
It shouldn’t be. Kids can and should learn these skills but your approach will make all the difference in (1) what actually transpires as well as (2) whether their improvements in behavior flow from a heart change or merely in order to get what they want, to avoid punishment or to gain your approval.
We can threaten and bribe. We can yell and scream. We can try to scare them into compliance. But we might lose their hearts in the process and that’s a steep price to pay.
In Ephesians 6:4 we are told to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord Jesus. What does that practically look like?
This is what I imagine:
- Gentle but not weak
- Consistent but not legalistic
- Gracious but holding to standards
- Patient but not excusing
- Corrective but not criticizing
- Self-controlled but not controlling
Which of these speaks to you today?
Recently for me it’s been the concept of gentleness. To be gentle, yet not weak. The opposite of gentle is to be harsh. Irritable. Severe. When I am running late or get inconvenienced, when I am feeling discouraged or disappointed, gentleness does not come easy. These are vulnerable times for me when my response can be far from gentle. But I am working on it.
When I think of gentle people, I think of those who have a strong inner sense – a calm, self-controlled manner. One person who comes to mind is my sweet daughter-in-law Stevi. With all four of her young children clamoring for her attention, Stevi doesn’t appear to be ruffled and instead directs her children with a gentle, yet firm, hand. I think of Psalm 18:35 which says “His gentleness makes me great.” This is both grace and truth in harmonious tension.
Here’s a few verses on gentleness:
Titus 3:2 – To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
Psalm 18:35 – You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.
James 3:17 – But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Proverbs 15:1 – A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Galatians 6:1 – Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Matthew 11:29 – Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.