As my children grow and increase in comprehension, I’m finding myself talking more and more to them about the gospel and how it relates to their disobedience. Naturally, our discipline sessions get longer and longer. Even though it’s quite time consuming and emotionally laborious, I truly believe it’s beneficial that my children know how the gospel relates to them in everyday life.
Recently I had a conversation with one of the kids. Once again, an act of unkindness towards one of his siblings is manifested in tears and sadness so we sat down to talk. I probed and asked questions trying to help him understand the reason behind his unkindness. When such kind of questions are asked, the most favorite and easy answer is “I don’t know.” Such an answer is not helpful and can be frustrating at times as I’m trying hard to seek to understand. I’ve now made it a rule that an “I don’t know” answer is not allowed and so far it’s been working out quite well because it forces the child to think deeper. I also allow time for the child to come up with an answer by communicating that I’m willing to sit and wait. No matter how bad the answer may be, I want to know it. There’s no need to sugar coat the answer. Usually the child is able to come up with an answer.
Once we’ve got an answer, we can begin addressing the issue. Sometimes I’m a bit taken back by the rawness of the answer (e.g., “I don’t like my sister”), but at the same time I am grateful for it because it tells me that the child is being honest with himself. I’m learning to identify with my child in acknowledging that I too, struggle with the root issue of his conflict with this siblings. As much as he is a sinner, so too, I’m a sinner who sins and can identify with him. However, we don’t just stop here. I point him to Christ and tell him that his unkind act tells him that he needs a Savior. The good news is that Christ died for his sins. We can look to Christ with hope. Jesus’ magnitude of love and sacrifice for us should compel us to live a righteous life. After such discussion, I pray for him.
Whenever my children need a disciplinary action, I want to remind them their need of the Savior and the gospel. I really appreciate Tim Keller’s words about the gospel in The Reason for God, and I hope that you will dwell on it with a deep appreciation for Christ.
The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.