Sheep are not known to be terribly fierce. They’re not frightful beasts. And where the popular culture paints children as terrors to be cordoned off, caged or relegated to “the kids’ table”, Jesus regards them as important members of His flock. While the Bible teaches us “spare the rod; spoil the child”, it also tells us not to provoke them to wrath. So, what do we do?
Simple. Sheperd their hearts. When a sheep is sick, the Shepherd anoints its head with oil. When the sheep wander off, eyes to the ground, chowing grass, and led astray by its own appetite, it may find itself precariously perched in a dangerous place or entangled in thorns. The Shepherd goes after it with a staff designed to free them from self-imposed harm. When the sheep is nosing around in a bush known for its toxic berries, the Shepherd may hurl the rod to save it from sudden disaster. But He does so with urgency and care; it’s personal. It’s loving. It’s not reckless.
Discipline is designed to disciple (instructive). Rebuke is intended to repair (restorative). It has been said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” (caring)
We’ve been urged, instructed and implored to train our children the “why” behind the “what”, to look them in the eye and take the low, quiet tone as often as possible. We have been reminded that “rules without relationship lead to rebellion.” So, every correctional conversation points in the direction of building character. We’ll often ask “How does what you did build great character?” Guiding the flock toward these green pastures spurs them on toward what is good for them.
When our children hear us speak in calm, loving voices, they quickly discern that we are in control of our emotions and not reprimanding them in anger. Guiding the flock with this demeanor reinforces that shepherding is safe and for their safety.
In the case above, our youngest daughter needed to identify what specific emotion she was feeling in order to advocate for herself against her offender (aka big sister). Once she could articulate that she’d felt rejected by her older sister, Daddy was able to apply the oil of Scripture on the wound.
“Do you know that even if your sister rejects you that God will never forsake you?”
If the punishment must fit the crime, remember in discipline, the “cleanser must fit the grime.” Use appropriate Scriptures to cleanse their interpersonal wounds and they’ll reach for them the next time they’re wounded. Sheep need Shepherds for sustenance, for care, for correction, and ultimately, for protection. Let us love and lead our children with that in mind.
Sincerely, from a Father of Four