What Would Jesus Do (to discipline a child?)
Ever wonder if Jesus would spank? Would He use time-out? How would He handle discipline with tempestuous two year olds, sly seven year olds, and testy teen-agers? Many basic guidelines for discipline can be found in the way Jesus trained His disciples. And all of us, parents or not, can learn about the heart of God by observing the way Jesus taught. Here are five principles based on how Jesus taught His disciples.
Jesus nurtured. Jesus nurtured His flock by calling them away from the crowds into the wilderness for times of refreshment and by insuring that none of the disciples was taken into custody on the night of His arrest. His encouraging words at the Last Supper were incredibly tender expressions of confidence. Christ's nurturing produced relationships with each disciple. Relationship provided the strong connection that would be needed when Jesus had to employ admonition and rebuke.
Jesus set a standard of truth. Jesus told the disciples the truth, even when the truth was not pleasant. He told them they would have to pick up their cross and follow Him (Matt. 16:24), and that His followers must give up their rights (Matt. 8:22). Jesus made the rules of discipleship clear. As parents, we must make rules clear to our children. We must speak truth to them, even when the truth is not warm and fuzzy. Hard truth, spoken out of love, lays a firm foundation.
Jesus explained things that were hard to understand. A mark of Jesus‟ ministry was His willingness to explain spiritual truth to the sincere questioner. The „rich young ruler‟ came asking what he needed to do to be saved, and Jesus gave him an answer he was unwilling to hear. Jesus even answered the questions and challenges of skeptics. Though many questions were intended to trap Him, Jesus answered them. To set a clear standard of behavior, a parent must explain truth clearly and answer hard questions honestly.
Jesus admonished promptly. The words of Jesus often pierced the tough hides of His followers. In one of His sharpest rebukes, He said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan: you are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's.” (Matthew 16:23) Only moments before, Jesus had commended Peter for his spiritual insight. From this we see that a parent must respond to wrong behavior immediately, and cannot let wrong behavior go unaddressed. As human parents we sometimes punish when we are in a bad mood and become permissive when we are in a good mood. Parents must admonish with consistency, and always in the spirit of love.
Jesus admonished for the right reasons. It is particularly instructive to study the reasons Jesus admonished His disciples. Jesus rebuked them for lacking faith, for standing in the way of the needy, for criticizing a woman's act of worship, and for boasting of their devotion. Jesus did not just point out the outwardly visible sins of the disciples but exposed their wrong heart attitudes-- unbelief, insensitivity, a critical spirit, and pride. Parents must correct not only misbehavior, but their children's hearts too. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7.