Discipline or Disciple?

I walk in the door from teaching ladies Bible study. It is 10 pm. I’m spent. . .emotionally, physically, and mentally. But my soul has been nourished from time in the Word.

Thoughts of walking into my quiet house delight me! The kids should all be in bed. . .and hopefully asleep by now!

As I enter the kitchen, disappointment awaits me. One of the kids is up waiting for me. My idea of a nice, quiet evening disappears quickly!

I fight the selfishness rising within my spirit. . .the irritation of having to deal with problems. . .and the frustration of losing my quiet evening.

She looks at me with big tears in her eyes. “Mom, I need to talk to you about what happened tonight.”

I feel my spirit soften with gentleness. God has been kindly working in my heart over the last few weeks in a specific area of parenting.

This idea of “discipline” or “disciple”.

My kids are getting older. . .and requiring more of me. More time to talk, more time to listen, and more time to patiently disciple their hearts!

The early years of parenting bring physical exhaustion. The middle years seem to be more of a “sweet spot.” And I find myself entering a new season of the preteen/teen years which bring an emotional and spiritual awareness.

I suddenly remember why she is still up and waiting to talk with me. She made a poor choice in her actions at the dinner table. And I left for Bible study before things were resolved from the incident.

Through tears, she begins to confess, take ownership for her actions, and ask for forgiveness.

My first instinct is to discipline quickly and put her to bed. This seems the easiest and quickest way to deal with her actions. . .and achieve my dream of a quiet evening.

But is that best? Am I reaching and teaching her heart? Or simply correcting behavior? Discipline or disciple?

I’m so thankful that God put His Spirit within me at the time of my salvation. Oh, how I need His Spirit to soften my heart and lead me away from my own selfishness.

In this parenting moment, I felt God gently lead me to disciple her heart. Discipling requires more of me. . .and much more of Christ in me! I willingly submit to His leading.

So we proceed to discuss heart motives for her behavior, reasonable consequences, and future expectations. We remind ourselves of the grace that God gives us. We talk of the Cross and forgiveness that flows freely. We talk Scripture. We pray. We cry. We hug. We reconcile. It is a sweet time with my girl.

I am growing daily in God’s grace. I am not a perfect parent by any means! But I long to disciple my child’s heart. . .not only discipline actions.

Jesus poured Himself into the lives and hearts of His disciples. He sacrificed for them. He gave His time. He invested His energy. He prayed for them. He taught them. He led by example. He desired that their hearts belong to Him. . .the Way, the Truth, and the Life!

Oh, how I long to pattern my life after His! And how I desire that my children really know and understand the love and grace of their Heavenly Father!

What about you? Do you find it easier to discipline or disciple? What is God teaching you in your parenting?

I would love to hear your comments on this topic!




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