Step One In Disciplining Your Kids

A. W. Tozer explains the psychology of sin as a person who has no fear of God. When people no longer fear God, they sin against God’s laws without hesitation. Even the fear of consequences is no deterrent when the fear of God is gone.

Such is the reason we should teach our children to fear God before we teach them right behavior. It makes the process of discipline much smoother.

Fear is so much more than trembling with fright, it’s a devoted love that chooses to honor, obey and trust God and nothing else.

This fear is the beginning of all knowledge and wisdom in which a child needs to be successful and be a blessing in this life.

Choose step one in disciplining your kids: At an early age teach them to walk in the fear of God.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Proverbs 1:7).


What to do When Your Child is in Sin? A Controversial Approach

Robbie keeps returning to the same misbehavior over and over as a child. Without any discipline, he learns that he can get out of whatever he does wrong without any consequence. As he becomes a teenager, he begins to delve into sinful habits of stealing. At every turn, he will steal from his friends, then he graduates to small stores, and then finally, he goes bigger as he breaks into homes taking large items. He finds that he’s successful until one day; he steals from the wrong home. The cops swarm his house, handcuff him and take him in. His parents are horrified. Instead of facing the consequences, they look for a way out for Robbie; they hire a lawyer who gets Robbie off the hook. His parents figure, “It’s his first offense. Surely he won’t do it again.” But with no real consequence Robbie learns he can continue to return his sin and never pay the cost for it. His parents pacify him, excuse his behavior. The horror of him sitting in jail was too much for his mother. She couldn’t bear it, so she and her husband did all they could to avoid this very important lesson in life,  discipline is good for it produces holiness in us.

If parents make light of the consequences of their children’s sin, they are also making light of the grace of God that can save them.

One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to let them suffer the consequences of their actions. What our kids discover in this discipline is dryness, desolation and waterless places. This may seem horrible to a parent, but the reality is it’s a good place for our kids to be when they are trapped in sin. For it is in these places our children will find humility and true repentance. It’s here that God can reach down and pull them out of their pit. He can take them from this posture of brokenness and give them a new life with a new purpose.


As parents we may think that pulling our children out of their consequences is doing the right thing by them, but the truth of the matter is this: every time we rescue our kids out of their consequence we hinder them from coming to Jesus. Without realizing it, we teach them to depend on themselves and not on God and His truth. We teach them that their humanness is enough. And sadly, they find themselves in deeper pits as a result. When we enable them, we actually dig their pit for them.

God, Himself, disciplines those whom He loves. He doesn’t do this to harm us, He does this to help us. Hebrews 12:6-13 tells us, “For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child. As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children…God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”

God disciplines because He loves us. As parents we must discipline our children because we love them. Our discipline protects them from worse dangers; it teaches them to look up not within. Most parents want what is best for their kids, but some don’t realize that giving them the best requires some hard decisions. It’s not easy to let our kids suffer or to choose not to rescue them from their consequences. When we just look at the temporary we are not developing their future. We must look ahead for our kids for they surely are not doing so while they are in their state of sin.

As parents we can find our next steps in Hebrews 12:12-13, “So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”

These two verses are very much to the parent when dealing with a child that’s continually in sin. The Lord is calling you to do three things while your child suffers their consequences:

1.) Take a new grip. In other words, we must take a new approach to our child.We must discipline them or allow them to go through the hard time of paying for their mistakes; but while doing this, we love them. We give them hope by showing them the fruit that can come from this difficult time of suffering. We ask them the question, “What have you learned from this?” If they have learned nothing, we tell them what they could learn.

2.) Strengthen your weak knees. When we think we cannot bear to see our child suffer the consequences, we find our strength in the Lord. We draw upon His purpose for our child. As David says in Psalm 63:2, “Gaze on God in the sanctuary and see His strength and His glory.” This requires a great deal of prayer on our part. We must pray for our resolve to be in His plan, and pray for our child’s heart to come to a place of humility and repentance. And if our child doesn’t know Christ as their Savior, then we must pray for their hearts to be drawn to the Lord for it. Brokenness is the best place to discover our need for Jesus. Let us not rob this experience from our child by rescuing them from their penalty.

3.) Mark out a straight path for your feet. When we decide that we are going to do what is best for our child then we will strengthen the weak and the lame in our child. We will actually help them become strong enough go through the suffering and help them see a new path to follow when the time of sentencing is over.

Loving our children in the way they need our love is not always easy. It’s hard, but if we love them the way God loves us, we have the potential to see great fruit in them. One of my main goals as a mom was to raise children who loved and honored God and who were blessings to the society they lived among. To accomplish this, I needed the Lord to direct my paths and I needed some tough skin to make the hard decisions in my kid’s lives. I learned to not become weary with doing what is right; I believed that in the end I would produce a harvest of glory if I didn’t give up!

Parents, Discipline in God’s Love

“I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion and I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they went too far with the punishment” (Zechariah 1:14-15).

The Jewish people had been disobedient and unfaithful to their God for some time. Like children, they needed their Father in heaven to get them on the right path. In discipline, God sent them into captivity where the Gentile nations had enslaved them for seventy years. The nation of Israel suffered until they learned to repent, call upon God and seek Him with their whole heart. The seventy years were completed (discipline over), and God called his people out of bondage into a renewed relationship with him – a new chance at freedom and fruit.

However, take note that the Lord was angry with the nations He used to punish His people. Why? Because they went beyond the boundaries of punishment He required for his people. The Gentile nations were brutal and they tried to annihilate the Jews. Their intent was termination, but God’s intent was restoration.

As parents, we can get so tunnel-visioned on being right that we forget we are called to love. Biblical discipline has one goal – to restore the person (under penalty) to a reinstated love with the Father.  On the other hand, tyrannical discipline has one goal – to destroy the perpetrator, nothing more and nothing less – there is no grace.

Biblical discipline acts out of biblical love – the love of the Father. One of the aspects of God’s love is He keeps no record of wrongs. To actively display the love of the Father upon our children is to love without keeping a record of offenses. The horrible phrases that often pass a parent’s lips are, “You always…” or “You will never…” or “I knew this would happen…” or even “How many times do I have to tell you…” All of these statements are typically said in frustration, not in love. If love does indeed keep no record of wrongs, then these statements will change to, “I know you can change…” or “You were made for more…” or “I am confident that you are able…” and lastly, “I will tell you over and over, I believe in you…”  As you can see, the difference between these statements is one defeats while the other hopes. Love always hopes…and we should too.

Is your child making unwise decisions in their life? Are they choosing to disobey you and God? Are they suffering the consequences to their actions? Their consequences are signs of God’s discipline. We are to join God in his discipline, but never should we take it further than what God intended. For even in God’s wrath He has mercy. Underlying our partnership with God, we are to offer hope (endlessly), forgiveness (seven times seventy, meaning ongoing), perseverance (never giving up) and faith (trusting in God’s provision always). We are to be a home base for our children to return to; a place where they find a renewed relationship of love. Just as the father of the prodigal son was waiting, hoping and seeking the return of his son in his absence, we also need to have the same heart. Wait – hope – seek for the good that God will do in the correction of our children. Love never gives up. Love never fails.

Personally, we gratefully sing and fill our sanctuaries with the lyrics, “Love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me…” yet, these lyrics should be the blood that pumps our own heart for our children. Remember the love of the Father when your child does one more thing that sends you reeling. In this time, remember the purpose behind discipline – to restore your child in right relationship with you and God. Check your motive of discipline; is it loving or condemning? Will it restore or tear down? Give up your right to be right and move forth in God’s love and His plan. Seek to understand your child and God’s way, so that restoration can be complete. Do not go beyond God’s intent of discipline; if you do, you will indeed destroy your child. And then like the Gentile nations, you will suffer the consequence of God’s anger. Ouch, I know that hurt. I’m sorry, but the good news is this: when we find we have disciplined our children beyond God’s boundary, thankfully, in His immense love, He can restore us, too! Oh, what an amazing God we serve! Amen? (This of course is not an excuse to continue to fail…we must choose to change.) 

“LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).

Recommended scripture passages to read: 

Habakkuk 3:2; Zechariah 1:12-17; Luke 15:11-32; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8