Dr. Ed Young - How to Discipline
So, we need to learn how to parent in the world in which we live. You know what parenting today is like? It's like building a fire in the rain. You ever tried to build a fire in the rain? I have. It's tough, isn't it? Man, a lot of things you gotta have-some shelter. You try to cover it up. You got to have the right kind of wood, and you might get a fire going. It rains harder. It puts it out. You have to take the coals and work them. Building a fire in the rain is difficult. Some would say it's impossible. Oh no! It just takes diligence. You have to know what you're doing. You have to stay with it, and that's what it takes to takes these little miracles we call sons and daughters, and grow them up the way God would have them, us to grow 'em up as mothers and dads and those who support and teach and lead them.
It's like building a fire in the rain in our culture, isn't it? So how do you do it? It's a challenge for all of us, and we can't anticipate all the signs of rebellion. We can't anticipate all the situations we find ourselves with kids and with families. You know, how in the world can we prepare them? How can we build the right stuff in them that God would have us to build in them as parents? You know, handling this situation, and we can't plan for all the extremities. But there are some basic things, parents, couples can do to sort of put some things down; to put down a grid, some parameters. And I'll represent to you two negatives and two positives. Two negatives-don't do this. Two positives-do this, and it'll help us in the overwhelming challenge in our modern world, and that is to, with our sons and with our daughters, to build a fire in their life; a purpose in their life; Christ in their life in the middle of a rainstorm.
I want you to look first of all, the first negative. Ephesians Chapter Number 6. Paul is writing. He says, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger". Do not provoke your children to anger. How does that operate? Do not provoke your children to wrath. It means our children are never to be angry with us? No. Means our children are always to be happy? No. But we don't provoke them in such a way that they are overwhelmed with bitterness, and it stays in their lives, and it, it stored up there, and there's a seething kind of anger that comes with our sons and daughters, and this happens when we over-discipline them. It happens when we under-discipline them.
I remember when my son, Ed-he was a sophomore or junior in high school. He had a big test on the Constitution and the bylaws. I asked him through the week, "Are you studying? Are you sort of getting it"? "Oh yeah, dad.... I'm on top of it! I'll be ready for the test..." The night before the test, I went up to his room and I got the book and the study questions, and I asked him, and he didn't know the Constitution from Mary Had A Little Lamb! It was unbelievable! I reminded him we'd visited Washington. We'd seen it behind the case. Man, he did know anything, and all week long, he was ready for the big test. And I just lost it.
And I remember, I grabbed him by the hair, way too hard. I said, "Son, we're gonna stay here til' you know the Constitution, the bylaws, the amendment and everybody who wrote them, backwards and forwards, and", we went to bed about quarter til' 4:00. Next morning, I went up there because I didn't sleep very much that short night, and I apologized. I cried, and he cried. I over-disciplined him. We've even dealt with that again as we are adults. You see, you can provoke your children. I, I-you know, he was too old for this kind of corporation punishment, and see, I was not in control; but I was asking him to be in control. Parents, when you're not in control, you can't discipline your children. If you do it, you do it improperly, and you discipline them to a point of anger and a point of wrath.
That's what the warning here Paul gives us. Don't over-discipline your kids. It's got to be the right time, the right place, identified with the right person, in the right situation. All of our kids are different. With Ed, it took corporate punishment to get him in line so many, many times. With Ben, you could talk and reason with him. With Cliff, he had such a tender heart, you just look at him-he got it. You see, you have to adapt to all of these things, age appropriate. And so we can over-discipline, and we can under-discipline. The best illustration of under-discipline I know of is in the Bible. You have King David. Man, he's on the throne. He's ruling everything. He's in charge. He's king! Doing a fabulous job. Geo-political relations are up. The economy is up. Man, the people respect him. He's honored. He's a poet. He's a man after God's own heart.
But what happened in his family? His son, Amnon was sick. Amnon asked his half-sister, Tamar, to come and feed him while he was in the bed sick. When everyone left, he took his sister and he raped her. It said in the Bible David knew about it. He was angry, but he did nothing about it. He knew, but he did nothing. The deadliest thing in a family is a passive father, ladies and gentlemen. The deadliest thing is a passive father. And what happened in that situation? Two years later, Absalom came and killed his own brother to avenge what he had done to his sister. And then Absalom was put in exile. Then David brought Absalom back home, and Absalom fell before him, but David wouldn't even see him for two years. And Absalom later led a rebellion against David and his own father, because David knew and did nothing. That's under-disciplining, and that leads to wrath.
You see the wrath, the bitterness that was in Absalom because of passive dad? So we can over-discipline and under-discipline and we can miss this clear word of instruction from God's Word. Don't provoke your children to anger, to wrath. And then look at the next negative we see. These are the words of Jesus. Turn with me to Luke Chapter Number 17. The same story is told in Matthew. Luke Chapter 17: Jesus speaking: He said to the disciples, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come. It would be better for him if a millstone was hung around his neck and he was thrown into the sea, than one would cause one of these little ones to stumble". In other words, don't trip up your kids. Don't provoke them. Don't trip them up. Don't cause them to stumble.
You say, "Well, how do we do that"? I read only this week about the situation that Disney has. It seems that a group of New York sophisticates were taking their kids to Disney down in Orlando, and they found a way to beat the long lines. They would hire somebody who was handicapped to lead their children in; they'd go to the head of the line, and one New York Society woman boasted, said, "Everybody else stood two and a half to get-two and a half hours to get in 'It's A Small World' but my kids, led by that handicapped person, they were in in a minute and a half! They just blitzed Disney! And they were bragging about it".
Another man was talking about he did the same thing. He got a doctor to write out a prescription and said his son was HDDD-HDDD I think all of us are that anyway... and therefore, they put him at the head of the line. See, they broke the system. You say, "Well, what about that"? You see what you're doing? You're tripping up your son and daughter. You are showing them how to take short-cuts by money, by prestige, by beating the system, and therefore, they get to college, and they're "Oh, I can't believe you cheated on that test and you're thrown out of school"! Dad, mom, you don't have a leg to stand on, any more than David had a leg to stand on in dealing with his son, who's raped his daughter because David had already been guilty of sleeping with someone who wasn't his wife.
See what I'm saying? We cause our children to stumble, and sometimes they stumble so ingloriously, it breaks your heart. Here's a letter written a few years back by a teenager: Dear Folks: Thank you for everything, but I'm going to Chicago and try to start some kind of new life. You ask me why I did those things and why I gave you so much trouble. The answer is easy for me to give to you, but I'm wondering if you will understand? Remember when I was 6 or 7 and I used to want you to just listen to me? I remember all the nice things you gave me for Christmas, my birthday. I was really happy with those things, about a few days, at the time I got the things; but the rest of the time during the year, I really didn't want presents. I just wanted all the time for you to listen to me, like I was somebody who felt things too, because I remember even when I was young, I felt things... but you said you were too busy...
Mom, you're a wonderful cook. You have everything so clean, that you tried so much from doing all those things that make you busy; but you know something, mom? I would have liked crackers and peanut butter just as well if you'd only sat down with me awhile during the day and said to me, 'Tell me all about it so maybe I can help you understand...' I think all the kids who are doing so many things that grownups are tearing their hair out worrying about are really looking for somebody who'll have time to listen a few minutes, and who really will treat them as they would a grown-up who might be useful to them, and you know? Polite to them... If you folks ever said to me, "Pardon me..." when you interrupted me, I would have dropped dead. If anybody asks you where I am, tell them I've gone looking for somebody with time because I've got a lot of things I want to talk about. Love to All, (He signed it) Your Son.
See, our kids-we trip them up. I remember going to a school play some years back, and a little guy in the play had a part, you know, about a minute and a half. He did his thing, and after the play was over, that little guy came storming behind the stage. I happen to see him, and he just ran out there to his daddy, you know... To him, he'd just played Hamlet on Broadway! You know, he was just thrilled to death! And he ran out there, and he grabbed his daddy-wanted him to say, you know, what a good job he'd done, and I'm proud of you, son... His dad said, "I can't talk to you now. I'm talking to Mr. Smithson".
So he pushed him to one side, and you could see that little guy. He just goes off. He's broken hearted. Parents, awake up! Be sensitive to your kids! Don't cause them to trip. Don't cause them to trip, to stumble. It's better that, Jesus said, a millstone be hung around the neck of somebody who trips up a kid. In our society when we tolerate pedophilia, I don't understand it! Look what Jesus says, about how deadly it is. Our kids-we build them up! Jesus said, "Let them come to Me". "Oh no"! the disciples said. "Oh no! You're talking to a lot of big important people"! He said, "I don't care about them. Suffer the little children to come to Me". He said, "Unless you have the humility of a child like that you'll never get to Heaven yourself".
How important! Jesus elevated children-elevated children. The Bible gives us instruction: Don't provoke your kids to wrath. Don't trip up your kids by your lifestyle. But what's the positive part of training? Look at it. We go immediately to the Book of Proverbs, a very familiar Verse. Proverbs, Chapter 22, Verse 6: "Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it". What does that mean? It means train up a child in the way you think he should go? She should go? No, no. It means train up a child in the way God has bent them. Back in Biblical days when a child did not begin to suck when they were born, the midwife would take some fig juice and rub it on their gums, and they would teach them out to suck, and they naturally became sucking machines so they could live-so they could live.
That's the way we train children. We look at our children. We study them. We ask God for discernment. We see how God has bent them, how God has placed them, and then, not how we want-we see where there giftedness is. We see where their passion is... You know, Jo Beth and I were just strolling through life. All of a sudden, my youngest son, Cliff was born and we were trying to figure out how he was bent, and we couldn't figure it out until we gave him a guitar-a little guitar one Christmas, and man, all of a sudden, we have a musician on our hands! Where did that come from? You see, you, you have to do this with your kids. Don't have all those presuppositions, all those ideas of what they ought to be.
See, when our kids are young and a kid will say, you know, "I want to be a doctor"! And all the rest of his years, "You know, Billy, when you were little, you said you wanted to be a doctor. You know, you know, you said you wanted to be a doctor, Billy..." Now if Billy said, "I want to be a garbage man..." We'd never bring that up again, would we? Let me tell you something, ladies and gentlemen: Billy as a doctor is in worse shape than Billy as a garbage man, if he's outside the will of God. It's not prestige, money, power... We can't live variously through our children. We figure out how God has molded them. I know a man who has been tremendously successful in the business world, but he's been miserable all the years of professional life. He has the gift of being a teacher, and he said, "Oh, how I wanted to teach! But my family just wouldn't let me do it".
You see, you miss the passion of your life. You want to find out what turns your kids on, and you study them, and you encourage them. See how God has bent them. Then you train them. Well, how do you train them? You know how the Jews tra, trained in the Bible. You go to Deuteronomy Chapter 6, you see it clearly. It's the Shema. And they come, the, the, and Moses just give them the Ten Commandments, and he says, "This is how you are to teach your kids right and wrong". Look at Deuteronomy Chapter 6 Verse 7 following. This is how you do it. "You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You will write them on the doorposts of your house, on your gates".
What is this saying? It's saying that in the home, we surround our kids with principles of life. We teach them. God is Number One. Don't take His Name in vain. Worship Him on the Sabbath, on Sunday. Be a worshipper. Honor your father and your mother. Don't murder. Don't commit adultery. Don't steal. Don't lie. Don't covet. And we teach that. We inculcate. We, we teach that to our kids all the time. It's just a part of the atmosphere of our family and of our home. This is how we do it. We are training them up in the way that God has bent them, putting moral fiber in the middle of them. That's the second, that's the third thing we do, and that's the first positive thing we do. Look at the next positive thing we do with our kids.
We go back to Ephesians. It finishes that passage up. It says, "But bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord". You teach them in the way God has bent them, giving moral fiber to them, and then you bring them up-you bring them, you go along with them. Ladies and gentlemen, you can require your kids to do what you want them to do until they become teenagers. Then they'll begin to do what you do, and there's our problem. There's our problem. We bring them up in the discipline of the Lord. What is discipline? You say, "Oh, that's punishment". Oh no, it isn't. Discipline is drawing boundaries. Here is the boundary.
This is how our family functions. Here are the rules. Here is the regulation. This is who we are. These are the boundaries. That's discipline. Then when they move outside of those boundaries, then you have a response that is appropriate to age and that particular situation, and that particular child. And see, that's where parents are always praying for wisdom and discern, and discernment and the leadership of the Spirit. So in the instruction, in the discipline, and the instruction of the Lord; in the teaching of the Lord. How do you teach?
I remember my mother teaching me how to walk across the street when I was a little guy. You know, in front of our, our house, there was a street... I thought it was a busy street; a car went by about every 30 minutes. But anyway... and she said, and she would take-I'd go to go across the street to play with people. She'd take me by the hand. She'd say, "Edwin, stop, look, and listen..." We'd walk across. We'd come back, stop, look, and listen. We did this a few times. Then she said, "All right-I want you to lead, lead me by the hand". So I took her hand and I stopped and looked, and I led her. Sometimes she'd say, "Wait a minute! That car is coming..." And we did that. Then a few times, she'd say, "I'll stand on the curb. Let's see how you do". And she'd watch me. "That's good. That's terrific. You've got it"!
Then down the road, she'd stand at the door of the house. She'd say, "Okay, I'm watching you". And I'd stop, look, and listen... That's the way she taught. That is the way we teach our children and all kinds of things. We're with them. We stay with them. We hang in there with them. We're teaching the way the Lord has taught, in the admonition of His truth. Now here is the challenge: You build all the right stuff with time, and talent, and prayer, and going to church with them, praying with them, an all of a sudden, they leave home and they go bazooka! Wild! What in the world? And we fall back on this Verse, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he'll not depart from it". "Boy, I sure hope they come back! I sure hope they do! You know, we tried to train 'em up"!
I've heard that a quinzillion times! Let me show you what's missing in our training up our children right here at this point. Let me show you what we miss many times. We get all the rights, and the wrongs, and the do's, and the don't's, and the discipline, and the parameters, and we encourage, and we build all those things in; but we leave out something. I want you to see what Joseph had in the Bible, what his other brothers didn't have. Joseph-the other sons of big Jake were just unscrupulous characters. They were slime. They were the kind of kids you didn't want your kids to play with. But big Jake, I'm sure, took the Shema and Commandments and tried to build that in his kids.
That's what they did... that's what they did. Moses' principles. But it took with Joseph, and you look at Joseph... They, they were jealous of him. He was a little egotistical-mark that down; the favorite of his father. His mother was Rachel-different from Leah, the other boys... and the brothers sold him. They wanted to kill him, but they sold him as a slave and went to Potiphar's house. Potiphar put him in charge of everything. Potiphar's wife tried to seduce him. He said "No". She accused him. He was put in prison. He became head of the prison.
Then he made some promises, and he predicted some things, some dreams they had, and they said they would speak for him before Pharaoh, but they didn't, until finally the day Pharaoh recognized Joseph as someone who could be Prime Minister because of his understanding of God and economic affairs, and here is Joseph, a stranger, a Jew, now a Prime Minister of the most powerful nation in the world. You say, "He's not qualified"! Man, was he qualified! As a young man, he thought he was going to die. As a young man, he was sold into slavery. As a young man, he rose in prominence in Potiphar's house. As a young man, he rose in prominence as he was in prison.
See, God put him through all those schools of discipline that uniquely prepared him for that moment of service and exaltation in his life. What did, how did Joseph have this kind of character and fiber and his other brothers didn't? You see the character demonstrated there when Mrs. Potiphar tried to seduce him. She was "Miss Egypt", knockout, beautiful. And it was the culture of the day. Here is Joseph, strong, handsome, Jewish. Man, he was something! And the Bible says she tempted him day, after day, after day. Not a one-time deal... and finally, he said, "No". And she grabbed him by the shirt and ripped the shirt off his back as he ran from her; but he told her as to why he could not sleep with her. Three things. What did he say? He said, "I can't do this thing because your husband has put me in charge of everything he has but you".
You know, he had a vocational accountability he was taught. And then he says, "I can't do this thing because you're his wife. You're the exclusive property of him and he's the exclusive property of you. I can't do it". And then he said, "The third reason I can't do it is because God sees me". Where did he learn this kind of application? His older brothers evidently didn't have it. Had the same dad, but a different mom, and I'm gonna guess it was Rachel, that that mom said, "Look-here's what you don't do, and here's what you do... But this is", here it is, parents, "why we do not worship other Gods. This is why we do not covet other people's property. This is why we do not murder. It's why we do not commit adultery. It's why we do not steal. It's why..."
You see, we have to not only teach and put boundaries up and explain; we use illustrations in life and say, "Look what happened over there. Look what they did wrong. Look at the example. Look what's going right in that life. Why? Look why? How, what happened to that kid on drugs? And look what happened to that life. Look what happened to that kid who made the right choice and what happened in that life".
You see, we not only teach and lay down all the principles, line upon line, precept upon precept; we explain to our kids why. And when you do that, they'll get out in this world and they'll make valued judgments and moral choices that will be fabulous! See the genius of it? Two negatives: Don't provoke. Don't trip up. What do you do? You train up-words and precepts. Then you bring them up. That means you bring them along with yourself, and I wonder how many sons and daughters are saying, "You know, my mom and dad went to church all the time when we were coming up, and now they have just moved on..." What does that say to your kids now? 'Cause parenting is a life-time calling and responsibility.