As a child, the fear of being caught breaking a rule was more inherent to me as morality. When I was faced with an opportunity to make a bad decision, the thought running through my mind was “what if dad found out”.
Back then my father was the principal of Grace Christian Academy, were I went to school before moving to Jackson. That being said, there was not much of an escape route when I got into trouble. There were no limits on the punishment when I showed up in the principal’s office. It was terrifying at times. My dad was funny and playful but very stern when it came to obedience. He certainly did not hesitate to take off the belt when necessary. I can still hear the jingling of his belt buckle coming down the hallway when I had been sent to my room.
Growing up I had a deep respect for authority, especially my parents. Little did I know that along the way I was learning a big principle for my life. I hit my teens and things got rough at home, and in my later teens I rebelled significantly. God intervened soon thereafter and I surrendered my life to Jesus.
It did not take me long to realize that just because I had reached the age where the consequence from my parent’s discipline did not affect me, consequences for my actions still came none-the-less. Most of the time, these consequences were far worse than any discipline my parents ever instructed. I was diligent to discipline myself to do what needed to be done, and this principle that was instilled in me from the beginning has brought a major positive effect in my life.
In the second chapter of Genesis, we see the first applications of discipline. Adam was an incredibly disciplined man. God commanded Adam to tend the Garden of Eden and keep it. (Gen 2:15) Can you imagine having the responsibility of managing and tending to God’s garden?
Adam also had the responsibility of naming all of the living creatures that God made (Gen 2:19). That is a lot of name-calling, considering half of these animals probably didn’t even make it onto the ark!
But Adam had an area of discipline in his life that he fell short on — that was to leave the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil alone and not eat it. Yet, in utter misfortune, he chomped into the fruit.
I have heard people say, “All Adam had to do was leave that stupid tree alone!” I am sure I am guilty of saying that myself. Yet in all honesty, that is not at all “the only thing” Adam had to do. Adam had quite a bit of responsibilities on his hands.
God demands discipline in our lives. In fact, Hebrews 12:6 tells us that The Lord disciplines the ones He loves and chastens everyone He accepts as a son. Obviously, God takes discipline very seriously. We ought to as well.
There is always controversy as to how a parent should discipline his/her children. Harsh or physical discipline seems to be frowned upon more today than yesterday. However, those in leadership or in authority of others for discipline should pay attention to determine whether our discipline is working or not. My focus point here is our youth but this can be applied in other areas as well.
We should not have to convince, bribe or plead for our children to do the right thing. The thought of discipline should be enough to strike fear into them so that they at least have to really consider the consequences before making a bad decision.
Though sometimes youth do not understand why they must serve under certain disciplinary actions, this will teach them the basic platform of outcomes due to the decisions we make. This is a principle that is understood over a period of a life time.
Imagine if a child was hardly ever disciplined for the bad decisions he has made along the way. What if this child was never forced to pick up after himself? What if he talked to adults however he wanted to? What if he never learned to wash his dishes after he ate off of them? What if he never served punishment for something he did but was told not to do? How much instability is being bred in his life? What would this teach the child?
This person would grow up not understanding the consequences for the bad decisions he makes or to take care of himself, much less others. This person would have no regard for responsibility. He would feel very insecure. He would fall short in everything he does.
Unfortunately, we see a lot of this happening today. Youth are making bad choices and are receiving hardly any punishment. They feel as if no one has right to punish them and they are running the homes. They learn that it is someone else’s duty to take care of them. As a result, we are hindering them from understanding consequences and enabling them to ever becoming a self-disciplined person.
The goal for our leadership and parenting should be to teach our children to be self-disciplined individuals.
After Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights, hangin’ out and diligently praying to His Father, he was hit with temptation from Satan. He stood strong. After the long and difficult ministry Jesus went through, He cried to God the Father and pleaded with him in the garden, that if there was any other way than for Him to die on the cross, then let Him do it. But the Father said no…and Jesus listened and obeyed. Without incredible discipline, Jesus would not have done what he has done for us.
Indeed, God has given each and every one of us a garden to tend to, to cultivate, to grow and nurture. That garden is the responsibilities placed in our lives. These are your children, your wife, your husband, your employees, your ministries. God’s garden is for us to discipline, care for, love, and direct for proper growth.
Let us be strong, attentive, loving, firm, and obedient to God’s word. Let us be a disciplined society, enacting it wherever we are in our lives.
Stay encouraged, and God bless.
Isaac Redman is a 22-year-old youth pastor at Pleasant Grove Church. He is a servant of Christ and loves music and the outdoors.