A couple of summers ago, I sat by the beach while my girls swam and made some pretty impressive sand creations.
Some young boys, on the other side of the beach, were having a good time seeing how far they could run into the water, before getting knocked over.
I heard one of the boys get a 5 minute warning from his father. Then a 1 minute warning, and eventually, his time was up. The boy continued to join his friends as they ran up the beach, then back into the water.
Eventually Mom came down to the beach and hollered for him. But he continued to run with his friends. “One more time Mom” he implored. After that one, “Just one more”. She said “OK… we are leaving with out you!” Then stood there waiting as he ran in a 3rd time. (They didn’t leave without him). Finally he started walking up the beach with his mother. She turned to walk back to the truck with him. As soon as her back was turned… he ran in a 4th time.
Somewhere between attempt 3 and 4, I asked my girls to come in. They grumbled a little bit, but complied right away.
In an obscene moment of self-righteousness, I took pride that my “amazing parenting skills” garnered an immediate response. Obviously, MY kids were far more accustomed to a well disciplined home. Right?
But what about that moment of grumbling? Could it be possible that their hearts were not any more ready to get out of the water, than that of the disobedient boy? They got out of the water right away, only because they know that I have a history of following through on my discipline.
As a parent, obedience from my children is necessary. It allows them to obey a command from God, and also keeps order in the house. It allows me to keep them safe, and teach them biblical values and virtues. But I don’t want my parenting to be about simply creating “Obedient” children. I want children who obey out of a transformed heart, not out of fear of discipline.
So here is the tough part. I can’t transform them. Only God can do that.
One book that has helped me get a grasp on my role in God’s transformation of my children’s hearts has been Spiritual Parenting: An Awakening for Today's Families. It’s a fairly quick read, but really helped me refocus my parenting efforts.
How can we lead our kids towards transformation first, then obedience second?