Years ago I read an editorial in a business journal that spoke of fiscal disciplines and children. The premise of the author was that teaching children to save money would never work unless you first taught children how to spend. On the surface this might seem crazy yet as I read the article I found myself discovering that what we normally consider as children’s spending is merely an outcome to an alternative form of begging.
Over the years I am more convinced than ever that this author, whose name has long since been forgotten, conveyed more insight than he/she realized. What happens if one teaches the benefits not the difficulties? What could be possible if you were to let the truth (benefits) drive the actions to get there? Does emptying the self of evil automatically fill it with good?
When I think of people I have known over the years, some of the most influential never spoke to me directly about God. Instead they choose to live life to the full while modeling the principles that God stands for. I never saw Grandpa Lange treat another person with malice or disrespect. I never heard words or saw actions of discrimination when I was around Henry. I struggled with Bob to convey the truth, wondering aloud after the fact if we had achieved our goals. When I think of compassion and mercy I think of Rudy. When I think of someone hardened by the streets I also think of Rudy. The list goes on and on; humans with their frailties modeling God’s characteristics.
“Discipline your children while you still have the chance; indulging them destroys them.” (Proverbs 19.19)
I believe kids as well as the people around us need examples of what God values and holds as a priority. Discipline goes beyond mere repetition of forms and rituals or adherence to a regime. Discipline involves modeling and practicing the model’s attributes; things like compassion, honesty, integrity, mercy, and hope. Anything short of this is not only a disservice; it is a recipe for personal and corporate destruction.