Conduct and Character
Have you ever been listening to a sermon and gotten knocked upside the head by the message? I hope so! Sometimes I listen to the sermon and while it's great, it doesn't penetrate deep. Other times? It's like God took a 6x6 post (it can't simply be a 2x4 for how hard I've been hit sometimes) and clobbered me so the message could sink in. But in a totally good way. Like it was exactly what has been on my heart but I couldn't put into words.
I tried putting some of my thoughts on this subject into words a couple weeks ago. God is really working in my heart on parenting. I've been defaulting to a dictator for years. "Do what I say or else." Ugh. I hate it every time but the demands, threats, and often times, raised voices, seemed to be the only things that worked with my children. I didn't like it and have asked God several times, dozens of times, to take the "monster mommy" syndrome away from me. I do well for a while and then that darn monster creeps back in. I'm pretty sure it's because I begin thinking I've got it under control and stop asking God for help. It's that darn pride thinking I can do things without Him.
But back to what God has been doing rather than what I haven't. Last month at my MOPS group we had a speaker talk about Love & Logic. I've heard presentations on Love & Logic before and while I think it can be a great tool I'd never done more than use a few of the ideas randomly. But since that night I've been working on using more of the tools. I've been offering the little guys LOTS of choices to make normal tasks go a touch smoother.
"Do you want to put this arm in first, or this arm?"
"Do you want to walk to the car or be carried?"
It's been so helpful.
But I still found myself getting frustrated over stupid stuff. Like the jacket left on the floor... again. The arguing in the car... again. The goofing around when they should be doing chores... again. And after me yelling came me apologizing.
Now it's good for my kids to know that mommy isn't perfect. It's good for them to know that mommy makes mistakes and needs to apologize. But mommy is also an adult and should be setting an example of what it means to love others as God loves us.
And this is where that sermon that hit me like a 6x6 post comes in. A friend of ours preached on Sunday about God as our Father. About how we need to use God as our example for parenting because He loves us unconditionally and disciplines us with love. He made a huge point of looking at the conduct of the child - what they do - versus the character of the child - their motivation for doing it. It is our job to build up our child's character so their conduct will follow.
If our child does something we didn't want them to do do we immediately discipline them for it or do we look at the motivation behind it and see their character? For instance, our youngest got sick this week and threw up in his bed. I was trying to get breakfast on the table so the kids could eat before school and Micah was trying to get all the dirty bedding and stuffed animals taken care of as well as clean up the room. One of our other kids kept trying to go in, see what was going on, and get in the sick child's face. Normally our reaction would be to yell for this child to get out of the room and away from the germs. The child's conduct was that of someone disobeying understanding to stay out of the upstairs while Micah was cleaning. But the child's character is that of a concerned sibling wanting to make sure the sick child was okay.
We thanked the child for the concern (built up the child's character) but asked for all the kids to head to the table for breakfast so Micah could finish cleaning up and so no one else would risk getting sick. We can't always look at a person's conduct. We need to look at the character of the person. We need to look at the motivations and opportunities to build up their character instead.
I don't want my children to obey me out of fear. I want them to obey me because they honor and respect me as their mom. I don't want to discipline with fear. I want to discipline with the same love and mercy that God uses with me. And I want to look at my child's character, not just their conduct BEFORE I choose to discipline, just as God looks at my character. I want to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant. You may enter Heaven." not "You screwed up a bunch but I guess you can come in."
I can't say for certain that the mommy monster is gone. But I am trusting in God to help me keep her at bay. One day I may be able to vanquish her for good but for now I am believing that she's at least knocked out cold because of that 6x6 post. I'm working on building up my children's character so they can choose the conduct that honors their character and honors God.
When was the last time a sermon or article knocked you upside the head? What was it about?