A few years ago, we stopped using timeouts as an effort to correct our kids’ bad behavior. We came to the realization that sitting them in a corner and setting a five-minute timer, was doing nothing more than pressing the pause button on unwanted behavior, and giving us the feeling (as parents) that we were actively disciplining—in an effort to raise good kids. After kids #3 and #4 joined our chaos, we decided it was time to take a different approach—to do something more than simply wrangle behavior. Of course, my wife and I wanted to raise good children, but we hoped for so much more.
We wanted them to learn, at young ages, how Jesus could help them behave in ways that were best for them and those around them, by changing their hearts. This meant teaching them the opposite of taking a time out—instead taking a time in with the One who could wrangle their little hearts and effectively change bad behavior. It was early in childhood, that our kids learned the crucial foundation to growth in a relationship with Christ—the exchange of humanness for his Holy righteousness.
Practically speaking, when one of our less than perfect angels act up, we teach them to go to their quiet place (their room) and talk with Jesus. We remind them that peace and joy are mainstays in our home and all family members have the responsibility to not disrupt either of these things. So, if they do something that does, it’s time for a “come to Jesus” moment and when they feel ready, they can come back to the family and apologize.
Sometimes, “come to Jesus moments” last only a few minutes and sometimes they last an hour or two. However, not once, has a time in with Jesus failed to produce a heartfelt apology from the mouths of our cherubs. With this, peace and joy are restored in our home and a greater sense of love, confidence and belonging replace the chaos that threatened it all.
As a father, it is my responsibility to model the love of Father God to my children. Showing my children unconditional love (at all times) is first and foremost. As I love them freely and completely, in every behavior and every circumstance, I am demonstrating the love that their Heavenly Father also has for them. With great love, I desire to show my children all the ways of operating that will bring them good, now and forever. In exchange for what they do not yet know, I actively impart to them wisdom and insight into the ways that will keep them safe and bring reward. This, a silhouette lesson in receiving righteousness from Christ Jesus.
There is a reason we have our kids come down and apologize after a time in. It’s not that we want them to admit how awful they are or, push them into a state of shame and condemnation—that is not it at all! We simply want them to speak the words of a changed heart and as they do that, it solidifies the transformation from bad behavior to good behavior.
This is the same transformation our Heavenly Father desires from all of us. He teaches us to repent, not to shame or condemn us—but to bring us through the process of a supernatural exchange—that brings us from mere humanity to the righteousness of Jesus. When righteousness is imparted to us, we take delivery of keys to the kingdom—keys that unlock heaven on earth. Being a good person, is not what unlocks heaven on earth, or writes Holy-Glory-Stories—only the righteousness of Jesus does these things. It is righteousness that leads to life, prosperity and honor (Proverbs 21:21 NIV). It is the fruit of righteousness that is a tree of life (Proverbs 11:30 NIV). Furthermore, it is the work of righteousness that will bring peace, now and forever (Isaiah 32:17 NIV).
How could I even think to sell my children short of these things by not teaching them the process of repentance and the amazing exchange of righteousness for their humanness? Human goodness could never compare to these things.
It is with Biblical wisdom that I have come to the resolution that good is not good enough—not when raising four precious children. The chaos of Calvary purchased so much more than good for them. It purchased a route to a reward that will shine brighter over their life than the noonday sun (Psalm 37:6 NIV). To truly impart the value of this gift to my children, I must teach it to them in ways they will understand at a young age. This also means, as a father, I must model the process and be the first to apologize.
Prayer: Father God, your Word is a lamp unto our feet—it shines a bright light onto the straight paths you have paved for us—that lead to reward both here on earth and in eternity. Teach us to father our children like you Father us. Your wisdom and clear direction protect us and keep our peace. These things alone, are worth the process of humbling ourselves before your son, Jesus. Thank you for the grace that you freely give when we mess up. And, for your mercy—you never withhold the reward, when we follow your process. Lord, teach us to father in these same amazing ways. You are more than a good Father—you are an amazing Father and we want to be your amazing children, equipped to raise amazing children. Amen.
Guest Discerning Dad
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