Yesterday was Sophie's 3rd birthday and on days like this you reflect on their short life so far. I look at how the style of parenting Becky and I have had has affected our children. Discipline is very important in a child's life, but all kids are different. Our approach with Nolan was a lot simpler than with Sophie. Nolan is the law-keeper, people-pleaser, good boy who will tell on himself if he does something wrong. Sophie is the independent, moody, break-the-rules to your face kind of girl. Don't get me wrong, Sophie has just as much of a sweet side and fun-loving personality as Nolan. It's just easy for her to turn it on and off. That being said, our discipline approach to the two has to be modified to get their attention. My struggle comes in those times by being too quickly agitated and too harsh in my tone or words instead of persistent, loving, give-them-grace discipline (Becky is so much better at this with her patience). Whether your kid is a rule-following pleaser or a rule-breaking schemer, they both need Grace as the root of their discipline, not more strict rules. As parents we should always use those times to remind our children of the "dazzling" love and grace God gives us through Jesus' finished work which paid our debts for the sins we have done and will do. This is what changes hearts. My hope and prayer is that, as a parent and husband, I can move into a more gentleness towards those I love. This can only happen if, through the Holy Spirit, I continually have reminders of the gentle, forgiving, gracious, and merciful love God has shown me. That led me to this Prayer from a book that I read. Patience and Gentleness go a long way in all relationships, especially parenting and being a husband. Enjoy!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5Dear Lord Jesus, there is no one more gentle with me than you. There is no one as welcoming of sinners… kind to the broken… or understanding of the struggling as you. Gentle, yet persistent… gentle, yet firm … gentle, yet so very powerful.
You’re like the perfect surgeon—the one I want working on me. You never get nervous, flustered, agitated, or quick. You have a steady hand because of your steady heart. O, how I need you to do ongoing gospel surgery on me if I’ve going to be a true gentle-man—someone whose gentleness is evident to all, and not just evident to the people that are so easy for me to be with.
Gentle me when I’m behind slow drivers who stay in the fast lane. Gentle me when I face both fair and unfair criticism. Gentle me when I think things that are obvious to me ought to be obvious to everybody else. Gentle me when loud boorish people invade “my space”—as though I have some inalienable right to a non-interrupted life.
Gentle me when I’m too tired to engage, but my wife really and appropriately needs me to listen. Gentle me when I need a nap but my grandson needs to play. Gentle me when someone gets the last cookie I was already planning on enjoying with a glass of milk.
Gentle me when the vacation gets cut short by crises. Gentle me when friends keep making the same mistakes and foolish choices. Gentle me when the restaurant sends me home with the wrong takeout order. Gentle me when Satan starts condemning me for things I actually did, but things for which you already paid my debt.
Gentle me when I start debating theology rather than loving the people who see things differently. Gentle me when it gets too humid to run, disrupting my plans. Gentle me when I cannot fix the very people you never gave me to fix.
Jesus, you are so near me in the gospel, in fact, you live in my heart. You’re also “near” in terms of coming back to finish making all things new. May your nearness generate a much quicker repentance on my part. Make me a gentle-man by the gospel and for your glory. So very Amen, I pray, in your kind and loving name.
-Scotty Smith, Everyday Prayers (pg.176)