Ever wonder how Jesus would parent? How would He discipline tempestuous two year olds, sly seven year olds, or testy teen-agers? You’ll find many models for discipline in the way Jesus trained His disciples. Here are five strategies Jesus employed.
Jesus nurtured. Jesus nurtured His flock throughout His ministry, calling them away from the crowds into the wilderness for refreshment. He insured that none of the disciples was arrested on the night of His betrayal. His encouraging words at the Last Supper expressed confidence. Christ’s nurturing produced relationships with each disciple: strong connections that would be needed when Jesus had to admonish or rebuke.
Jesus set a standard of truth. Jesus told the disciples the truth, even when it wasn’t pleasant. He told them they would have to pick up their cross and follow Him (Matt. 16:24), and that His followers must give up their rights (Matt. 8:22). Jesus made the rules of discipleship clear. As parents, we must make rules clear to our children. We must speak truth to them, even when it’s not warm and fuzzy. Hard truth, spoken out of love, lays a firm foundation.
Jesus addressed the heart. When James and John wanted to call down fire on a Samaritan village, Christ rebuked them, saying “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” (Luke 9:56) The disciples’ sought punishment, but Jesus corrected their hearts, modeling the mercy He had for the lost. Jesus was firm but gentle, teaching the right way to think about others.
Jesus admonished promptly. In one of His sharpest rebukes, Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan: you are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (Matthew 16:23) Only moments before, Jesus had commended Peter for his spiritual insight. From this we see that a parent must respond to wrong behavior promptly, and shouldn’t play favorites.
Jesus admonished for the best reasons. I love studying the reasons Jesus admonished His disciples. Jesus rebuked them for lacking faith, for standing in the way of the needy, for criticizing a woman’s act of worship, and for boasting of their devotion. Jesus did not just point out the visible sins of the disciples but exposed their wrong heart attitudes– unbelief, insensitivity, a critical spirit, and pride.
Are you looking for ways to model your discipline after Christ’s?
For they (our earthly fathers) disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them,
but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
By James D. Dempsey, Ph.D.
Husband to Gail
Father of three
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Family Pastor at Anderson Mill Baptist Church
Presenter for The National Center For Biblical Parenting
Author of Parenting Unchained
Host of the radio show, Parenting Unchained, at www.LOTOradio.com
Click HERE for a link to Jim’s book, Parenting Unchained.