Monday, October 5, 2009

The godly life is a disciplined life

Discipline, don’t you just hate that word? We struggle with it in our family, as do most comfortable Americans. It’s especially tempting in a homeschool environment to let a few things slide, so we have to work doubly hard at instilling discipline into the lives of our children.

If there’s one thing that great men and women share in common, it’s discipline. I read the book Condi a few years ago and was blown away by the hard work and dedication that young Condoleezza Rice applied equally to her studies and her hobbies. She was an outstanding figure skater and concert pianist in addition to her scholarly achievements most of us are familiar with. Condi’s parents had grown up with racism as a stumbling block to their dreams and were determined that nothing would hold their daughter back. Condi says of her parents that they “were very strategic” in providing opportunities for her and teaching her the value of hard work so that her many and great accomplishments would shield her from any racism.

Now my children are not up against racism and I don’t share the same career goals for my daughters that the Rice’s did, but the take home message remains the same. Instilling discipline in our children and teaching them to work hard will prepare them to accomplish great things in life. Of what use will they be to God if they are lazy and undisciplined?

Jonathan Edwards, arguably the most influential theologian and philosopher our country has produced, was an extremely regimented man. He made a scientific study of how much sleep he needed to be most effective for the Lord and resolved to sleep no more than was necessary! He also ate and drank only what he deemed necessary to have the energy to serve God and others to the maximum of his capacity. In his quest for the disciplined life, Edwards determined to not merely choose between right and wrong, but to choose between good, better, and best.

Jerry Bridges says it this way. “There is no place for laziness and indulgence of the body in a disciplined pursuit of holiness. We have to learn to say no to the body instead of giving in to its momentary desires. We tend to act according to our feelings. The trouble is we seldom “feel” like doing what we should do. We don’t feel like getting out of bed to have our morning time with God, or doing Bible study, or praying, or anything else we should do. That is why we have to take control of our bodies and make them our servants instead of our masters” (from The Pursuit of Holiness p.111).

So, how do we do this? My husband and I don’t live on a farm, so there are no chickens to feed or cows to milk. Our toil is light in this day and age. Can you imagine doing all your laundry by hand and hanging it out to dry? I buy most of our food at the grocery store, although my husband does grow some vegetables. We have a lot of leisure time. How can we guard against our children becoming soft and lazy?

Here’s where you come in. I have prepared a second part to this post sharing what we’re doing at our house to help discipline our children, but I want to hear from you first. Is that cheating? I want to know how you are teaching your kids the value of hard work. How do you guard against sloth in your home? Where’s the balance between “letting kids be kids” and giving them responsibilities so that they won’t always act like kids? I can’t wait to hear from you and get some good ideas for our family! And don't forget to tune in tomorrow for the next installment.
(Pictured above is my very undisciplined almost 1 yr old whom I found sitting her toy drawer.)


  1. I have all kids (mine are 1,2 and 3) ...even Ava (20 months) take something from the table to the sink. I have a basket of shoes in the laundry room...all kids (even Ava) know how to take their shoes to the basket. I have a laudry basket in kids reach to put dirty clothes in...and I make them pick up toys off the floor before they eat! I have also been using the phrase "Obey The First Time...All the Way with a happy happy heart" Even Ava can quote it back to me now. And last but not least....I will say ..."You may do (blah blah blah, or I can get my spoon!" And today for the first time, Ava told me No after asking her to come inside after play which I replied the above statment and she came inside FAST!

  2. We have morning and evening chores and "pick up times" throughout the day. Our oldest, 10yr old girl, is responsible for about 1/2 the housework that is done throughout the day. The kitchen and laundry are mostly her responsibility (Although I do help). She is also responsible to keep the girl's room clean and she watches after her 4 yr old sister a good bit.

    Our 8 year old boy is our oldest boy and he is responsible for the boys room being cleaned and the boy's laundry being put away. The younger boy, 6, helps him in this. The boys are responsible for cleaning the bathroom (mostly because they are the ones who make it dirty)and for changing out the trashbags and taking the trash to the dumpster.

    Our 4 yr old is responsible for cleaning up her own toys, however, our 10 yr old helps her. Our 10 yr old often makes lunch while I am working with the little ones on their school work. Our oldest 2,10 and 8, know how to sweep and mop and sometimes they are given that job. Their morning chores are done before school begins and their evening chores are done before bed.

    It sounds like they are often very busy, but they spend a good bit of time outside on their scooters and bikes. They have plenty of time to play in the dirt and get their hands dirty, but I am confident that when they have households of their own, they will be not go into marriage and family raising blind. I try to give them tasks that foster responsibility and trust. Our 10 yr old daughter is well ahead of where I was when I graduated from high school!

    As far as punishment and discipline go, we try to be graceful with our children, however, they know that we will tell them one time, and then the paddle will rear it's head :) I often hear myself telling our 8 yr old son (who is the most defiant in our house by far) "there will be no more grace after this. You will either obey, or you will get a spanking. Your choice." or "Begging will not change my mind, it is just going to make me angry and then you may not be playing that Wii or watching that TV for quite a long time." :) hahaha

    SO that's my 2 cents worth. :)

  3. My aunt once told me that the sin of all of our extended family was sloth. Scary but true. After dinner and dishes are done and the baby is in bed, I'm not up for doing anything but sitting and reading or watching TV. I recognize how TV plays a role in my slothfulness so I do not turn it on during the day. Perhaps being on the computer isn't much different though. I'm positive I will limit TV for my children. Okay, off to vacuum and dust!

  4. ohhhhhh NOOOOOO I just wrote this totally LONG post to you and it all just disappeared! that stinks!



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.