I’ve finished “Don’t Make Me Count to Three!” by Ginger Plowman (see previous post below for the basic premise of the book) and have been trying to apply the principles for about three weeks. I recommend that every Christian mom buy a copy immediately, and just for the record, if you have read the book already and didn’t tell me about it, you are in big trouble! There are many ideas that were meaningful to me, and I should probably make your life easier by splitting them into more than one post. But I want to get this done while they are fresh in my head, so read as far as you can and feel free to come back tomorrow. I won’t know. 🙂 So here it goes . . .
p. 33: “Behavior is simply what alerts you to your child’s need for correction. But don’t make the mistake that so many parents make and allow your desire for changed behavior to replace your desire for a changed heart.” She goes on to quote Tedd Tripp’s words about how changed behavior that does not stem from a changed heart being the same hypocrisy displayed by the Pharisees. The tough part is that going beyond the changed behavior to a changed heart takes so much more time and energy and thought.
P. 40: “Our goal in probing our child’s heart is to bring him to the sober assessment of himself as a sinner, to help him recognize his need for Christ, and to teach him to act, think and be motivated as a Christian. It is not that difficult to train our children to act as Christians. We have really accomplished something when we have trained them to think like Christians. Thinking like a Christian will help them grow in wisdom and prepare them to govern their own behavior in a way that will glorify God.”
She makes the point multiple times that the reason we must train and instruct our children in obedience is so someday they will be ready to submit in obedience to God. It isn’t so people will marvel at my obedient, well-mannered children or to make my life easier because we all get along so nicely. I want their disobedience to point them to their need for a Savior. I want them to grow in wisdom as I speak God’s Word (Scripture) to them. As Ginger Plowman puts it, I want to prepare their hearts for the Savior by praying for them and being a godly example (p. 75).
One section of this book that was especially convicting was one of her guidelines for verbal correction: using the right tone of voice. She quotes Proverbs 15:28: “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.” Too often I fly off the handle and just start scolding Christopher without stopping to pray and choose my words and tone of voice carefully. Plowman also quotes H. Clay Trumbull’s writings in 1891 about scolding, which he defines as “an expression of a bad spirit and a loss of temper” and “to assail or revile with boisterous speech.” He writes: “If a child has done wrong, a child needs talking to; but no parent ought to talk to a child while that parent is unable to talk in a natural tone of voice, and with carefully measured words. If the parent is tempted to speak rapidly . . . the parent’s first duty is to gain entire self-control . . . Scolding never benefits the one against whom it is directed . . . however, it may give physical relief to the one who indulges in it.” (p. 89-90 in Plowman’s book). All I can say about that is OUCH.
Another great thought from the book is the way she defines the standard of obedience. In their family, they must obey “all the way, right away, and with a happy heart” (p. 117). She talks about expecting complete obedience, immediate obedience, and joyful obedience. To fail in any of these aspects is an act of disobedience. The thought of enforcing this standard is overwhelming and exhausting to me, but I am motivated by knowing that this is how my children should someday obey Jesus. It is my responsibility to not let them become lazy in obeying me so that they will not be lazy in obeying their Lord and Savior.
Finally, I continue to be convicted of my need to know Scripture better and use it more often in the training and instruction of my children. After reading I Corinthians 13 with Christopher and mentioning it often, I praised him one morning for how kind he was being to his brother. He replied, “Yes! Just like we read in Mommy’s Bible!” It was so encouraging to me that he is starting to understand that these are not arbitrary principles given on my own authority. These are principles given to us by our Creator as we submit to His authority. I went through Plowman’s book and made notecards of all the Bible verses she mentioned. The notecards are sorted into two stacks: verses of encouragement or conviction for my kids and verses of encouragement or conviction for me. Here’s the list–and if you don’t have a Bible handy, you can look them up at http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/.
For the kids:
I Corinthians 13:4-7 (love)—Galatians 5:22-23 (fruits of the Spirit)—Matthew 5:9 (promoting peace)—Ephesians 6:1 and Colossians 3:20 (obeying your parents)—Philippians 2:14 (complaining)—I Thessalonians 5:16-18 and Psalm 100:2 (having a joyful attitude)— Proverbs 17:5b (not rejoicing at your brother’s sorrow)—Matthew 18:15 (solving conflict with your brother)—Ephesians 4:32 (kindness and forgiveness)—Proverbs 6:16-19 (six things God hates).
James 1:2-4 (positive results of enduring trials)—James 1:5 (wisdom)—Proverbs 15:28 (weighing my words)—Hebrews 4:12 (the power of God’s Word)—Colossians 3:13 (forgiving my kids–see post below)— Proverbs 3:5-6 (trusting the Lord)—James 3:17-18 (God’s wisdom)—Ephesians 6:4 (do not provoke your children)—Proverbs 22:15 (the rod of discipline).
And the verse I’m clinging to as I pray for the wisdom and strength to put all of this into practice:
Galatians 6:8-9: For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
I’m not sure when that due season is–it is probably not anytime soon, and may not even be during my time on this earth–but God has promised that we WILL reap what we sow if we do not give up!