Technique is Key
September 22, 2013
Discipline is traditionally one of the biggest battles families face in the octagon. It’s often the final round, the deciding factor in the battle. It’s also something God wants everyone to fully understand and embrace.
In this message, Pastor Ed Young looks at eight practical and tangible discipline techniques that can change the dynamic of our families today. And we discover that by employing these techniques, our family can emerge victorious from the family octagon!
Illus: Well, I was a little kid, maybe 2nd or 3rd grade. We grew up in the Carolinas and our neighbor had this beautiful birdbath. I would watch that birdbath regularly and see birds drink out of the birdbath and you know, it was kinda like, whatever. One day I just thought, what would it be like to turn that birdbath over? I mean, why would I think that? Why would I have that desire? I really wanna turn my neighbor’s birdbath over. So I began to look around and I didn’t think my neighbor was home. And I had a friend with me, Robert, and Robert had a hip problem. So he was on crutches and he would hobble around with me. So I walked up to it and I said,
“Robert, I’m gonna turn this birdbath over.” He goes,
“Man, you’re crazy.” I said,
“I’m gonna do it.” So I tried to push it and this thing was heavy. I said,
“Robert! Help me!” So Robert… and both of us, we turned this birdbath, this birdfeeder giant thing, over. It exploded into squillions of pieces. Well, when I saw that I turned and ran home and Robert,
“Ed, wait! Wait, Ed, wait!” When I got home my mother was like,
“Ed, did you turn over Mrs. Johnson’s birdfeeder and break it?”
“No, no. I didn’t do it.”
Well, my parents did something very, very wise. If you want to talk about discipline, this is brilliant. They made me take my piggybank, all the money I’d saved from grandparents giving you stuff on birthdays and uncles and aunts and whatever. They made me go to the birdbath store. I put the piggybank on the counter. I bought our neighbor another birdbath. Now my parents had to pay the difference. Then I had to call and apologize.
“This is Ed. I broke your birdbath.” And the lady was like,
“Well, yeah. I saw you.” I’ve never forgotten that and that’s the last birdbath I’ve ever turned over. So, discipline is what happened. Discipline.
My parents, now I look back I realize, my parents loved me enough to discipline me. Love is amazing. And we oftentimes like to separate love from discipline, especially in this whole mentality of our chaotic culture. We say discipline’s one thing, love is another thing. Well I would argue that true love always has discipline, and true discipline always has true love.
The Bible says, check this out, that our God, the perfect heavenly parent, loves you and me so much that he disciplines us. The Bible says God disciplines those he loves. You never see that on a coffee mug, you never see that on a t-shirt. You never see that from a little thing hanging from your rear-view mirror, that God disciplines those he loves. He does, though.
The Scriptures tell us in the book of Hebrews. In fact the book of Hebrews, specifically chapter 12, is an exhortation. The word exhortation means it’s an encouragement. Literally the writer of Hebrews is encouraging us about discipline. No one goes, “Oh, I love discipline! Give me some more discipline! Yeah! Discipline!” No, no. It’s not fun when it’s happening. However, discipline is something that God does FOR us, not TO us. And as parents, hey parents! As pre-parents, grandparents, single parents, any kind of parent. Maybe you are a parent in a company because so often we lead like we parent, we understand and need to incorporate the D word, discipline. We learn it from God.
So he’s going to encourage us about discipline. Kids, listen up! Parents, listen up! Hebrews 12: 6-8, he’s encouraging us about the D word. It says, “The Lord disciplines the one he loves and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Look at the word chastens. That word is literally child training, instruction, discipline. That’s what it means.
Back in the day a Greek little boy would be expected to go to the gym and work out. I mean they were doing CrossFit back in the day. Going to the box, you know, all that. They were doing CrossFit. A Greek boy would work out, exercise, he would train until maturity. It took discipline in the gym to bring about maturity.
When God disciplines you and me, I’m talking about his sons and daughters, he disciplines for our maturity. You see, we have a choice in our eternal family. We either choose God’s family, God’s our heavenly father, or we choose the enemy’s family. The devil is called the father of lies. We have a choice. I didn’t have a choice as far as who my parents were when I was born, I was just born March 16, 1961. I came into the world. I didn’t choose it, I’m there. The Bible says God has chosen me. He loves me. He loves you so much that he sent Jesus Christ, an ultimate warrior, an ultimate fighter, who fought the ultimate fight. He died on the cross for our sins, rose again. He says now because of his death, burial, and resurrection that we’re more than conquerors, we’re winners. So love is the fuel for the fight to win again and again and again. We have a choice. We either choose to be adopted into the family of God, to be born again into God’s family, or not. We say either, “God, you run the show.” Or “I’m gonna run the show.” I’ve tried to run the show myself and when I do it’s chaotic. Yet, when I acquiesce to God, when I’ve humbled myself to God and I say, “God, you’re in charge, I’m not.” That’s when things happen. But God loves me enough, he loves you enough, to discipline us. And every time we’re disciplined, every time we jump fences and go off-roading, we suffer the consequences of our behavior. It’s just in black and white right here. The Lord disciplines the one he loves and he chastens everyone he accepts. He trains us as his son.
Verse 7, “Endure hardship as discipline.” I mean, many times I’ve wanted to tap out, haven’t you? I’ve been in maybe a situation where I know God is disciplining me and I’m like, man this is tough stuff! God says, “Hang in there.” Endure. Endure hardship as discipline. God is treating you as his children. I’m in training, right? I’m in the gym. If you’re not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline) then you’re not legitimate. You’re not true sons and daughters at all.
So why? That’s a good question. Why discipline? Why do we get involved in discipline? Why should we welcome the discipline of God. It’s painful, not always pleasurable, but why? Well, God is God and when I submit myself to him I’m honoring him. And then I do what God says. So it’s about respect. “God, you’re God and I’m not.” And it’s also about obedience. I’ve got to trust God. He has my best interest in mind.
You heard from one of the best fighters in the world. He said, “I walk into the gym, I’ve got to humble myself before these experts. They have my best interest in mind.” Discipline. Endurance. Training. Diet. God has your best interest, and he has my best interest, in mind.
Some of you are like, all right. I’m gonna do what I wanna do. I’ll give God part of my life but let’s say in the area of sex I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do. You see, when God’s at the top of the order, there’s order. There’s harmony. When God’s not at the top of the order there’s dissonance. There is chaos. Many people say, “God I will trust you here. I will trust you there, but as far as what I do with the other person sexually I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do.” A lot of people sleep in the wrong bed. A lot of people have premarital sex, for example, and they’re like, “Man! I wonder why my life is so messed up. Man, I wonder why I’m experiencing all this chaos. Man, I wonder why all this drama and trauma is taking place.” You are being disciplined by God. Because when we jump fences there are gonna be consequences. Will God forgive us? Oh yeah, he’s gonna forgive, but he’s not gonna take away the consequences.
Think about the consequences of premarital sex. I mean, obviously premarital sex is fun. Sin is fun. Sin has its kicks but its kickbacks are like being kicked by the Bigg Rigg himself. You don’t wanna do that. So, let’s say I’ve committed sexual sin. “Lord, forgive me!” Will God forgive you? No doubt about it. But he’s gonna allow you to face the consequences. You’ll have that image in your mind for the rest of your life. Guilt, shame. You can always contract an STD. In fact, everybody who does that has an STD, a Stupid Thinking Disorder. A sexually-transmitted disease. And you’re using a God-given gift in a God-forbidden way. God says sex is reserved for the marriage bed. That’s one example. There are many, many others.
Financially. I’m gonna use my money my way. Or recreational. Or vocational. “I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do, God, and now after I do what I’m gonna do, you bless it.” God doesn’t work that way. God is either at the top of the order or he’s not.
Here’s one of the cool things about our great God. When God sees your life, when he sees chaos, he goes, “When I see chaos, chaos is order waiting to happen.” He’s just waiting for us to acquiesce to him. Because one we give him the reins of our lives, that is when we have order. So it’s about honor and being obedient. And children, obey your parents! Respect your parents. Submit to their authority. And you will live a long life and a prosperous life. Our earthly families need to reflect God’s family. God disciplines us because he loves us. And parents, we discipline our kids because we love them. And it’s not easy.
How many times have I said, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” And I know my kids are like, “Right, Dad. I mean, you’re full of crap.” You know? But you know what? Once they grow up and become parents they’ll go, whoa! That’s right! That’s right. And God is the same way.
So let’s keep running through this. Hebrews 12:10-11, “They disciplined us for a little while because they thought best (talking about our earthly parents) but God disciplines us for our good in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. Later on, however (check this out – this is good), it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
This word discipline, one of the pictures behind it is that of a craftsman and an apprentice. The craftsman throws his or her life into the life of the apprentice. And the craftsman gives them and shows them the discipline it takes to become a craftsman. This process takes discipline. And one day the craftsman looks and the apprentice is on the same level as the craftsman. But it’s the craftsman’s desire for the apprentice one day to do the same to the next generation, and the next generation. That’s the beautiful thing about discipline.
Parents, you’re the craftsman. Hey kids, you’re the apprentice. Listen, watch, do, and I’m telling you God will take you places you never, ever dreamed or thought possible.
T.S. Let’s segue from God’s family, right, into your family and mine. I want to talk to you about some disciplinary techniques, some principles from God’s word that we can apply today in the Family Octagon. Because in the Family Octagon we are in a fight. The family is the ultimate fight because we’re fighting for the ultimate. We’re fighting for the family.
God is a fighter. Jesus was not some pale, frail, blue-eyed, skinny, decaf-sipping white boy. He was a man’s man. A fighter. A warrior. We must have that warrior spirit in the octagon. But I’m gonna tell you, one of the most difficult things we do in the octagon is discipline. Single parents, it’s so, so difficult, I know, but it’s dynamic. Parents with 2.3 kids, it’s difficult but dynamic. Grandparents, future parents, and even if you’re like, “This doesn’t relate to me. I’m not a parent. I will never be a parent.” Hey, you lead like you parent. You might be a manager, you might be a coach, a teacher, these principles apply to you and you can live off these principles because they’re from the Bible.
Here’s the first one. Start soon or you’ll raise a loon.
Illus: Lisa and I vacation a lot and we have over the years in the Gulf coast of Florida. We’ve taken our family down there and there’s a restaurant down there called Loons on a Limb. It’s a breakfast place. And a loon is kinda a weird-looking bird. They have this weird bird out front, you know, Loons on a Limb.
Well, when it comes to parenting we better start soon. Surprisingly soon. We don’t wait until they’re two years old, five years old, whatever, or 15 to start disciplining them. No, discipline is about order. Order is about discipline. Even when your kid is tiny you’re showing them order. You don’t demand-feed them. You kind of move toward that phase into OK, we’re gonna teach them that they’re a part of our schedule. You don’t always rock them and put them to sleep and sing stories and songs and every time. Sometimes you put them in their crib and let them go to sleep themselves. It’s part of starting soon. So you start soon and understand how important order is. God is a God of order. Start today with discipline and it will pay dividends that are absolutely incredible. So start soon or you’ll raise a loon.
If you’re managing a company and you’re not married and you don’t have any kids, start today with discipline. Because discipline is doing what you ought to do so then you can do what you want to do.
Number 2 – Discipline for motivation, not humiliation. You’ve gotta understand your kids. Kids are wired differently. We’re unique, we’re one of a kind. Everybody is amazing but everybody is different so we discipline our kids differently. God knows our strengths, God knows our weaknesses, so discipline to motivate them.
Illus: I remember my father, in one of the books he wrote about the family, he wrote it in the 80’s. It’s called Romancing the Home. That’s an 80’s title, isn’t it? Romancing the Stone, Romancing the Home. Anyway, in one of his chapters on discipline he says this. He goes, “You know I have three boys. One of my sons I had to just look at to discipline and he got it. The other one I could just talk to him and he understand it. He said the third one I had to take my belt off, my Black Beauty, and deal with him.” Guess which one I was? Black Beauty Boy! Belt Boy! That’s me.
So we have to know, parents, how our kids respond and what they deal with. That’s why I tell parents, hey parents, buy your kids the most expensive technology as early as possible. And you’re like, “Man, I don’t agree with that Ed.” Oh yeah, because you use that to discipline them. You’ll end up using it yourself, parents, because your kids will never have it. You take it away when they disobey. It’s brilliant.
But in all seriousness we need to discipline in private, not in public. It’s not about humiliation. God doesn’t humiliate us, he disciplines us. It’s something he does not to us, but he does it for us. We do the same thing.
A good line to say to your kids is: I love you too much and God loves you too much to allow you to get away with this behavior. So we have to understand that discipline is for their best.
Many parents (and this is a temptation that I’ve had), many parents are like, man I don’t want to deal with the drama and the trauma of the moment. Especially if you’ve got girls. And even guys, but especially girls. We’ve got three girls, one boy. I don’t want to deal with it. I’ve dealt with stuff all day at the office and now I come home and, “Yayayayaya-yayayaya-yayayayaya!” and back in the day Lisa would try to bring me into these catfights. Man, women argue on a whole ‘notha level. I mean, they can argue circles around me. But I learned at a very young stage in my marriage, if mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy. So we present – oh that’s a good place to clap, guys, right there. The guys should clap. Yeah. So I learned very early, it’s important to give a unified front to your kids.
We’ll take that back to God. God, the Father. God, the Son. God, the Holy Spirit. Three in one, one in three. The trinity, they give us a unified front. I mean, the Holy Spirit isn’t saying one thing and Jesus saying another and God the Father saying something else. they’re all together. Marriage, two shall become one. There’s gotta be oneness. And at crazy young ages kids know how to play one parent against the other.
One of the pastors here at Fellowship Church, he and his wife just had a little baby. And he said, “Ed, you might think I’m crazy but I think our daughter is already working one against the other.”
And I’m like, “Yeah, that’s true.”
Because think about it. A kid is born into the octagon and we love babies. We give our lives for our children. They’re born and for the first little while everything revolves around them. They like the spotlight, they know, hey, I’m the man! I’m the girl! But a change has got to take place. Because sadly in many families what starts out as a stage becomes the rage. It’s OK when they’re born – and I understand that everything has got to be diaper-driven and bottle-driven and all that. But you’ve got to teach that child it’s about God, the marriage, and then the kid. God, marriage, kid. But our chaotic culture will say, “Oh no, family first! Family first! Family first! First, first, first. First thing the family. Family first…” No. No. If family is first then God is second or third. God ain’t no runner-up God.
“Well, it’s about the kids. And the kids and the kids and the kids, the kids, it’s about the kids and the kids, kids, kids, kids…” It’s not about the kids. Kids – K-I-D-S – Keeping Intimacy At a Distance Successfully. First – it’s OK to laugh. This is church. It’s an encouragement! Hebrews chapter 12, exhortation. God, top of the order, then everything will be in order. And some of you are like, man, why is my life so screwed up? Look at your priorities.
Matthew 6:33 Jesus said, “Seek FIRST, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” God is first. We have a thirst for first and I believe that thirst for first is put there by the God of the universe. So start young.
Third, when you give in no one will win. We have this tendency to give in. We have this tendency when we give a directive to like say, you know, I drew the line. I said, “Don’t jump that fence” but now I changed my mind. God is not capricious or cruel. He is strategic, he is consistent. And parents, one of the greatest things we can do for our kids is to mirror the consistency of God. Being consistent. Being consistent. Being consistent. If we say something we follow through.
Whenever I teach leaders I say, you’ve got to understand three things. Delegation without investigation is an abomination. In the family, on the team, in school, Fortune 500 company.
“Oh delegation is so sexy and cool I just got it off my plate. Outta sight, outta mind. I mean I love to delegate. I’m a delegating machine, baby.” Well that’s just part of it. The tough part, the part where you’ve got to get up in someone’s face is investigation.
You give your son a responsibility. “Hey, son, be in by 11.” You’re in bed at 11, all of a sudden his truck rolls in at 11:15. Door opens. What do you do?
“Oh, it’s just 15, no big deal. No big deal. Just 15 minutes.”
“I just don’t feel like it. I’m tired. I need some sleep.”
No. Get up and talk about the 15. “Car keys please. Thank you very much.” High-end technology, “Thank you very much.”
“But dad! Come on, man! It’s just 15 minutes! I’m outta here!”
“Go ahead. I’ll help you pack your bags.” That’s the problem. We cave in. When you give in, no one will win.
Illus: When I was a kid I played pee-wee football and during the off season we still played football in my back yard. But the problem was we didn’t know where out-of-bounds was. “Oh, it’s by that tree, it’s gotta line up with the house,” then we’re like arguing or whatever.
So then I looked and I noticed my brother’s sandbox full of this beautiful white sand. So I lined off, by myself, my own football field in our back yard using sand. It was the talk of the neighborhood! People loved it! Yard lines and hash marks and it was great! And we played one day and it was like,
“Oh man, you’re out of bounds!” Yep, I’m out of bounds.
“Oh, that’s a touchdown!” Yeah, I know.
The next day we’re ready to play again. Heard thunder, lightning, the rains came. A gulley-washer, a frog-choker, and I watched to my horror the field was gone. Lined off one day, next day you couldn’t tell anything was there.
I’ve done that before as a parent. OK, here’s the line. I’m lining it off. The storm comes… what line? What are you talking about?
“Yesterday, Dad, that was a touchdown and now you’re throwing a penalty?” You gotta be consistent. Consistent. And I know it’s difficult, parents. I know it’s challenging. I know you gotta endure it and you’ve gotta fight, but it’s worth the fight.
Number 4, oh this is one of my favorites. Give proper pay when they disobey. I kinda touched on this earlier but let me emphasize this again. The punishment – and punishment is part of discipline. There’s discipline and there’s a punishment aspect to it – the punishment should match the crime. That takes some creativity. But the great thing is the older your kids get the more creative you can become. And even now, our twins are 19, EJ is 21. Of course, LeeBeth is out of the house, she’s 26. But the other 3 are still in our home. And if they’re under your roof, man, you’re still the man. You know?
Sometimes when we’re having a family meal I’ll see him doing like this. Texting across the table. I’ll say, “Hey ho! What the hecknology? Turn your phones off! Let’s talk.” So many kids these days, they don’t know how to talk any more. <muttering sounds> They be doing this so much. <yelling>
Technology is great. I love it. But if you’re not careful it can become the tail that wags the dog, and that tail could be the tail of a pit bull. <barking sound> Be careful. That sound effect was free. I’m gonna write one day the Sound Effects Bible, I promise you I am. I’m serious.
Well, I want to go through some more but I can’t. next week we’ll go through the other four and we’ll end up having 8. See, octagon. Get it? Yeah, OK. But anyway, let’s pray. No one moving or stirring.
[Ed leads closing prayer.]