June 28, 2009
Obstacles To Character Training- Sin Nature (The Flesh)
So far, I covered the importance of parental stewardship and that God is seeking godly offspring. Also, I shared the importance of having a biblical philosophy of parenting. Today, I will talk more about character training and some obstacles you may be facing.
Obstacle #1 – The Sin Nature
I know this is hard for some of us to acknowledge but our little bundle of joy was born with a wretched sinful nature. You will not have to teach him or her how to say “no”, how to not share, say “mine”, or to outright defy you. It all just comes so naturally to this precious little sinner.
Galatians 5:16-1:7 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
If you are not expecting your child to disobey you and use every bit of his strength to oppose you, you will be a disillusioned parent.
Proverbs 22:15 is clear “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
Our primary objective, as parents, is to teach our children to surrender to the Spirit and not to the sinful nature.
One way to accomplish this is to teach them self-control.
When Tim and I were young parents we learned this reality through very difficult circumstances. When our oldest daughter was eighteen months old she was diagnosed as hearing impaired/deaf. She had no form of communication other than screaming with great frustration, flailing her body, or throwing whatever she had in her hand. Sometimes she would bite, pull hair, or push another child down in her attempt to communicate. It was a very difficult time for us as parents because we had lofty ideals about training our child and they just weren’t working. No matter what we tried, nothing seemed to get through to her.
One day someone said to me “The greatest thing you can teach your daughter is self-control. If she can learn to control herself, she can learn anything.” It was an ah-ha moment for us. We started on a long journey of discipline and instruction. After much prayer and deliberation, Tim and I came up with a plan that we were both comfortable with and agreed to follow it consistently. Teaching our daughter to control herself became a priority. For example: If she wanted a snack she would have to use sign language and use her voice in a calm manner rather than screaming uncontrollably. We had many long days of nothing but instruction. For many of those days, I was tempted to give up because of discouragement. But by enduring, we were able to teach her to control herself so that she could learn. So much peace came to her once she realized that there was another way to communicate which was pleasant and got her the desired response. She started using her voice in a more pleasant way and became an all around pleasant little girl.
I don’t want to minimize the work that went into this process. Because it was apparent our little girl would never be able to function in society if we didn’t make the changes necessary, it propelled us to do the hard work. In our case, the consequences of not teaching self-control were obvious. But for many, the results aren’t seen until it’s too late to make a difference.
Many times in our attempt to address a behavior we, as parents, actually react with the same behavior we are correcting in our children. This makes our attempt to correct or instruct meaningless.
We cannot simply allow our children to negatively “express themselves” without correction. We must love them enough to resist their self-destruction.
Galatians 3:24-25 clarifies this process: Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law(boundaries), locked up until faith should be revealed, so the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. (NIV)
Our goal is not to just have “good” or “well behaved” children. Our goal as parents is to be good stewards over our children directing them to Jesus Christ by the law. In turn, they will grow in relationship with Him through faith and therefore become obedient to His Spirit. This is when they have there own personal AH-HA moment and realize, “This is why Mom and Dad taught me self-control, so that I would avoid self-destruction before I came to Christ.”
Galatians 5:18-23: But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy , peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (NIV)
I encourage you to ask yourself, “Am I willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to build character in my child?” Will you make the adjustments necessary to model the character you are teaching?