No one likes discipline. My first though about it is pain. I remember disobeying my mother and telling her “NO!”. My dad taught me the old-fashioned way not to do that. Or the time I shot a spit ball across the classroom and was sent to the principles’ office for “disciplinary action.” Discipline never sounds good.
Why is self-discipline different? After all, few of us would be concerned with disciplining ourselves for some perceived indiscretion. Self-discipline is training yourself to be a better person. It is self-discipline that tells us to do our homework if we are in school. It tells us to be at work on-time or early. It teaches us to monitor and control our spending.
Self-discipline keeps us on-track. But it is not a skill that is commonly taught to young children. Many children today are raising themselves on the internet and television. We all know how well those media teach self-discipline. An untrained child is more likely to be an offender than one that has been properly trained.
When we were raising children I never needed to spank or strike the kids in any way. They were taught by example and by denial of privileges. That is the basis of self-discipline. First, we need to teach our children to want to do the right things. They will learn this by our example. If we display anger, greed, selfishness, or any negative action, our children will imitate us (See: Galatians 5:19-21). If we practice kindness, mildness, faith, truth, and love, our children will imitate us (See: Galatians 5:22-23).
Second, we need to teach our children to delay gratification. This means, for example, “finish your homework before playing games”. Or, “earn the money to buy something you want before you get it.” Self-discipline means doing the right things now in order to have the best things later. This principle works in all areas of life.
In the Rotary Club “Choices” Program, we use real-life examples to teach the importance of self-discipline. For example, if a young person will be self-disciplined to focusing on schoolwork, obtaining a higher education will be easier. If that young person practices self-disciple, in college, a career will be easier to maintain. If that same person continues to practice self-discipline, retirement could be a breeze.
It is more difficult than it sounds to get the idea through to a young person that has not had proper training when they were very young. As parents, we are responsible to train our children in what is best for them and the communities we share. I believe taking children to a healthy, supportive church will add to the effective training of children.
There is nothing wrong with teaching children to dress-up for church, sit quietly and listen, and learn polite manners. If more young people were taught properly, we would see less crime and vagrancy. Find your spiritual life and lead your children to success.
Blessings and Peace to You All,
Rev. Dr. David Bridges is the pastor at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Grove. He can be reached at email@example.com. St. Andrew's worship service is at 10 a.m., every Sunday, and broadcast on KWXC 88.9 FM at 5 p.m. on Saturday and 7:30 a.m. on Sunday.