So That My Children Won’t Despair of Scripture

So That My Children Don't Despair of Scripture

My four-year-old son said something the other day that really shook me up.  Really shook me up.

It wasn’t anything that you’re probably expecting.

Like, “I want to be a killer clown for Halloween.”

Or, “Mom!  I pierced the baby’s ears.  But I missed and did her cheeks instead.”

Or, “What does the word *insert expletive here* mean?”

No, this was something that slapped me awake.  Slapped me awake out of my self-righteous parenting stupor.

Rudy (the four-year-old) had been acting like a…well, like a four-year-old.  I don’t even remember the circumstances…probably something to do with him bothering his younger brother.

What I do remember is seeing this “abhorrent” behavior take place and swooping in to discipline and instruct.

I pulled Rudy aside and began reciting Ephesians 4:32 (“…be kind to one another, tenderhearted…”).

It was textbook awesome parenting.  Fight sin with Scripture!  Is your child struggling with bad behavior?  Bam!  Unleash God’s Word!

Yes…and no.

About halfway through that recitation of Ephesians 4:32 (and let me tell you, I was using the best gentle/loving/soft voice you’ve ever heard), he said it.  The words that have since changed me.

“Mom.  I know.”

And since I can’t really convey tone through a keyboard, allow me to describe his tone to you.

Total exasperation.  Total despair.

How could that be??  How could constantly using God’s Word produce such a despair?

I took Rudy’s words with me back to my bedroom and thought for a while.  I thought about the how and when and why of my keeping Scripture before my children.

And God showed me something.

It is very simple, but very effectual.

I used Scripture to correct.  I often pointed out to my children where they failed Scripture.  Where their behavior wasn’t lining up.  The Bible to them had become a negative pre-spanking tool.

But had I ever used Scripture to point out where they were fulfilling God’s law?  God’s Word is more than just a tool for correcting sinful behavior…it is also a means of celebrating when our little ones’ character does line up with the character of Christ!

I was humbled, convicted, broken.  I don’t want to create for my children a world in which the only time Scripture is mentioned is when they are in “trouble”.  That sounds like a miserable world…a world where God’s law would be despaired of.

So what now?

Well, there is more to Ephesians 4:32 than just reproof and correction, so let’s start there since that is where this whole mess began.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.”

Every day presents so many opportunities to use this verse to not only correct, but encourage my children!

Did Rudy just offer Mark a bite of his mud pie?  He was kind!  He fulfilled God’s desire for His people to be kind, just like it says in Ephesians 4:32!

The first time I used Scripture in this way with Rudy he literally lit up with joy.  According to the Bible, Rudy’s behavior and heart is just what God wanted!!  It was as if he couldn’t even believe it.  I think it’s the first time he has ever felt truly connected to God and His Word.  That fact alone makes me cry tears of shame and joy at the same time.

Yes, I still use God’s Word to correct and remind, but those same verses are now being used to celebrate my children’s victories.  The Bible is breathing life into my home and into my children!  And truly, it is breathing life into me as well.  I can honestly say that it feels good to use God’s Word in a joyful manner.

These are some verses that I exclusively used as a “rod”.  Now I see that they can be used to praise godly character as well:

  • Philippians 2:4 – “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  Has your child allowed someone else to pick the movie, go first, or have the last slice?  They have fulfilled the heart of this verse!  Tell them!
  • Colossians 3:20 – “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”  Has your son or daughter obeyed you the first time, even when it was really hard?  Read them this verse!  They have brought joy to their Heavenly Father’s heart!
  • I Corinthians 13:4 – “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.”  It’s probably safe to say that this particular verse is tucked away in every mommy’s correcting arsenal.  But it can be used to praise the behavior listed in the verse, as well!  When your child is displaying Christ-like love to someone, refer them to this verse…show them, tell them how precious their heart is in that moment!

The Lord has blessed me with three lives, three souls, to tend to.  They are not machines that need to be programmed just right in order to produce a more efficient, more perfect output.  I don’t need to treat motherhood that way.

I will probably struggle with legalism and do-goodism for the rest of my life, but I resolve to fight and pray against it hard.

May we (mommies) offer our children the full picture when it comes to God’s Word.  His Word that not only reproves, but restores.  Breeds discipline, but breathes life.

“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:26

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Fellow Mommies, I would love to hear some of your thoughts.  🙂

Lauren Souers
Hi, my name is Lauren. I am the wife of one fine man and the momma of four (huge) young children – three boys and one princess! I love all of them. I mostly clean up messes and feed people all day, and it’s really fun to write about it. Jesus is the rock of my family – we love and serve a mighty King! I hope you leave here full of hope that “tired” can be good.

27 Comments on So That My Children Won’t Despair of Scripture

  1. Linette McMahon
    May 9, 2014 at 11:21 am (3 years ago)

    Rudy, Mark, and Mae are blessed to have a mom who hears, listens to and obeys God’s voice of correction and reproof. You demonstrate exactly the thing you want to communicate to them! Happy Mother’ day to you sweet friend!

    Reply
    • Lauren Souers
      May 9, 2014 at 12:26 pm (3 years ago)

      You are so encouraging. 🙂 Thank you, Mrs. Linette!

      Reply
  2. Jamie
    May 9, 2014 at 4:30 pm (3 years ago)

    Yup. I neeeeeeeeded that. Lately I’ve been totally exasperated by my four-year-old. TOTALLY DONE. This was a well timed reminder that I’m meant to be gentle. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Lauren Souers
      May 9, 2014 at 4:41 pm (3 years ago)

      Funny how someone that you love so much can drive you so crazy. 🙂 I’m just thankful that God is in the business of changing hearts and not me.

      Reply
  3. Lain Hodges
    May 9, 2014 at 7:33 pm (3 years ago)

    Lauren,
    Thanks for your vulnerable and honest report from the netherworld of parenting small children. You reminded me of this very important teaching from God’s word, which I hope to use soon with my grandchildren. It applies to us adults, too, in our dealing with one another.

    Lain

    Reply
    • Lauren Souers
      May 9, 2014 at 7:52 pm (3 years ago)

      Thank you for your encouragement! 🙂 It is really neat to hear that you are not just a “funsy” grandparent…I love your concern over their hearts! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Lea
    May 12, 2014 at 10:01 pm (3 years ago)

    Excellent parenting advice! Thank you for reminding us to teach our children to praise God with his Word as well as examine ourselves with it.
    Lea

    Reply
  5. Lauren Souers
    May 13, 2014 at 6:19 am (3 years ago)

    Thank you, Lea. 🙂
    Someone told me one time that my marriage would be the most sanctifying relationship I would ever experience. I am going to have to disagree…pretty sure it’s my relationship with my children. I’m not training my husband; I’m training my children. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Susan
    May 13, 2014 at 7:41 pm (3 years ago)

    This resonates so deeply with me! Just last week in disciplining my 5 year old he cried out “But Mommy ALL have sinned!” And isn’t he right? I am so glad he “gets it” and doesn’t think he’s perfect! What a great place to start… We all sin and fall short and need God’s grace. And his bringing that up showed me I expect perfection from him too much and lead him to the cross of God’s grace too infrequently. An hour later he told me he needed encouraging words from me :o) God is certainly using my son to remind me of my own sin, failures, and desperate need for encouragement from His Word.

    Reply
  7. Lauren Souers
    May 13, 2014 at 8:03 pm (3 years ago)

    From the mouth of babes…
    🙂
    Thank you for sharing. It’s so encouraging to know that I’m not in the thick of things alone.

    Reply
  8. Traci
    May 14, 2014 at 7:44 am (3 years ago)

    Lauren, this was beautifully written and very convicting! Thank you for being sensitive to the Spirit in your parenting and for sharing what God is teaching you!

    Reply
    • Lauren Souers
      May 14, 2014 at 3:21 pm (3 years ago)

      Thank you Traci! 🙂
      My prayer for myself throughout the week has been that, when it comes to parenting, “…I would know nothing among them but Christ crucified…” (I Cor.2:2)

      Reply
  9. Virginia
    June 6, 2014 at 12:41 pm (3 years ago)

    Lauren,
    I don’t really have anything new to say that these other women haven’t said already, but thank you so much for writing this post! It seems so simple, like duh! Of course his word is used for encouragement! But I really haven’t been convicted of this before. I don’t have kids yet but it’s good for me now and especially when Soren and I have kids. I teared up when you wrote about Rudy’s reaction to you using the verse for encouragement. So sweet and I bet it was so awesome to witness that! Love you Lauren! I need to catch up with you soon!

    Reply
    • Lauren Souers
      June 6, 2014 at 3:55 pm (3 years ago)

      Virginia, you are so darn encouraging! Thank you for your sweet words…and yes, you are so right, there are many “like, duh” moments in parenting. 🙂 I miss you a ton, friend!

      Reply
  10. Kara
    August 20, 2014 at 9:12 pm (3 years ago)

    Yes! Using Scripture is the best way to bless our children! Every night I pray words of blessing over my daughter. (I love John Trent’s book The Blessing.) These words of blessing are not words that are for her financial or material prosperity…but words of praise to God for the godly character qualities I see Him growing in her. It does my heart good to do this because it helps me to see how He is at work in her life. Thanks for this post!

    Reply
    • Lauren Souers
      August 22, 2014 at 6:35 am (3 years ago)

      As we love on our children with God’s Word, it also deeply affects and encourages us as well. Glad you were encouraged, Kara!

      Reply
  11. linda connelly
    August 21, 2014 at 1:31 pm (3 years ago)

    please send this to my email.

    Reply
    • Lauren Souers
      August 22, 2014 at 6:33 am (3 years ago)

      I would be happy to 🙂 I’ll email you the link.

      Reply
  12. Rebecca Houghton
    August 21, 2014 at 1:54 pm (3 years ago)

    I teach music in Peru. I´ve been composing melodies for Scriptures for help with maintaining them memorized, ready for reviewing and meditating.
    I have been thinking along your lines about just how much is sinking into the heart. I´m not the mom, but the children´s choir does such a great job and I just pray that they will used the Word all of their lives. Thanks for your insight.

    Reply
    • Lauren Souers
      August 22, 2014 at 6:32 am (3 years ago)

      Yes! I agree, Scripture put to music is one of the best ways to get it into our hearts and minds. What a wonderful ministry!

      Reply
  13. Char Yunker
    August 28, 2014 at 5:17 am (3 years ago)

    Thank you for the reminder! We have been parenting in the defense where we use scripture to correct & it has become exasperating and negative. God has been convicting me to begin offensively parenting where we TRAIN up out child with a positive atmosphere in our home. Reading this today has come at the right time. This is how we need to begin our offensive parenting. Thank you!!!

    Reply
    • Lauren Souers
      August 28, 2014 at 7:14 am (3 years ago)

      I love your perspective of defensive vs. offensive parenting. Thank you for the encouragement. 🙂

      Reply
  14. Christina
    April 17, 2015 at 7:20 am (2 years ago)

    Wow! Thank you!!!!!

    Reply
  15. Pam
    April 25, 2015 at 6:12 pm (2 years ago)

    I ran across this today only because I was printing out your compost article and saw to the right, about scripture. Oh my. It broke me. I can’t tell you how many times I have listened to my grandsons say the same thing to me that your little boy said to you, and how I have felt despair over how to get it through to them. I always felt like in my correcting that I was beating them over the head with God’s Word and it sure wasn’t leaving a good impression on them. Thank you thank you thank you! You have given me new hope for those times when they are with me and I can not only correct but praise them through the Word!!!!!

    Reply
    • Lauren Souers
      May 5, 2015 at 8:45 pm (2 years ago)

      Such encouraging words! Thank you for sharing 🙂

      Reply
  16. Christa Hardin
    September 3, 2015 at 8:04 pm (2 years ago)

    Thanks, great reminder to show them God’s perfect love!

    Reply

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