Thousands of books have been written about parenting and systems of controlling your child’s behavior. I was exposed to a multitude of behavior management programs in my 17 years as a secondary school teacher and administrator. There is one thing all these programs have in common – pragmatically they all work. Most are based upon behavior modification techniques of stimulus and response. The outcome is a child who around their parent or others who the child is conditioned to respond to, will behave as trained or will receive the known consequence. The child stays out of trouble in these controlled environments and the parent’s stress level is reduced.
Another common element in these parenting paradigms is a consistent correction format that in many of the Christian programs is spanking the child regimentally. The correction may include prayer, reading Scripture and then a hug. What I want to point out from the Scriptures the next few days is that the concept of the rod for correcting foolishness as used by God as a model for us is not so narrow.
Starting out, the definition of the word rod as found in the Old Testament is that is was a staff, scepter or a branch. Examples of how it was used are it was to beat cumin (Isaiah 28:27), as a weapon (2 Samuel 23:21), a shepherd’s implement (Leviticus 27:32), an implement to protect and guide (Psalm 23:4), and a mark of authority (Genesis 49:1).
The word rod is used in many forms in the Scripture when applied to correcting rebellion and foolishness which shows that God disciplines in a variety of ways:
I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men (2 Samuel 7:14)
Let him take his rod away from me, and let not dread of him terrify me. (Job 9:34)
For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. (Isaiah 9:4)
Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury! (Isaiah 10:5)
I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath; (Lamentations 3:1)
What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness? (1 Corinthians 4:21)
(The rod and the gospel tomorrow)
I took a different direction for class today than I had originally planned after prayer and thought. It seemed we needed to drill a bit deeper into the concept of training our children and the use of correction. So this week in the posts, I will head in that direction.
By correction I mean an instrument that enhances the instruction and training of a child. The rod of correction is meant for foolishness which is when a child has rejected the instruction and training that a parent or legitimate authority in their life has given.
The biggest mistake that parents make in the discipline process of their child is that they do not train them. 2 Timothy 3:16 informs us that the Word of God is not just for instruction, but also trains and corrects us. Training consists of taking instruction and then applying it to the child to develop the instruction into a habit. Once accomplished, the child becomes “fully trained” in the task.
An example of this process is telling your child to clean their room. What do you mean by clean? A training session would consist of showing the child how to clean their room and what you clearly mean by what defines a clean room. It is showing and repeating with the child the tasks involved. It may take a few times but eventually they will be “fully trained” so that when told to clean their room, the command is clear and understood. So should they not do so, it is a deliberate action of rebellion and classified as foolish.
Another example may be calling your child to the dinner table. This should only have to be done once and given a few minutes to respond, the child should obey. To train them may consist of dad sitting with the child before dinner and when mom makes the call to be at the table in 5 minutes, dad shows the child what they need to do at that point. It might consist of turning off media devices, putting toys away and then proceeding to the table. Dad can make a game out it and repeat the actions several times to let the idea sink in of being “fully trained” so mom does not have to repeat the call. Once done and the child does not respond as trained, it is a deliberate foolish act calling for correction.
(Next post will be the beginning of several posts on correcting foolishness biblically and spotlighting the gospel in the process)