A Perfect Model to Replicate & Emulate
This is the third and last in my March Parenting Month series. I saved the best for last, because this is where it all comes together.
Now that we've seen we need to balance between the two extremes of permissive friends and restrictive authority figures with our children and how and when to say “yes” to our children, now we move on to the ultimate example of good parenting – God Himself.
Two members of the Trinity, God the Father and Jesus the Son, both show us traits of a good parent, traits we need to be observing and replicating in our own Christian parenting.
1. God as a Disciplining Father
God Himself is the ultimate parent, and He is our heavenly Father who disciplines us.
1 John 3:1a (NIV): “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
Deuteronomy 8:5 (NLT): “Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good.”
Proverbs 13:24 (ESV): “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”
Proverbs 19:18 (NIV): “Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.”
I Corinthians 11:31-32 (ESV): “But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.”
Galatians 4:6 (NLT): “And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, ‘Abba, Father.’”
Hebrews 12:5-11 (ESV): “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Therefore, we should model our parenting after God's perfect example and discipline our children. That means using whatever means necessary to teach our hard-headed children integrity and obedience.
2. Jesus as the Good Shepherd
Shepherds are guides, who put the welfare of the sheep above everything. The Bible talks about both the Father and the Son as being Shepherds:
We know that God the Father disciplines (KJV “chastises”) His true children. He mentions the “rod of discipline” several times, such as a shepherd would use:
Psalm 23:1-4 (ESV): “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.”
2 Samuel 7:14 (NLT): “I [God] will be his [David's] father, and he will be my son. If he sins, I will correct and discipline him with the rod, like any Father would do.”
And Jesus (the physical representation of an invisible God , Hebrews 1:3) called Himself the Good Shepherd:
John 10:10-15 (ESV): “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
The shepherd's rod was used for several different purposes:
to protect the flock as a weapon of attack
to discipline a straying sheep with a strike on the head as motivation to turn back onto the right track (Psalm 23:4; Micah 7:14; Ezekiel 20:37; Leviticus 27:32)
the same Hebrew word used as rod, staff, club, or—interestingly—a king's sceptre (Numbers 24:17). According to Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew concordance, the same word “for smiting especially) is used “for beating” cummin in Isaiah 28:27, “as [an] (inferior) weapon” in 1 Chronicles 11:3, figurative of God's chastisement is 1 Samuel 17:40, 43; Isaiah 10:24, 30:31, 14:29, 10:5, and Lamentations 3:1)
You might then ask the question, “Does discipline with a rod means physical (corporal) punishment such as spanking?” I have made no bones in the past that I do believe in spanking, though I personally don't use it as often as I used to. It worked well with my oldest son, but my youngest son would rather have a spanking than any other punishment.
In fact, in my admittedly limited experience, I have seen that the more hard-headed the child, the less physical punishment will do any good. Children whose love language is Physical Touch need a soft hand, much more often than the administration of physical discipline, or they will feel abused and unloved.
However, I firmly believe in the right of each parent to spank a child—use the rod a shepherd would—if they do it in love, without anger, and along with words of instruction and wisdom and life-building affirmations. The problem comes when a parent spanks in any other way.
There are other ways of disciplining, of teaching a lesson so that it is truly learned, such as isolating the child, taking away privileges, by example, and positive reinforcement (rewards). We as parents should train our children like God trains us to live godly, using the correct means and because of correct motivations—for the good of the child only (not for our own ease or relief of our frustrations.
3. Jesus as a Mother Hen
Hens shelter their chicks from the elements as well as from potential enemies. They also nurture and teach the chicks, giving them what they need to grow and to survive.
Matthew 23:37 (NASB): “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.”
Luke 13:34 (NLT): "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God's messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me.”
God the Father shows how to discipline our children lovingly and with only their good in mind. Jesus the Son shows us how to shepherd and guide, and He also shows how to protect and nurture our children. God Himself is the standard for these traits of a good parent, traits we will now go replicate in our own parenting. Who’s with me?
What is your favorite parenting aspect? Either how God parents you or how you parent your children?