Most parents recognize that there has to be some semblance of discipline in the home in order for it to run smoothly, for its occupants to enjoy living in it and with each other. When you're a family six, this is even more true.
And while what is in our children's heart is the most crucial, my wife and I do our best to teach them how to obey while they are very young. Once they've learned to obey, then we can move on to conversations and teaching that helps them recognize issue of the heart and (hopefully) how to resolve them.
In our house, there are three characteristics to true obedience:
- Right away
- All the way
- A cheerful attitude
Obedience without all three of these characteristics is not truly obeying. If I have to ask a child to do something more than once, that is not obedience. If they obey immediately, but give a half hearted effort and do a poor job, that is not obedience. And even if they act immediately and do a good job, but complain all the while, that also is not true obedience.
It's a good list. And although I sometimes fail to do my job, patiently and gently ensuring that all three characteristics are upheld, all in all it works for us.
Yesterday I was struck by my own hypocrisy though. How often do I fail my heavenly Father in one of these three ways? There are promptings throughout my day, of which I often ignore. It might be as simple as picking up someone's garbage as I ride to work, or smiling and nodding at the homeless person on the street. Even worse, I sometimes, many times, fail to give my most to all my duties, the dreary, less-than-glorious tasks I'm responsible for.
It's easy to shrug these off — they're small things. But isn't that how it starts:
He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.
I long to hear those words from my Father, that I have been faithful in little things. As I teach my children the same principles, I pray that they will be teaching me to act the same.