Godly Principles for Classroom Discipline
Classroom discipline is one of the most difficult aspects of children’s ministry. Tactics we may use at home with our own children are not permissible when dealing with other people children. Recently, I started rereading the book of Genesis and I found myself drawn to the method of God’s discipline when dealing with the sin of Adam and Eve. It speaks to me particularly as a parent yet provides excellent principles to follow in regard to discipline in my classroom as well.
1. Discipline involves pain. Let me start this off by noting that work isn’t part of the punishment. We were created to work (Genesis 2:5).The punishment was not having to work but the pain that would now be involved. It would no longer be easy, carefree and dare I say, FUN!
As a children’s ministry leader, I need to make sure the “punishment” or redirection is meaningful and invokes sacrifice which will produce character altering consequences. Discipline needs to be relevant to the individual child and circumstance deserving correction.
2. The work of discipline yields fruit. There was a prosperous end result to the toils of their labor-the harvest. They had to work harder and learn new ways to conquer the obstacles that now oppose their efforts. Yet, the work of their hands still produced bountiful blessings from God and hopefully, a more humble and God refined character. God allows us to enjoy the fruit of our labor as we walk in obedience and it is even better when we remember to consecrate it to Him.
Likewise, I need to ensure that the punishment or redirection has a positive yield, something they can take away from it and add to their life.
Two ways to accomplish this are to: 1. Make sure the punishment is relevant to the child and the action (as stated previously). In Genesis 4, God modeled this with Cain. Although his sin was murder, God cursed the ground which was Cain’s job and what he took pleasure in. 2. Make sure the child understands why the punishment was given and teach him how to modify his behavior in the future.
3. God covered their shame. Shame was a result of sin not God’s discipline. God covered Adam and Eve’s shame by providing clothing to cover their nakedness (Genesis 3:21). I love that God provided the garments. He didn’t have them add to their grief by making them kill the animal to make skins to wear. He showed his compassion and mercy for them.
Shame should never be part of the punishment. Shame destroys and is counterproductive to restoration. A proper punishment will be corrective and not serve to further demise the psychological integrity of the child. This doesn’t mean to withhold discomfort as discussed in the first point. The punishment should help correct and restore the child to a right standing and to instruct them in the way of godliness.
4. God allowed for restoration. God put guards in place at the garden to protect the tree of life and prevent man from eating of it prematurely. If man had taken fruit from that tree while in his sin state, we would not have had the opportunity to be restored through Jesus Christ. God provided Jesus–the Way to be truly and completely restored into a right relationship with Him. Restoration is a vital element in the discipline process and should be the desired outcome.
Thank you, God, for your mercy and compassion. Thank you for showing me how to be a better parent and providing a model for godly discipline for me to follow. And thank you most of all for providing Jesus who willing gave himself in my place so that I can have a right relationship with you. In Jesus Name~Amen.
Great verses on the importance of training children in godliness and the benefits of godly discipline.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
2 Corinthians 7:10