Gospel-Centered Discipline

I’m working my way through Ed Moll and Tim Chester’s small book “Gospel-Centered Family: Becoming the Parents God wants you to be” and I wanted to share some words they have on discipline.

Here are some wrong motivations for discipline:

  • The desire for a quiet life
  • The desire for respect or appreciation
  • A fear of being embarrassed
  • Wanting to have our own way or be in control
  • Wanting your child to be “a success”

I’m quite certain that anyone who has ventured to read this post (and who has children) can resonate with some of the aforementioned wrong motivations.  As my eyes hit each one I was convicted of my shallow and many times selfish motivation for discipline.  God has used my children in a myriad of ways and one of those ways is to expose several idols in my heart.  For example, idols such as comfort, convenience and what people think of me (reputation, respect, etc.) have come front-and-center as I’m confronted with the question, “why do I discipline?”  That being said…

What is good discipline?

  • Good discipline is calm.  The focus of discipline is the child’s heart rather than your emotional state.
  • Good discipline is clear.  Make your commands clear.
  • Good discipline is consistent.  Set boundaries.  Always follow through with your warnings.  And there must be consistency between spouses.
  • Good discipline concentrates on the heart.  The most important thing about good discipline is that it’s concentrated on the heart.

Here some ideas they give for discipline:

  • Expressions of disapproval (a stern talking to)
  • A calm smack preceded by an explanation and followed by an embrace
  • Isolation (sending them to their room, grounding them)
  • Letting children face the natural consequences of their actions (let them be late for school, don’t replace toys they’ve carelessly broken)
  • Removing privileges (because privileges go together with responsibilities)

Here’s a great quote by Moll/Chester and then I’ll conclude with some statements they make.

Grace doesn’t mean no discipline. Instead, it changes the way we discipline.  We combine discipline with love and acceptance.  We discipline our children and point to the forgiveness won on the cross.  We accept our children as they are, but with an agenda for change. (pp. 47)

They ask the question (and you might be as well), “what does this mean in practice?”

  • Discipline and then stop. Don’t harbor a grudge.
  • Always show acceptance to your children when you’ve disciplined them.
  • Discipline your own heart.  If we’re angry, we’ll most likely discipline out of anger.  Discipline should be an act of love and not retaliation.
  • Don’t use bribery to control your children.  Teach children to do the right thing because it’s the right – not because of any unrelated reward.  Bribery motivates children to get the reward rather than do the right thing (it makes behavior negotiable).
  • Make sure your child knows you discipline them because you love them.
  • Legalism looks down on other people because that makes you feel good about yourself.
  • Don’t compare your child to other children.
  • Apologize to your children when you don’t get it right.
  • Above all, bring your children to the cross!  Teach them about the cross.  Extol the cross. Thank God with them for the cross. Sing about the cross.

All of the content of this post was taken from Ed Moll and Tim Chester’s book “Gospel-Centered Family: Becoming The Parents God Wants You To Be.”

2 thoughts on “Gospel-Centered Discipline

  1. Are there any large contrasts with this book and Ted Tripp’s books? Thanks.

    Also, on the bottom of this post there was a YouTube ad for the Fiat500. I assume you didn’t put it there, as it featured a provocatively dressed Italian model. Just thought I’d let you know about that.

    • Justin, sorry about delay in responding. There seems to be a lot of the same principles with Tripp’s book, but to be honest I haven’t compared and contrasted them to truly answer your question. Good to hear from you.


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