Heartfelt Discipline


Heartfelt Discipline: Following God's Path of Life to the Heart of Your Child by Clay Clarkson has been one of the best books I have read lately, but especially in the parenting genre. I can't say enough about how important the truths regarding discipline are that I learned in this book. As a Christian parent, I don't have the option of whether or not to discipline our children. My husband and I are commanded in Scripture to instruct and teach our children, but what does that look like?

Clay Clarkson, author of Educating the Whole Hearted Child and father of four, takes a fresh look at parenting and re-evaluates some of the quick, go-to methods that we have a tendency to use in our parenting. While Scripture is very clear that we must "bring [our children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" it isn't especially clear on how to discipline them and we need to be careful not to resort to what comes naturally to us, but rather to the principles that God has laid out for us in His Word.

Heartfelt Discipline helps us take a look at what the Bible says about childhood discipline and allows us to see that God has provided a way to biblically discipline our children as we walk our own path with God. This approach to parenting doesn't rely on methods, but rather on our faith in God, our relationship with him, the Holy Spirit and and the heart of both the parent and child.

Clay shares three key principles of discipline for us to follow:
  1. Direction--Guiding and showing our children how to walk the path with God
  2. Correction--Getting your children back on the path when sin leads them off of it
  3. Protection--Guarding them from temptations that could draw them away.
To give you some of the heart behind this book read what Clay says: 
"After years of relying on everything but the Spirit of God, we finally realized that God wanted us to live by faith when it came to raising our children. He wanted us to depend on Him--on the power of His Spirit and the wisdom of His Word--rather than on formulas, experts, or our parenting skills. It was not flesh, feelings, or formula that would make us effective parents, but faith--living in the power of the Holy Spirit who works moment by moment in our hearts and minds to help us be more like Christ. And isn't that what we want our children to see--Christ in us, especially in our discipline? That is a biblical truth so simple and radical that it can change how you look at all of life, but especially at your life at home with your children." p. 80

What I Thought

This is not a quick read. At least it wasn't for me! I found myself pausing frequently to mull over what I had just read, to stop and confess areas where I focused on the urgency of getting the discipline over with rather than the heart of discipline, or to stop and pray that God would help us to grow in specific areas.

I truly believe that this book is applicable to anyone who works with children or has children or grandchildren because it helps direct our discipline towards the children in our life in a biblical, loving manner. "The Bible shows us that childhood discipline is a dynamic relationship between parent, child, and God. Understanding that three-way spiritual relationship will change how you think about discipline as a parent." p. 81

"Many Christian parents, myself included, tend to speak as though [their children] were Pharisees when addressing their children. We can speak harshly and with judgment, implying by our manner that we believe their hearts are hard and resistant. But this attitude is not justified by Scripture. There is no record of Jesus ever speaking to a child in a harsh tone. When the Gospels record Him speaking to a child, it is always with gentleness. Our children are not our adversaries. Though our children's hearts are corrupted by sin, they are not hardened sinners who have made conscious choices to reject the Savior. Our children are simply immature and childish. That's why children need the grace of love and compassion, not the legal harshness of shame and guilt." p. 165

I spent quite a bit of timing underlining or making notes in this book so that those things that stood out to me most would be readily identified again. There are so many thoughts I could share from this book, but I'll let you wait and get you're own copy!  Here's one of my favorites though:

"Paul reminded us that 'God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us' (Romans 5:8). God didn't wait for us to get it all right. Instead He saw something in us worth redeeming because we are stamped with His image. His love looked past our sin to see our potential in Christ. As parents, we are called to love our children that way, to express our belief in them and in what they can become despite their sin, and to see God at work in them before they see it themselves." p. 115

If you have a heart for your kids and want to help them grow in their walk with Christ I think you'll really benefit from this book. If you'd like to order a copy of your own Heartfelt Discipline, stop by www.wholeheart.org to get yours today. I hope you found this review helpful and encouraging.

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