August 17, 2010

Tedd Tripp on Discipline with Anger

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21

If you allow unholy anger to muddy the correction process, you are wrong. You need to ask for forgiveness. Your right to discipline your children is tied to what God has called you to do, not to your own agenda.

Unholy anger -- anger over the fact that you are not getting what you want from your child -- will muddy the waters of discipline. Anger that your child is not doing what you want frames discipline as a problem between parent and child, not as a problem between the child and God. It is God who is not being obeyed when you are disobeyed. It is God who is not being honored when you are not honored. The issue is not an interpersonal contest, it is rather your insistence that your child obey God, because obeying God is good and right.

We know that there is such a thing as righteous indignation, but righteous indignation responds to an affront to God rather than an affront to us. It is easy for a parent to say, "I am right and I am angry, therefore my anger is righteous anger." It may be that we are just angry because we are not getting what we want.

No Place for Anger
I have spoken to countless parents who genuinely thought their unholy anger had a legitimate place in correction and discipline. They reasoned that they could bring their children to a sober fear of disobeying if they showed anger. So discipline became the time when Mom or Dad manipulated their children through raw displays of anger. What the child learns is the fear of man, not the fear of God.

James 1 demonstrates the falsehood of the idea that parents should underscore correction with personal rage:

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
(James 1:19-20)

The Apostle James could not be more clear. The righteous life that God desires is never the product of uncontrolled anger. Unholy human anger may teach your children to fear you. They may even behave better, but it will not bring about biblical righteousness.

Any change in behavior that is produced by such anger is not going to move your children toward God. It moves them away from God. It moves them in the direction of the idolatry of fearing man. No wonder James add emphasis by saying, "Dear brothers, take note of this . . . "

If you correct and discipline your children because God mandates it, then you need not clutter up the task with your anger. Correction is not displaying your anger at their offenses; it is rather reminding them that their sinful behavior offends God. It is bringing his censure of sin to these subjects of his realm. He is the King. They must obey.

Tedd Tripp. Shepherding a Child's Heart. Second Edition. Wapwallopen: Shepherd Press. 2005. pg 29 and 34. ISBN 0-9663786-0-1


The Culbertsons said...

This is such a great book! Josh actually read it before we had children (for a class) and we have re-read it now that we have to discipline. I needed this reminder today of what discipline is all about.

By the way, I really appreciate your blog Meggan. Love reading it!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Meggan. I just wanted to say thanks for the reminder re: anger. We consider Shepherding a Child's Heart to be our parenting handbook second to scripture. It is so full of scripture and sound, Biblical advice for parents.

I stumbled upon your blog recently and have enjoyed your posts. Your girls are precious. May God bless your sweet family. I pray your newest little arrives safely!

Amy in AL