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Today’s discussion about how to reinforce Phase 2 is exceptionally important. It’s a step we as parents often get wrong, and I pray that our discussion and the resources I share with you will unlock the beauty and necessary Godward focus of our Phase 2 reinforcement.
But before we jump in, please allow me to open my heart to you. I created Evermind Ministries in the early 2000’s as a way to keep God’s truth at the center of the human experience. Truth.Love.Family. and its podcast, Truth.Love.Parent., as well as The Year Long Celebration of God and its podcast as well as Faithtree Biblical Counseling & Discipleship and my speaking ministry were created to teach and apply the Bible to every facet of your lives. And I believe that by the grace of God we have been faithful to that mission since the beginning.
However, Evermind Ministries is at a crossroads. To be completely frank, the ministry doesn’t have enough donors to afford to pay me a living wage. Though I have continued to work for Evermind Ministries full-time despite only receiving a $500 a month paycheck, I have recently had to start working outside of the ministry in order to support my family.
This has obviously resulted in having to reduce the time I spend ministering to people whose lives have been touched by Evermind and its family of ministries in order to make the money my family needs to live.
If this be God’s will for my life, then I gladly embrace it, but I have to admit that I believe it doesn’t have to be this way in order to glorify God. There are enough Evermind Followers, Family, and Friends to keep Evermind Ministries running and provide a living wage so that I can pour myself full-time into keeping God’s truth at the center of your life experiences.
So, all I ask is for you to prayerfully consider giving to support these ministries. Please visit TruthLoveParent.com/Donate to learn how easy it is.
And while you’re at TruthLoveParent.com, you can access today’s free episode notes, transcript, and reproof resources.
Thank you to our newest donors, and thank you to you for potentially becoming our next donor.
Now, let’s talk about how to reinforce our reproof.
It’s the Phase where we have to confront our kids about their sin.
And so we talked about various Christ-honoring methods for doing so. But the reproof stage is not just about what we say. It’s also about what we do.
Phase 2 is similar to Phase 1 in that they both involve teaching. But Phase 2 is different from Phase 1 in more ways than simple confrontation.
Christ-honoring reproof always involves consequences.
Now, before I jump in here, let me say if today’s material is new to you, we won’t be able to unpack it the way we need to. At the same time, we will be laying some key foundational truths on which to build our doctrine of biblical reproof.
That’s why I want you to know that we have a bunch of resources all about Christ-honoring consequences—what they are, why we need to give them, as well as how to give them.
For example, our Consequences Series is so important.
In that series you will learn about the Primary Consequences that occur every time a person sins. There is never a time that a person sins where they don’t receive consequences. But you’ll also learn about the Secondary Consequences that may or may not come into a person’s life, but—when they do—absolutely need to point to and support the Primary Consequences.
And this is where we as parents mess up so often.
So, I want to look at the ways we fail our kids by not reinforcing our reproof by establishing the need for consequences and the purpose of consequences.
1. We fail our children when we don’t teach them the biblical truths about consequences.
The Bible is not only filled with teaching about consequences, but it’s also filled with warnings about consequences. In addition, it’s filled with even more illustrations about consequences.
The Bible teaches us what they are and why they exist, and yet we parents often do not take the time to teach our kids what they are and why they exist. And if we do, it’s too often unbiblical.
We tend to teach our kids explicitly or implicitly that consequences are designed to punish you for behavior that I want you to change. But that’s not it at all.
Biblically speaking, consequences (good and bad) are the natural reactions to our actions. We live in a world where—physically and spiritually speaking—for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Consequences are inescapable because they’re required to exist. You would not be alive were it not for consequences. We actually like consequences and are glad that they exist in the vast majority of cases.
And, yes, punishment is a kind of consequence, but it’s not the only type, nor is it the main type.
Now, when it comes to consequences for sin, our kids need to be taught that . . .
A. Sin always has Primary Consequences.
Sin hurts the one who sinned, it hurts their relationship with God, and it hurts the people against whom they have sinned.
The most basic truth your kids need to learn about sin is that it always hurts everyone involved.
Please take the time to learn more about the three Primary Consequences of sin so that you can faithfully teach your kids God’s truth about the subject.
But we also need to teach our kids that . . .
B. Sin often requires Secondary Consequences.
Secondary Consequences are the ones that humans consciously put into each other’s lives. Some are good, many are bad, but when we speak of Secondary Consequences, most of the time we’re talking about the Christ-honoring kind.
Ask you child why they get grounded, why they have their technology confiscated, why they get time outs and spankings. I guarantee you that most of them will give the theologically incorrect answer. They’ll talk about punishment, and they’ll talk about making you mad. But most of them will not be able to correctly articulate the fact that Secondary Consequences are designed to help them remember and focus on the Primary Consequences and the lessons they’re designed to teach.
And they won’t be able to answer that way because they were never taught it.
So, we must teach our kids what consequences are and what they were designed to accomplish in our lives. But—of course—we can’t teach them . . . and, let’s be honest, we haven’t already taught them . . . because we don’t know the biblical nature and purpose of consequences. We’ve been taught the worldly view of consequences, and we’ve never questioned it.
But even when we have taught them these truths . . .
2. We fail our children when we don’t give them any Secondary Consequences.
If you’ve followed the show for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard me say that we lie to our kids about life when we fail to give them any consequences. Now, let me be honest, not giving any consequences is actually worse than giving bad consequences.
Allow me to explain. When I give bad consequences, my kids are at least learning one important truth . . . their actions have consequences.
But when we don’t give consequences, we’re lying to our kids that our actions don’t have necessary reactions. We’re lying to them that they can live however they want and that there will be no consequences for it.
My friends, we are living in a world where the vast majority of young people believe there are no consequences for their actions, beliefs, feelings, and desires. And it’s the parent’s fault that they were never taught the truth.
“But, Aaron, doesn’t love cover a multitude of sin? Isn’t it noble to turn a blind eye?”
The short answer is, “No way, not on your life, may it never be!” We have an episode called Should I Ever Ignore My Child’s Sin? that deals precisely with that verse and the biblical truths behind it.
Please listen to that episode in order to tune your theological understanding of what it means to cover sin with love.
But, unfortunately, not teaching our kids about consequences and not giving them consequences aren’t the only ways we fail our kids.
3. We fail our children when we don’t give them biblical Secondary Consequences.
And this is where I want to spend the bulk of our time today.
I said last time that I was adding a new idea onto our understanding of biblical reproof. Reproof is not merely telling someone they are wrong. That’s part of the process, but it’s not the entire process.
Biblical reproof is persuading someone that they are wrong.
Now, it’s not up to you if they refuse to be persuaded, but it is up to you to be as biblically persuasive as possible. Now, I say “biblically persuasive” to disillusion ourselves that manipulation and trying to control our kids is a Christ-honoring option. There are plenty of sinful ways to persuade people not to act in certain ways, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about persuading people of biblical truths, and that will never be accomplished using worldly methods.
So, how do we biblically persuade people? How do we reinforce the truths we’ve taught our kids? Well, let’s break that down here:
A. In order for your children to be persuaded that they made the wrong choice, they need to know that there is an authority who gets to decided what is wrong and right.
We talked about this in our episode about Phase 1 Content.
Do your kids know and understand that there is an absolute truth that teaches us that there is an objective right way and wrong way to live? If not, you need to teach them. If they’re still learning that truth (and, yes, it will take them quite a while to really know it and understand it), you need to continue teaching them these truths.
Teach it to them when they’re not doing wrong, and teach it to them when they have done wrong.
B. In order for your children to be persuaded that they made the wrong choice, they need to know the biblical truth behind why their choice was wrong.
Why was what they did wrong? Spoiler Alert! Their choice wasn’t wrong because you disagreed with it, didn’t like it, were inconvenienced by it, were annoyed by it, had enough of it, can’t take it any more, or any other of the self-worshipping, idolatrous reasons we have for believing that our kids have done wrong.
No, if what they did were wrong, then there will be biblical truth that will reveal that what they did was a sin.
By the way, so much of our discipline really misses the mark because we focus on all the wrong stuff. An example I like to use comes from when I used to be the Dean of Students at Schaumburg Christian School outside of Chicago.
We had a rule that the boys had to keep their shirts tucked in while at school. However, that was one of the rules that was broken more than any other—at least one of the most visible rules that was broken.
And one day an exasperated teacher proclaimed around the lunch table, “I feel like most of my school day is wasted giving out consequences for dress infractions than actually teaching academics.”
And how did he propose fixing the problem? He thought we should get rid of the tucked in shirt rule. And that’s a perfect example of a wrong focus. He rightly acknowledged that not having a tucked in shirt was not inherently sinful, but his main focus was the affect not tucking shirts in had on him. Therefore, it made all the sense in the world to simply get rid of the rule.
But I took that moment to share with him that whether or not the shirt wasn’t tucked in wasn’t the problem. The children who chose to disobey that rule were revealing the real issue, and the real issue was not that they were untucking their shirts, and the real issue wasn’t inherently that they were disobeying the school. The real issue was that they were choosing to disobey their God-given authority. That was the issue.
Is it a sin to not make your bed? No, actually it’s not. You can not make your bed to the glory of God. However, can you sin by not making your bed. Yes, you can. You can sin by not striving to live decently and orderly. You can sin by being lazy. You can sin by disobeying your authority who told you to make your bed.
We need to stop focusing on the superficial stuff that annoys us, and take our kids back to the fundamental roots of God’s perspective concerning their obedience.
C. In order for your children to be persuaded that they made the wrong choice, they need to understand why the biblically right choice was right.
This is the flip-side of the last point. No, it’s not that making your bed or tucking in your shirt is inherently righteous. They need to understand how God commands, expects, and explains a righteous, obedient life.
This is the reason that so many people used to believe the cleanliness was next to godliness. Their authorities had applied the biblical principles well; they realized that a person who wanted to please the Lord in the stewardship of their bodies, health, and testimonies saw the importance of being a cleanly individual. But the main motivation of glorifying God in all things was lost, and the next thing you know, if your finger nails aren’t clean, you’re in sin.
No, we need to teach our kids exactly how God is glorified when we eat our vegetables, clean our rooms, do our homework, speak sweetly to each other, and a million more examples. It’s not about the action; it needs to be about pleasing the Lord by submitting to the deeper truths about personal holiness.
D. In order for your children to be persuaded that they made the wrong choice, they need to understand the Primary Consequences of their wrong choice.
As we mentioned earlier, your kids need to be reminded repeatedly about the fact that every time they sin they hurt God, hurt others, and hurt themselves.
By the way, if this concept is new to you, please listen to the Consequences Series in order to better understand what I mean when I say, “Your sin hurts God.” It potentially doesn’t mean what you think it means.
Also, our kids need to learn that the Primary Consequences were designed by God to reprove us about our sin, but also teach us the most important truths we were ignoring when we chose to sin. The Primary Consequences aren’t punishments designed to pay someone back for what they did. They’re designed to teach and draw people to God whether that person is born again or not.
E. In order for your children to be persuaded that they made the wrong choice, they often need to experience Secondary Consequences for their wrong choice.
Now, first let me explain why I’ve been saying that children “often” need Secondary Consequences. Have their been times when I believed that my children didn’t need Secondary Consequences in order to learn the desperately important truths the Primary Consequences were designed to teach them? Yes. I praise the Lord that this has happened on a number of occasions. As my children have matured in their walk with the Lord, they have become more sensitive to the things of God, know Him better, and are quicker to acknowledge how they have sinned and respond accordingly.
That means that there is a level of subjectivity when it comes to giving Secondary Consequences. But that’s all part of the authority structure God has built into our lives.
I recommend you listen to our Authority Series to learn that God has given you, the parent, both Inherent Authority and Inherited Authority. Both of those forms of authority place on you the responsibility to wield that authority the way God would. That means that you have the responsibility to both decided when a Secondary Consequence is necessary and what the best Secondary Consequences should be.
Let’s talk about the when, and then we’ll talk about the what in the next point.
How do you know if your kids need Secondary Consequences? Here are a couple things to consider:
First, did they learn the main biblical lessons they needed to learn without the Secondary Consequence?
If they didn’t, then giving them a good Secondary Consequence can help point to and reinforce those lessons.
Second, how many times have they committed the same sin?
Yes, we do need to forgive our kids when they ask for it regardless of how many times they have committed the same sins in the same day. But the more often they commit the same sin, the clearer it is that they are not repenting as they should, and the more obvious it should be to us that they need more help. And so we should provide them Secondary Consequences that will help them in the process of repentance.
But what are the best Secondary Consequences?
F. In order for your children to be persuaded that they made the wrong choice, the Secondary Consequences need to reinforce and emphasize the biblical truths concerning God and their sin.
Listen, I’m not going to give you a list of possible consequences like spanking and grounding and confiscating and limiting and the like. That’s not the point. In the same way that I may glorify God or sin against Him by not making my bed, whether or not God is glorified when we give a consequence has little to do with the actual consequence itself.
Sure, there are some consequences that would be sinful no matter what, but the vast majority of tools in your arsenal could go either way. So, how do we make sure we’re glorifying God and persuasively reproving our children with the Secondary Consequences we give?
First, you have to give the consequences for the right reasons.
It’s not about you. You need to believe that the Secondary Consequences are necessary to please God and obediently parent your children.
Second, the Secondary Consequence needs to point back to the Primary Consequences.
If you walked up to a store that had a neon entrance sign in the window to the right of the entrance, but instead of walking through the door, you broke the window and climbed into the store right under the neon sign . . . you’re seriously misunderstanding the purpose of the sign.
In the same way, the Secondary Consequence is not the point . . . it’s designed to point to the point.
Allow me to illustrate: Let’s say your child refuses to make her bed because she thinks it’s stupid and unnecessary. Of course, it’s not the messy bed that is inherently the problem, it’s the direct disobedience. So, as a Secondary Consequence, you tell your daughter that for the next week, she’s not only responsible for making her own bed, she will also be making her brother’s bed (who—for the record—regularly obeys quickly, sweetly, and completely by making his bed).
Now, you’re not having her make two beds to punish her, and you’re not having her make two beds to reward your son. You’ve chosen that consequence because it’s designed to point back to the main issue—a refusal to glorify God by obeying dad and mom via bed-making.
Now, that’s not the only way to go about it. My imagination is absolutely flowing with other Secondary Consequences that could just as easily point to the main issue. But that’s not the point, and we don’t have the time.
However, we’re still missing the mark if we stop here.
That’s why, third, we need to communicate and re-communicate to our children the purpose of the Secondary Consequence.
No, your daughter is not going to automatically see the spiritual significance of having to make her brother’s bed. In fact, I can practically guarantee you that she will miss it. She’ll proclaim that it’s not fair to have to make two beds, it’s too hard, and he doesn’t deserve it, and his bed is gross, and a million other things betraying the fact that she doesn’t understand her sin.
This is why we need to sit her down and tie all of these ideas together as we reprove her. She needs to be reminded about Who God is as well as His expectations for obedience. She needs to see how her disobedience was a sin and how her obedience could have pleased the Lord. She needs to recognize that her sin hurt her relationship with God, hurt her relationship with you, and hurt her by making it easier for her to sin in the future. She needs to understand that simply making her bed isn’t good enough. She needs to do it quickly, sweetly, and completely, but—more importantly—she needs to do it because she desires to the please the Lord with her life.
And then we can tie the Secondary Consequence to the Primary Consequence by saying something like, “Sweetheart, we want you to make two beds this week because we want to give you as many opportunities as possible to learn the important lessons God has for you. He loves you, but you don’t love Him the way you should. Therefore, every time you make your bed and then go make your brother’s bed, you should be thinking about the fact that this is an opportunity for you to please the Lord by submitting to your parents and making the beds to the best of your ability so that God is glorified. In addition, this is also an opportunity for you to love and serve your brother. So, while you’re making his bed, that’s a good time to be asking the Lord to help you love your brother the way He loves your brother. And, by the way, just so you know, while you’re making your brother’s bed, he’ll be making your lunch for you—not because he did anything wrong, but because God wants him to love and serve you as well, and that’s a great way he can do that since you’re going to have less time in the morning to get ready for school.”
And—guess what—it will be a good and necessary to remind her of these truths, especially if she’s fighting to submit to them.
This is how we should be using consequences to reinforce the reproof which is designed to persuade our children to submit to God’s will for their lives.
Remember, We fail our children when we don’t teach them the biblical truths about consequences. We fail our children when we don’t give them any Secondary Consequences. And We fail our children when we don’t give them biblical Secondary Consequences.
That’s why we need to teach our kids that there is an authority who gets to decided what is wrong and right, we need to teach them the biblical truth behind why their choice was wrong, we need to help them understand why the biblically right choice was right, and we need help them understand the Primary Consequences of their wrong choices.
Then we will likely need to give them Secondary Consequences for their wrong choice, but not just any old consequences we need to give them Secondary Consequences that will reinforce and emphasize the biblical truths concerning God and their sin.
And that will require us to not just give them the consequences, but explain it and reinforce that teaching throughout.
Now, allow me to share with a couple more resources.
When you check out the Consequences Series, you will also see three other episodes listed there. One of them is called Spare the Rod | Punishment Versus Correction. That should help you continue understanding the fundamental differences between punishment and consequences.
You will also see an episode called Discipline that Softens the Heart. That will help you better appreciate different forms of discipline that have a different motivation behind them.
You will also see an episode called Immediate Consequences that unpacks the biblical importance of immediate consequences and what often happens when we don’t give them.