A friend of mine tells a story on himself that I have to share with you. I won’t include any names in order to protect the innocent (and guilty). I’m just glad every once in a while I get to use someone else as an example instead of always having to use me.
Anyway, this good brother had taught his children not to take the Lord’s name in vain…ever. He had even taught against the popular euphemisms for the Lord’s name. He wanted his family to always accord the Lord the very highest respect.
How embarrassed and shocked he was when at a picnic he heard his young son hollering almost at the top of his lungs, “Oh my God!” The crime had been committed. The witnesses were everywhere. Punishment must be administered. He yanked up his son and paddled him on the spot. A moment later his wife approached and said, “Hon, he was singing the new song I taught him. You know the part that says ‘Oh my God, I trust in thee.'” As my friend shared the story, I could tell, he still felt small for that one. I felt small for him. I uttered a little prayer of thanksgiving that I’m not the only dad who blows it sometimes.
But the reason God let’s us make mistakes is to learn from them. Certainly, we dads have every responsibility to discipline our children. A good time to practice discipline is when God is disrespected. However, the extreme nature of this story demonstrates a point we need always remember. Even when it seems obvious that our children have done something wrong, we need to get the facts first. Even when it seems absolutely clear our children have violated the rules and crossed the boundaries, we need to press the pause button, calm down, and find out the complete story.
We must not react out of embarrassment, anger, wrath, pride, or any other emotion that prompts hasty discipline. If after investigation, we learn our children have indeed crossed the boundary, then we should discipline them for their good (Hebrews 12:9-10). It will still have its value. Discipline doesn’t have to be absolutely immediate for it to be effective. We can take time to investigate and make sure the discipline is warranted.
When we press the pause button, we will certainly avoid unnecessary guilt for messing up. Fortunately, our children are resilient and forgiving. When we apologize and ask for forgiveness, they are usually quick to give it. But, it certainly makes us feel better if we get a handle on the situation first.