Do you struggle with establishing consistent discipline among your children? Perhaps, you attempt to correct them merely through an angry tone of voice. Proverbs reveals that discipline is much broader than we think. In his second pillar for a God-honoring, loving family, Solomon called young leaders to prioritize making disciples of their children: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death” (Proverbs 23:13-14).
Discipline and disciple share the same root word, meaning learner. Whether we are leading our children, our teams, or our employees in the marketplace, discipline is paramount. Discipline means that our job is to get ourselves out of a job. When we make disciples, we know we have achieved success when those we parent or coach are making disciples who are making disciples. The key to this multiplication is discipline. Solomon’s track of discipline has four turns: teach, train, test, and transform. Each turn must be navigated, or discipline will not make a full lap of wise conflict management, which will result in relational wreckage (see Proverbs 5:23).
Teach is defined as “I do. You watch.” We inspire, model, and explain wisdom to our children who retain it. Humility toward God is the first step of being teachable: “The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 15:33). Jesus continually taught His disciples.
Train can be stated as “I do. You help.” Training equips disciples with the tools to be successful, assimilating transferrable skills, one step at a time. Solomon revealed: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Jesus trained His disciples by bringing them alongside to help advance His Kingdom.
Test is translated as “You do. I help.” Solomon observed: “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart” (Proverbs 17:3; 27:21). God tests us in order to refine us. Jesus tested His disciples by giving them an opportunity to apply what they had learned.
Transform means that we correct the impurities that rise to the top during the testing process. This results in “You do. I watch.” We release our children to be adults who make disciples. Solomon noted correction is ineffective by using words alone: “A servant cannot be corrected by mere words; though he understands, he will not respond” (Proverbs 29:19). We correct through three strategies: positive reinforcement, offering a reward for the desired behavior; negative reinforcement, removing an existing benefit for behavior contrary to what is desired; and punishment, bringing consequences for repeated undesirable behavior (see Proverbs 23:13-14). Jesus transformed His disciples and then released them to build His Church.
When you teach, train, test, and transform disciples, you will not be the one doing so, rather it will be Christ in you.