Tag Archives: discipline

My Two Cents’ Worth

Sunday and Monday, I was pounding the pavement, rocking my almost-three miles each day, getting the heart pumping happily.  Both days as I walked, I found two pennies on the street.  Finding these on Sunday was remarkable, but I shrugged it off:  I’ve been walking those streets 3-4 days a week since October and had never found money before.  Finding these coins two days in a row, though, seemed to be a sign that needed attention.

As I walked Monday, those two pennies clinking softly in the pocket of my running pants, I thought about two cents.  What good, of what value, is a mere two cents?  It depends on your frame of mind, I guess.

To a millionaire, a couple of cents would be dispensable.  What’s two cents out of hundreds of millions?  To most of us, we can take them or leave them.  Maybe we wouldn’t want to touch dirty pennies.  Or, if you’re like me, you toss them in a jar until you have enough to roll – or save them to use as math manipulatives.

English: Large amount of pennies

English: Large amount of pennies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For one woman in the Bible, though, two cents was absolutely everything she had.  Mark relates the story of Jesus and his disciples standing in the narthex of the Temple, watching people placing their tithes and offerings in the offering box.  Most placed their ten percent, the Pharisees making a production of such.  One poor woman put in a whopping two mites – two small coins, probably worth a cent each.  What are those worth compared to the tithe of a rich person?  Jesus commended her offering to his disciples, for she had put in far more than anyone else; she had put in everything she had.

Those two cents made me remember, we need to give everything we have.  Some have the sheer faith literally to turn over everything they have to the Lord and trust God for all their provisions.  Others (I fall into this camp) recognize their blessedness in all they have, however much it is, and strive to honor God in how they use and treat it.  In doing this, I have come to see the blessings even in the clutter (God did give me those children who make it), but I have also taken it as a discipline to put the stuff in its proper perspective.

Our church has been doing a study the past few weeks on living generously, and we spent an easy two weeks talking about how we can live more generously if we don’t think we always need more.  I pretty much mentally checked out of the study at that point, because I don’t want more, I don’t need more, and I don’t think I need more.  In fact, we are steadily getting rid of stuff, putting perfectly good furniture we were storing at the curb for others to take and selling and donating clothes (with monies going towards the girls’ soccer this season).

We also need to dedicate our work and play to the Lord.  We need to play in a way that points people to the Lord, and how we go about our work needs to be a witness to God.  This means working with integrity and not trying to get by with less-than-responsible behavior.  It means not trying to get by with stuff.  My older daughter and I discussed how I could do something and no one would ever know.  I could get by with it, technically it wouldn’t harm anyone, but it still wouldn’t be right.  Integrity – doing the right thing even when no one is watching.

In our play, we also need to give all we have to God.  This manifests itself in good sportsmanlike conduct in team sports, discipline in practice, and, for those of us crazy fortunate enough to coach, modeling the right behaviors.  Coaching soccer is like ministry to me, and I am constantly aware of how I can show the love of God to my players, both on and off the field.  Giving our play to God also shows up in how we treat others, even in our casual pick-up games.

As you go through your days, give you all to God.  Our offering is more than just 10% of our paychecks; it’s time, talents, and gifts – all which come from God and all which we can use to glorify him and lift others up.  As for those four pennies…?  They’re going in the offering plate.  I’m trying not to denigrate them as “just four cents.”  I’m going to trust God will multiply them as the Lord has done before, and those four pennies will end up being far, far more valuable than four cents.

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Discipline is Hard!

Discipline isn’t easy, because discipline done correctly leads to teaching subordinates of some sort (i.e., children) how to do things correctly or better.  I don’t care for the definition that aligns discipline with training using punishment as a consequence of misbehavior.  To me, discipline requires patient teaching with the end goal of the recipient of the discipline growing and learning something new.  There are consequences of not following the teaching, but it’s important to be clear about these from the beginning.  That way, they are the consequences of choices, not knee-jerk punishments.

Given that discipline requires patience, consistency, and love, then it follows that disciplining someone is a fairly challenging task.  As parents in particular, we risk dealing with push-back from children, the pouting, the drama, the pain on both parts.  Well, we generally know that the pain of discipline usually rests solely on the shoulders of the parents (“This will hurt me more than it will you.”), but children will convince us that they’re mortally wounded because we want them to play outside instead of playing video games, or we’d rather they read than watch TV.

Some other ways we discipline our children is by setting appropriate boundaries on their behavior.  This has to be immediate; otherwise, they’re just not going to get it.  “That doesn’t go in your mouth!”  <whispered> “No, you’re not ready for Communion, yet.”  “You need to hang your wet towel up, because if you don’t, the cat will pee on it.”  We know that these are simple boundaries that will have lasting consequences; they lessen the risk of putting bad stuff in their mouths, they’ll wait and go through the spiritual growth necessary before taking Communion, and they’ll learn to hang their stuff up (we hope).

But, heavens, doesn’t it seem to go on forever?!?!  “Don’t leave your colored pencils strewn across the living room floor.”  And didn’t I just tell her that 37 minutes ago for the eleventh time today, and it’s not even lunchtime, yet?  Wouldn’t you think she’d learn after doing it so many times that it’d be habit?  But, no.  Consistency, but then comes consequences.  “Daddy, you broke my pencil when you stepped on it!”  “Well, sweetie, would Daddy have been able to step on it had you picked it up and put it away when you were done?”  Damn Mommy logic!

Discipline means risking the anger and tears.  I have a friend who suffers a lot of unnecessary headache because he doesn’t want to deal with the anger from disciplining his daughter.  He just doesn’t “want to get into it with her.”  She is learning she can get by with a lot that doesn’t seem to bother her but that only irritates her dad.  My eldest can dish her own anger and attempts at manipulation.  Just today, she was reading something and asked, “What does ‘venerable’ mean?”  I replied, “Find the dictionary and look it up.”  “But it’s the first day back to school!  It’d be nicer if you’d just tell me what it means.”  Sure, I could’ve done that, avoided the drama, and she’d remember the definition until…  Oh, right around lunchtime.  If I’m lucky.  I grinned and said, “No, I’m not spoon feeding that to you.”  She huffed and dramatically flung herself out of the chair and strutted into the office, slamming the door behind her.  Ahhh…  Tween drama.

What is so hard about teaching children how to behave correctly and guiding them as they learn what it will take to grow into responsible, productive, happy adults?  Oh yeah.  It’s work.  Hard work.  Seemingly never ending work.  Work with no time clock, no paycheck, and certainly no vacation or sick leave.  But the results are invaluable.  Just the other night, my eldest told me all the way home and through dinner and after dinner about the opportunities she has this summer to break out of her comfort zone and do something different and independent and for others.  Two of these somethings cost money, but she didn’t even think to come to us to ask for the money.  (OK, so she’s having to ask for the deposits.)  She immediately started coming up with a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timeable) plan for earning the money.  She’s driven and excited, and these events will mean even more to her, because she’s working for them.  Our work is far from done, but we can and will enjoy the small reward.