Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 2 Peter 1:5-7
Make every effort, not a half-hearted attempt, to supplement your faith! I love supplements. I used to feel terrible until the doctor figured out I needed a supplement. You see, I was living without the vitamins my body needed, but I was not living well. In fact I had lived with so much stress, for so long, that I needed nutritional supplements to restore my health. So what should our spiritual supplements be? Peter tells us:
Start with passing on our faith – making sure children have their own. Live out our faith. Kids can sniff out a hypocrite. Do our actions match our words? Do we have something our kids want in the first place?
Then comes virtue – good character. Notice that we don’t teach good character and therefore our children are Christians. That works based. That’s legalism and that is what Jesus condemned the Pharisees for. That is backwards. The good character comes as a result of imitating Jesus, the Son of God.
The next thing we add to the supplements is self-control. Do you ask your tween to get off her screen device? They ask why? You ask your preschooler not to interrupt. “Why?” “Why can’t I have the candy? Or why can’t I spend the night at the (poorly supervised) friend’s house?” Comfort food. Road rage. substances, trashy movies and novels, cheating just a little, cutting corners, skimming a little money off the top, not bothering to listen or pay attention, laziness at work – The root of the issue is a lack of self-control.
I love what Meaningful Mama says: “As we try and navigate raising our kids in a world that glorifies and abuses freedom and rebellion, we need to teach them what real freedom means. We do have the choice to sin or obey, but we need to teach about the freedom that comes as we submit to God’s ways. He sets his ideals for self-control so as it make our lives better. It doesn’t mean a perfect and easy life by any means, but it does mean that we can break free from the bondage of sin, guilt and natural consequences when self control is not in play.”
The opposite of self-control is self-indulgence, not pleasure. God is not against pleasure. He created it. He called it good. It is our sin nature that has internally disordered us. Our good, normal, healthy passions are out of order ever since the fall of man. We love the creation more than the creator. We love food, sex, entertainment and leisure more the God whose ideas they were in the first place. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, this is the first and greatest commandment.
The Bible says, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Prov 25:28.
Lack of self-control leaves us defenseless. Why would we leave our children defenseless? So what are some practical ways to develop self-control in our kids?
For little ones: Try planting seeds, do puzzles, ones a little more challenging than they are used to, but do it with them. Don’t let your children interrupt you for non-essential things. They must learn to wait.
Ask your teens what bad parenting looks like. She knows what it looks like because she knows her own weaknesses. Self-awareness is the beginning of self-control. It’s a great question to awaken self-awareness in them. Build those defenses with self-control!
Books about self-control: Miss Nelson is Missing
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse
My Mouth is a Volcano
Ask kids to find the self-control themes when they are watching these movies:
Kung Fu Panda
Wreck It Ralph
Anne of Green Gables
The Karate Kid
Self-control games can be found at parentingscience.com/teaching-self-control
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