Discipline and Reproof
About the Guest
As a young man raised by a single mother, Voddie knew what it was like to push the boundaries. That's why his mother sent him to live with an uncle that would provide clear boundaries and firm discipline. Pastor Voddie Baucham talks about a man's shepherding role as it relates to discipline. Discipline, he notes, is what we do to instruct our children and teach them, rather than just punishing them for wrongdoing.
As a young man raised by a single mother, Voddie knew what it was like to push the boundaries.
Discipline and Reproof
Bob: Voddie Baucham says fathers need to recognize that before they ever get involved in doing corrective discipline with their children, they need to first be involved with formative discipline.
Voddie: Formative discipline—that’s those things that we do to instruct our children—to teach our children. That’s one that we often miss. We don’t take the time to disciple our children. Again, disciple and discipline—they come from the same root word. We don’t take the time for formative discipline and all we do is just sort of jump all over them when they do things wrong. That’s not the way that the Bible calls us to raise our children.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, June 6th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Voddie Baucham joins us today to give us a refresher course on effective discipline for dads. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We’re talking this week about family shepherds—dads being the shepherds of their families. I’ve been thinking about that familiar psalm about a shepherd: “The Lord is my shepherd,” and all of the things that a shepherd does in terms of leading you beside still waters, where you can get a drink, and taking you to “the green pastures”, where you can be fed, and then about getting out the rod and the staff, when that’s needed. [Laughter]
Dennis: No doubt.
Bob: And comforting with the rod and the staff; you know?
Dennis: Sure; sure.
Bob: There really is a lot of imagery there for us, as dads, in terms of what our responsibilities are.
Dennis: Yes, and I want to take a moment, here at the beginning of the broadcast, to talk to the single-parent moms who are listening to these broadcasts and going, “What’s the hope for me because we don’t have a dad who is a family shepherd of our home?”
The reason I want our guest to speak about this is because he grew up in a single-parent family. Voddie Baucham joins us again on FamilyLife Today. Voddie, welcome back.
Voddie: Thank you; thank you. It’s good to be back.
Dennis: Voddie is a pastor, an author of a number of books, and a father of seven. How many are adopted, again?
Dennis: Five adopted. He’s got a huge heart for adoption. He has written a book called Family Shepherds. It is subtitled: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes.
Bob: Did growing up without a family shepherd in your home—is that one of the things that led you to have a desire for this?
Voddie: It’s one of the things that started that trajectory for me; yes, absolutely.
Bob: So what did your mom do? I mean, she didn’t have anybody to lean into to help her little boy—who grew up to be a pretty big body [Laughter]—get pointed in the right direction?
Voddie: My mother is all of five foot four.
Dennis: Since radio is radio—[Laughter]
Bob: You’re all of six foot what? Six foot five?
Voddie: I’m all of six foot three–plus. Yes.
Bob: Six foot three; should we go ahead and give how much you can bench, too?
Voddie: No. I don’t want to scare people. [Laughter]
Dennis: Voddie; Voddie, you already do scare people, buddy. [Laughter]
Bob: So here’s your little mom and her big son—
Voddie: Yes; yes.
Bob: How did she keep you in line? How did she shepherd you?
Voddie: Well, my mother was a terror. I was more afraid of my mother than anybody that I knew. You know that line from Bill Cosby, “I brought you into this world; I can take you out!”? [Laughter] I so believed my mother when she said that to me. I believe that she loved me with every fiber of my being; and that if push came to shove, and she had to do it, she’d take me out and bury me in the backyard! [Laughter]
But my mother was not a believer. She was a practicing Buddhist, but my mother was absolutely committed to her son. She pulled double-duty, like a lot of women have to do. You mentioned earlier that issue of addressing single mothers, and so on, and so forth. There’s an appendix at the end of this book. Again, the book is about equipping fathers to lead their homes. I just can’t—I just can’t—write this book without at least speaking to that issue of single mothers, even though that’s not the direction of the book.
Three things: One is I always want to remind people that God is able. My presence here is just a testimony to that fact. God is able. God is bigger than fatherlessness. He is a Father to the fatherless. The second thing is—back to what we’ve talked about—the idea of Titus 1 and Titus 2—that three-pronged approach—that we have godly mature men and women in the church, godly manly elders in the church, and then biblically- functioning homes. I think single mothers need to recognize that God has not left them alone. There are godly, mature father figures, if you will, in the church—both pastoral and godly mature men in the church. I think that’s extremely important.
Another thing—that I talk about in the appendix, actually—is the importance of that network that a single mom has and the network, in her family, that she has. My mother got that. My mother had a big brother. Again, when I got old enough to find a little trouble in L.A., we got on a Greyhound bus for about three days and went from Los Angeles to Buford, South Carolina, where I lived for a little over a year with her oldest brother, who was a retired drill instructor in the Marine Corps—who had done two and a half tours in Vietnam—
Dennis: She pulled you out of the bad company that corrupts good morals?
Voddie: Yes. Yes, from bad company to a “bad” man! [Laughter] And I got out of trouble. Again, that was my mother, as a single mother, looking at her son and saying, “He needs something. Where do I have a resource? Where is there a man?” She found her brother. I encourage single moms to look around them. Single moms know this.
Voddie: They know that they have to find those other resources and lean on those other resources. I said three things, but I’ll go ahead and give you four. The fourth one is for single moms not to be discouraged and lose hope. There’s a tendency for single moms always to focus on what they don’t have and what they can’t give. You know what? There was one family and one family only who was ever a non-dysfunctional family (excuse the double negative). That was Adam and Eve, and they invented “dysfunction.” Everybody—everybody, everybody, everybody—is raised in an imperfect, dysfunctional home.
Dennis: What I want to do is something that is easy for me to do—and you may say, “No, we can’t do that, Dennis.” I want to give single moms a copy of that last chapter in your book. I want to make it available, online, if we can get permission from you and the publisher. Would you agree to do that? To put it so they can access it and read that last chapter to provide some hope? I think, today—you think of any group of people who needs hope and encouragement—it’s that group.
Voddie: Bob, did he just put me on the spot and ask me if I’m willing to give something to single mothers? [Laughter]
Bob: Yes; so what are you going to say?
Voddie: I’m just checking. I’m just checking to see if that happened.
Bob: That happened!
Dennis: Alright! [Laughter] And Keith is looking out there, as an engineer, going, “There, he did it again. Dennis and Bob have found a fresh way to offend their guest.”
Bob: I’ve got to ask you about Family Shepherds and the rod and the staff. You’ve got the shepherd’s crook on the front of the book. Talk about the shepherding role as it applies to discipline in the home. What’s dad’s job when it comes to being the disciplinarian, and how does that fit into the whole picture of shepherding?
Voddie: Well, in that section of the book, I make sure to talk about—there are three chapters in that section. One section goes back to the Gospel and our understanding of the nature and extent of the Fall. We’ve got to understand what our children’s real problem is. Your child’s problem is not that they have a bad environment. It’s not that they have bad examples. It’s not that they have—your child’s problem is a sin problem; okay?!
Voddie: God created a pristine man, and a perfect environment, with perfect surroundings, and that man fell into sin; okay?
Voddie: It’s an internal issue. So, we have to understand the nature and extent of the Fall.
Bob: Let me just interrupt you here because you may have one child who is very compliant and another child who is a strong-willed, push-back kid. You’re saying both of them have the same sin problem?
Voddie: Both of them have the same sin problem.
Bob: Even though they have different temperaments and personalities?
Voddie: Yes, yes. And worry about the compliant one because the compliant one oftentimes doesn’t get enough attention and formative discipline—or corrective discipline—because they’re compliant and make your life easier.
We talk about the nature of the Fall, and then we talk about formative discipline—formative discipline—that’s those things that we do to instruct our children—to teach our children. That’s one that we often miss. We don’t take the time to disciple our children. Again, “disciple” and “discipline”—they come from the same root word. We don’t take the time for formative discipline and all we do is just sort of jump all over them when they do things wrong. That’s not the way that the Bible calls us to raise our children— “bring them up in the instruction and discipline of the Lord.”
Then, I talk about corrective discipline and the ways that we correct our children when we come up against that rebellion to the formative discipline. All of those things have to be kept in balance for a shepherd to shepherd in that regard.
Bob: You know, when our kids were little, one of the things that we used to do—and we didn’t do this all of the time—but I remember doing it. It was kind of a fun thing to do. We would play a little game where my two-year-old or three-year-old would be over playing with his things. I would say, “Let’s play the obey game. I’m going to say, ‘Jimmy, come here.’ I said, ‘The first time, you just ignore me, okay? Then, the second time, you say, ‘Okay, Daddy,’ and you come running; okay?’”
We’d play the game. “Jimmy, come here” and he’d just keep playing. He would smile because he was playing the game; right? I would say, “Oh, Jimmy, no, you need to come here.” The second time he would say, “Okay, Daddy!” He would jump up and come running. “Yeah! Jimmy obeyed! Way to go, son!” I’d give him a big hug. “Do you want to play it again?” “Yes, I want to play it again!” That’s formative discipline; isn’t it?
Voddie: Yes, it is. It is.
Bob: You’re just instructing them, at a very simple age, on, “Here’s how you ought to respond.”
Bob: You make a game out of it. They like playing, but it’s teaching them an important lesson.
Voddie: You know, we understand this in every other area of our children’s lives, but not in that area. We wouldn’t run out in the backyard with our son and say, “Okay, son, throw me a curve ball.”
Dennis: Yes, exactly!
Voddie: We just wouldn’t do that; but when it comes to them learning how to obey and do the things that we require of them, we just treat them like they’re supposed to know it automatically. When the fact is—when you understand the nature and extent of the Fall, the opposite is true. What’s automatic is their rebellion.
Dennis: Most of us are better at teaching our kids how to throw a curve ball, a knuckle ball, a change-up, etc., than at addressing the needs of their soul. You quote a Puritan author by the name of Cotton Mather who said this, “Do you not know that your children have precious and immortal souls within them? They are not all flesh. You who are the parents of their flesh must know that your children have spirits also.” Our children are immortal beings.
Dennis: They’re going to last for eternity—somewhere.
Dennis: So as we give birth to them and bring these immortal beings onto the planet, they must be guided.
Voddie: They must be.
Dennis: That’s what formative discipline is all about. If I asked you for a snapshot of when Voddie Baucham stepped up to the plate in his family of seven children—this could have been last week, it could have been last year, it could have been ten years ago—you’ve got seven kids. You had a moment when you just felt the pleasure of God—you said, “You know what? I did it. I had some formative discipline of my kids, right there.” What snapshot would you pull up?
Voddie: Here’s the snapshot I pull up. I pull up one of my children, whose name I won’t mention.
Bob: Protect the guilty.
Dennis: We’ve had several of those children on our broadcast here.
Voddie: Yes. [Laughter] Young boy—he’s one of our youngest—one of our younger children—so, he’s under seven. He comes in, and he’s done something he’s not supposed to do. That happens so frequently in my home that I don’t remember which thing it was.
He comes in and he’s about to be disciplined—there’s about to be some corrective discipline applied—the rod of education to the seat of understanding. I look at him and ask him, “Do you understand what you did and why what you did was wrong?” “Yes, sir.” “Can you explain that to me?” “Yes, sir.” “Well, what happened?” “I’m just a sinner, and I just need to be saved!” [Laughter] I just looked at him and I said, “You’re okay.”
Dennis: Did you bust out in a smile at that point?
Voddie: You know what—not while he was looking! [Laughter]
Dennis: I know exactly what you’re talking about. There have been those moments with our kids when you bite your lip. You have to look away!
Voddie: Yes, yes. “I’m just a rotten sinner and I need to be saved.” Well, yes, there you have it!
Dennis: He got it!
Dennis: He got it! Let’s talk about the other side of discipline, though, the corrective side.
Bob: Because there are times that “the board of education” gets used?
Voddie: Yes. Oh, yes! Sometimes we feel like that’s all that is happening with seven kids around the house. Absolutely. We have to understand that that’s not where we start. It’s not our only tool. When you don’t have formative discipline and when you believe that spanking your children is your only tool, what is the old proverb? “To the man whose only tool is a hammer, everything appears to be a nail.”
Voddie: So if you feel like the only tool that you have is spanking your children, then there’s no formative discipline that happens—it’s all corrective. That does a couple of things. One of the things it does, though, is it causes the corrective discipline to lose its significance in that child’s mind because it’s the only thing that ever happens. It’s not something that signifies a certain level of rebellion for the child.
Bob: So what else do you do if it’s not all spanking? What else is it?
Voddie: Well, you’ve got the formative discipline; but you also have, for example, reproof. There are times when you reprove your children.
Bob: What does that look like?
Voddie: Your children are doing something and basically you identify the sin that is being committed—
Voddie: —and you point them to what the Bible says about that sin. You are offering a word of warning from God’s Word. “Here is what the Bible says about that sin and here’s what the Bible says you can expect when you are following along in that vein.” So there is that reproof that allows our children to see the weightiness of their sin and calls them to correction that way.
Dennis: One of the things I did for Barbara—again, practically speaking. When you’re in the moment, you don’t always think clearly as what you’re articulating right now, Voddie. I mean, you admitted that in an earlier broadcast.
Voddie: Yes, yes.
Dennis: You got ticked off at your kids, and you were in need of reading James 4.
Dennis: You know, as we all are. I took a 3x5 card with Barbara. I sat down and I listed what are our alternatives when it comes to corrective discipline of our kids—and the consequences. What I would do is just take what you’re talking about here and just write them out: “Reproof”—and pointing out the ultimate culprit in the problem that you’re facing. Then, make a list of options, other than corporal punishment, as a way to discipline your child.
Bob: I’m just curious, if you come in the back door and your wife says to you, “You need to have a word with your son. Let me tell you what he did this afternoon.” She tells you and now you have to go sit down—it’s been a couple of hours since he did it. Just walk me through what’s going to happen when you go into his room, where he’s been banished because of his behavior. [Laughter] Now, you show up. What are you going to do?
Voddie: Well, again, usually what we’re talking about in that instance—we’re not doing a banishment there—but it may be a time where I have to come in with the child and the child has to debrief. The child has to tell me what happened. What I want is—I want the child to explain to me what happened; but then, I want to see if the child can take it a step further, based on their formative discipline and explain to me why it’s happened.
Can you get that? We don’t want to just deal with the fruit; we want to deal with the root. If they can, praise God! If they can’t, then we sort of help them get to the root of why it happened. Then we talk to them about the consequences of their behavior. We talk to them about my responsibility as their parent. We talk to them about the rod of correction and why God has given the rod of correction to us as parents. Then, we apply the rod of correction—the child is spanked.
After the child is spanked—you know, there are the weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth—but not in a rebellious sense—because you can even rebel in the way you cry after your spanking or whatever.
Dennis: Oh, yes they do!
Voddie: Yes. Then, there’s a debrief about what just happened. There’s a reaffirmation of the love that we have for one another. There’s reconciliation, and hugging, and kissing, and loving. We get ourselves together, and we go back out. Justice has been served, and joy reigns!
Dennis: I’m listening to you tell these stories, and I’m thinking about how smart I became by the end. How I wished I’d had this training early on. I know that’s why you wrote this book. You wrote the book to come alongside guys at the beginning as they’re starting this journey of being a father—of being a shepherd to their family—
Dennis: —to equip them where they are. There was a moment that was kind of—not a wakeup call because you were already awake—but there was a moment that was an “a-ha” moment. We all have them. The Holy Spirit uses something from an unusual source to kind of go, “Did you get that?” It had to do with listening to a speech—a retirement speech—by one of the President’s men.
Voddie: Yes. Colin Powell. I remember when Colin Powell was finally resigning. Again, it’s the end of an administration; and it happens. I was just always a Colin Powell fan. I was a fan of his story. As a young, black man, seeing Colin Powell do what he did—the impact that my uncle had on me—that Marine. There were a lot of things that just drew me to Colin Powell and to his story.
I remember when he resigned from the administration. What struck me was that he stood there—I guess he was in his mid 60’s. He said that he was leaving to spend time with his family. I was sitting there thinking to myself, “You missed that. Your family is grown and gone. Now, after your family is grown and gone, you’re going to walk away to spend time with your family? Actually, now’s the time, when your family’s grown and gone, when you can devote yourself fully—you can devote yourself double-time—to whatever the thing is that you want to do.”
It just dawned on me. I thought to myself, as a man—at that point, 35 years old—“Lord, please, by Your grace, do not let me spend all of my time, effort, and energy here and now, while my children are at home, building something outside of my family; and then after they’re all grown and gone, stepping away and actually making room—when I’ve missed it.”
Voddie: Again, it’s not a knock on Colin Powell. I don’t know his family life. I don’t know it; but I know that in that moment, that’s what struck me because there are so many guys who do that. When they had an opportunity, they didn’t make the investment.
Dennis: Well, Voddie, you’ve made the investment, not only in your own family, but in the families of your church. You’ve gone beyond that to come on our broadcast numerous times through your books, and through your preaching and teaching, and equip a generation of young men to be those kind of men—those kind of dads. I just appreciate you and look forward to having you back on the broadcast again soon.
Voddie: Thank you. As always, thank you very much.
Bob: Well, we need to say, “Thank you,” to you, as well, for the part that you are playing in the Stepping Up video series that we are putting together. In fact, Voddie is in the series, along with Matt Chandler, and Mark Driscoll, and James MacDonald, Crawford Loritts, Stu Weber, Robert Lewis. Dennis, of course, is in there.
This video series is going to be available in August, and we’re kicking it off with a National Men’s Simulcast on Saturday, August 4th. Already, churches are signing up to host this event. It’s kind of a kickoff event for men as we get near the fall. It’s a four- hour Saturday simulcast that has James MacDonald, Crawford Loritts, Robert Lewis, and Dennis Rainey, all speaking. It’s live from Chicago and then distributed via simulcast to churches all around the country.
If you are interested in more information about the simulcast or about the video series that is coming out this fall, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link you find there to the Stepping Up series. Of course, we’ve got information about Voddie’s book, Family Shepherds, available online, as well. You can order from us at FamilyLifeToday.com. Again, the book is called Family Shepherds by Voddie Baucham. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order a copy; 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”.
And this month, we are saying, “Thank you,” to those of you who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today by making available a copy of Dennis’ book, Stepping Up as a thank-you gift for your financial support. FamilyLife Today is listener-supported. The cost associated with producing and then syndicating this radio program is substantial. Those of you who help support the ministry help make all of that possible.
You keep this program on this station and on our network of stations, all around the country. Of course, you keep us online at FamilyLifeToday.com, as well. So, when you make a donation this month—you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link that says, “I CARE”, we’ll send you a copy of Dennis’ book, Stepping Up. Or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY and make a donation over the phone. When you do that, just ask to receive your copy of the book, Stepping Up. Again, we’re happy to send it to you. We appreciate your standing with us and supporting this ministry. It’s great to have you as a partner in what God is doing through the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
Now, tomorrow, we want to encourage you to be back with us. Mark Merrill is going to join us. We’re going to talk about what dads can do to be All Pro Dads. He heads an organization by that name and has just written a new book called All Pro Dad. We’ll talk about it tomorrow. Hope you can join us.
I want to thank our engineer today—his name is Keith Lynch—and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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