For Christmas, my wife Sarah and I, were foolish enough to give our children a dog for Christmas. We are not known to be “pet” people. Years ago, we had been well versed in keeping goldfish. Goldfish were nice…they were easy to feed and easy to dispose of at the time of death…bawoosh…bye bye…all drains lead to the ocean…but other than that, we didn’t have any pets…we didn’t want any pets…now we have a pet…a dog. Our dog, Coda, is 4 years old and loves to sit on laps, get his belly rubbed…and bark and growl…only at me. He doesn’t like me. Every time I try to approach him to take him outside, pick him up, or put his leash on…he pees on me. Knowing these habits, I try to keep my distance. In fact, just this past Friday, as I was left home with Coda, I stood 10 feet away calling for him to come…so I could take him out to do his “business.” He continued to lie on the couch and stare at me…”come Coda”…stare…”come”…stare. I resorted to offering him dog treats…still no movement. I offered him cheese…nothing. I began to reach the cheese out to him, so it would be closer to him and farther from me. If his eyes weren’t blinking I would have thought he were dead. Not wanting to approach him and risk the piddle…I began tossing the cheese toward him like a cannon gunner attempting to pin point his target….closer and closer I got. Two hunks of cheese even bounced off his stable body and landed on the couch next to him. With cheese sitting next to his paws and body…I gave up and sat down…hoping that he would long for a belly rub and approach me. All I wanted was to be able to take him outside before he peed in the house. This went on for nearly an hour, until Sarah arrived home, at which point…Coda saw Sarah…hopped to his feet and ate every piece of cheese and dog treat scattered around the living room…he then ran over to Sarah to greet her…then came to jump on my lap for a belly rub….”What’s the deal with that!?”
Training a dog isn’t always easy. Neither is training children. We have 4 children between the ages of 6 and 12, (almost 13), that’s important to note because teenagers know everything…just ask them. Training takes discipline. It takes discipline for both the parent and the child. Jay Robinson, the former head coach of the Minnesota Gophers Wrestling team, and 1972 Olympian, states, “Discipline is doing what you don’t want to do, when you don’t want to do it.” Yep…sounds like parenting…sounds like my childhood. I remember my dad saying just as his hand was about to smack my bottom…”This is going to hurt me, more than it’s going to hurt you”…”yeah…ummm…I don’t thinks so...is your hand more sensitive than my tender backside?...I think not…”
Discipline is uncomfortable. When we are disciplined enough to follow through with our new year’s resolutions, we find ourselves with sore muscles from our new exercise regimens, growling stomachs from our new diet restrictions and painful waistlines from trying to force our belts tighter than they ought to be in attempt to rush the results. Yet, discipline is critical in our lives. It takes great discipline to live a healthy lifestyle. Likewise, it takes great discipline to be a parent. It takes great discipline to honor our fathers and mothers, and to respect and honor the authorities in our lives. It takes great discipline to care for those in our lives who work for or serve us.
Discipline doesn’t start and stop with mankind. It starts and stops with God. He disciplines us…to train us…and mold us to obey him…to become more like him…to become who he has created us to be. His discipline is likewise uncomfortable. In Ephesians 6:1-9, Paul gives us this picture of God calling children to obey their parents, parents to discipline their children and care for them, servants and masters to treat each other with great respect. We are called to all of these things…so that we may display the Gospel of Christ. So that our lives will point to Jesus when we honor our parents and that as parents, we can point to Christ as we discipline our children in a God honoring way. Jesus can be glorified when workers honor their supervisors, and His Gospel moves forward when bosses treat their employees with dignity.