Discipline: A Set of Behaviors

405334_10151095717959640_1793867185_nThe Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church is “…the instrument for setting forth the laws, plan, polity, and process by which United Methodists govern themselves…” Discipline is “to train by instruction and exercise”, and we owe it to our children to offer them a little instruction book of their own. We are their instruction book!

Children may come to us with an innate sense of who God is, but we are blessed (or tasked) with the responsibility of being living, breathing examples of how they develop spiritually, emotionally, cognitively, and ethically. Children are surrounded by influencers that will form them, so if we want to live into our responsibility, then we must be present with them…truly present.

We can help our children develop a set of behaviors the will help them live into the amazing people God created them to be. A few tips:

  • Model Holy Living
  • Set expectations
  • Set healthy boundaries
  • When talking with children, use body language > get on their level, smile, nod, engage
  • Listen attentively to children > ask them the who-what-when-where, and then LISTEN for understanding
  • Offer empathy
  • Help children reframe a negative situation
  • Respond to the needs of children



Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

The 5 Love Languages of Children

Let There Be Peace in the Classroom

Keeping the Peace in the Preschool Classroom

Boundless Grace

Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day

Children’s Defense Fund

Classroom Covenant


Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition

jwmonogram What do our children understand about covenant? About surrender? About sacrifice? What can they understand about living into who we are called to be as children of God? The Covenant Renewal Service, created by John Wesley in 1755 may seem a bit unapproachable for children. So how might we help children relate to self-examination, confession, and discipleship?

I would begin by engaging children in a conversation on what brought them the most joy in the past year (understanding that they will likely focus on what things that just happened). Ask them if there is something that they did that they might do differently next time. Talk to them about what it means to be a disciple. Read the Covenant Prayer to them, and then offer a few “I wonder” questions.

I wonder what it means to belong to God?
I wonder why it is important to sometimes be full and sometimes be empty?
I wonder what it means to have all things and to have nothing?

Expect to hear many different responses, but the goal here is to help children discern what discipleship means based on their knowledge and experiences. Their responses may help you plan future lessons on discipleship.

Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put met to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by you or laid aside for you,
exalted for you or brought low for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
you are mine, and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.


Read more about Covenant Renewal





“Christmas is Waiting to be Born” reblog from Rev. Dr. Luther Smith

The Pan-Methodist Campaign for Children in Poverty of the The Pan-Methodist Commission recognizes how difficult it is for congregations to develop specific ideas about how to care for children in poverty. They work tirelessly to serve children and families who are in need. This re-blog from Campaign Director, Luther Smith, asks some tough questions of all of us during this season of Advent.

Luther E. Smith, Jr. - Pan-Methosit Campaign for Children in Poverty

Luther E. Smith, Jr. – Pan-Methodist Campaign for Children in Poverty

“This is the title of a Howard Thurman meditation that appears in many church bulletins during the Advent and Christmas seasons. Not only is this an expression of anticipation, it also declares the immediacy of God coming anew into creation.

Are you excited about God’s coming? Are you looking to the heavens and listening to wise persons for signs? Are you prepared to give your life to the insights, commitment, and transformations that come from God being with us . . . again?

We answer these questions in the way we live the moments and years of our lives. No amount of verbal affirmation about our devotion serves as a substitute for our actions. Excuses for inaction are not acceptable. The fact that God comes into our lives either does or does not make a difference to us.

This season is a fitting time to assess whether our hearts truly desire for God to be in our midst. What “hopes and fears of all the years” are we prepared to meet? How will tomorrow be lived with a deeper conviction and gratitude for God’s presence with us? How will our joy be sung through loving relationships with all God’s people? These questions we answer with the way we live the moments and years of our lives.

A child is waiting to be born. Parents seek shelter. Hostile realities await the child and the parents . . . and hostile realities have already overtaken children and parents who live among us. We have new opportunities to receive and to care for these sacred lives—opportunities to advocate for pre-natal care, housing, nutrition, healthcare, and education. We have new opportunities to extend hospitality to immigrants and refugees. We have new opportunities to give birth to Christmas that is waiting to be born in us.”