Saturday, February 16, 2013

Love & Logic Revisited

My school staff is going to attend a seminar entitled "Love and Logic for Educators."  When I asked about attending, although I am only a substitute, the school counselor said, "You already know and apply the principles that will be taught. You are one of very few teachers I have witnessed that has a natural gift for teaching that combines giving and requiring respect, along with teaching responsibility & accountability."  While that made me a little embarrassed, I also realized that the compliment was a tribute to my mentors and parents. Love as a baseline and logic as a method is not a new or complicated method of teaching, parenting, or of building relationships. In fact, it is as ancient and proven as the Bible itself and the first parent, our Father God!

When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them respect, love, & the ability to have unlimited potential to enjoy life. He also gave them boundaries & responsibilities.  When they crossed over the line He didn't punish them in anger, but held them accountable to the choices they had made. He did for them what they could not do, in providing a covering for their sin, and then He initiated protection strategies so that they couldn't further inflict harm on themselves by removing their access to the Tree of Life. I am quite sure it grieved His heart to see the injurious choice they made to give in to temptation, but His love never changed & He knew that without free will to choose they would not be able to have any type of quality relationship with Him. Without choice, they would be no better than "yes men".

Throughout the Scriptures, the principles of respect, accountability, and responsibility are taught. Every Word & every action has consequences. Our choices are truly ours to make, but we also have to accept responsibility for them. Ranting and raving at God or others does not change the fact that we are accountable for what we do and say. In fact, God is going to judge our behavior according to the Word He has given us to follow, so we better know what He requires!

There is an amazing lack of understanding of these principles. Parents have given total control over to their children with staggering consequences. So many of today's kids are disrespectful, challenging, & feel an inappropriate entitlement. Much of this comes from the generation which was taught that we parents should strive to be our children's friends.  What a shame! Because of this ridiculous notion, children have few boundaries and even less respect for elders, authority, or rules. They have been allowed to "express their feelings" in language that should cause them shame, and instead of providing appropriate and safe boundaries, so many parents of today's children arm them with excuses or demands .

It doesn't seem that complicated to me. Take the power back.  Set rules, make boundaries, & lovingly apply appropriate consequences. It doesn't take anger or abuse. It takes consistency and love. Earn respect by being fair & applying rules equally to all. Don't fall into the trap of "grayness" that looks at everything with the lenses of subjectivity. And be willing to stick to your boundaries.

Logic dictates that the punishment fits the crime (Thank you, James Dobson) and disrespect is not allowed. Challenges to authority are met with firm strength and appropriate action. No coddling or rule-bending should be acceptable except as an appropriate response to true repentance.

As an example...when my teens were dating, curfews were flexible but enforced. If we agreed on a time, it was expected that they be in at that time unless a phone call told us that there were some mitigating circumstances beyond their control. If time came and went without their arrival, the next time they went out, their departure was delayed by whatever amount of time they "owed" for being late previously, There was no anger, bartering, screaming, or disrespect. It was just how it was and they honored it (or didn't and paid the price).  That's love and logic. We set the rules for their protection, allowed for exceptions when appropriate, and held them accountable. It was always done in their best interest, and in love. It was how I was raised & I passed it on to them.

So many Christians today also need love & logic training. We want the blessings without the accountability. We scream and disrespect God, blaming Him when things don't go our way, and yet we don't want to follow His "old fashioned, black and white" rules. Faithfulness has given way to convenience & rules are seen as suggestions, only appropriate when they fit our desires. We manipulate and smudge the boundaries God has set, never taking into consideration the love that set them there.  What a shame! Instead of excuses, we should strive for obedience. Instead of whining, we should look for what He is teaching. Instead of demanding, we should be giving thanks & praise for our many blessings. Instead of seeing how close we can get to the edge, we should be running full speed towards our loving God & His protection.

Submission, authority, accountability, obedience, respect, & consequences...not always our favorite words but ones that will guide us, protect us, & grow us up into the loving & "logical"  Christians that God has designed us to become. I know I have a ways to go...Will you choose to grow along with me?