One night we were hosting a regular weekly prayer meeting in our home and my husband was downstairs in our basement leading worship while I had the challenging task of putting my three young children to bed.
As I mentioned in my first post in this series on Priests in Training, one of my greatest desires is to teach my children about their calling to be priests of God who minister to Him through prayer and worship and simply loving Him with their whole hearts. I also deeply desire to learn how to minister to God in my daily life as a mom, wife, employee, daughter, sister, worship leader, writer, etc.
To be totally honest, my two older children were fighting like cats and dogs and ignoring every request I made of them, dilly-dallying their way through the bedtime routine and driving me completely nuts! At the same time, my newborn was wailing, wanting to be fed and angry at being ignored while I tried to deal with his siblings. I was totally feeling sorry for myself and wishing I could be downstairs in the prayer meeting instead of dealing with toddler tantrums and disobedience!
In that moment, I was thinking of the story of Hannah and Samuel and in my heart I asked the Lord, “How in the world does this matter in the context of training up priests to minister to You??” And to my surprise, in the midst of the chaos of disciplining and reigning in my three little sweet treasures 😉 , He totally spoke to me and reminded me of some other children in that same Bible story.
God brought to my memory the sons of the priest Eli – Hophni and Phineas – who it says, “were corrupt; they did not know the Lord…the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:12, 17). These young men were priests in the tabernacle, and even when their father Eli heard about the horrific ways they were defiling themselves and the Lord’s place of worship, he only rebuked them and failed to discipline or stop them, and they did not heed his voice (1 Samuel 2:22-25).
The Lord then sends a prophet to rebuke Eli, saying, “Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings…Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall die, both of them. Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever.” (2 Samuel 2:29, 34-35)
WOW. I then saw how vital and critical it was for me to be doing exactly what I was doing in that moment. Disciplining my little priests was crucial for them to be trained and raised up to be faithful priests to God who would walk according to what is on His heart and in His mind. As I teach them about the importance of obedience, not only to their parents, but to God, I am protecting them from a greater judgment and equipping them to walk before God’s Anointed Son, Jesus, forever!!
So, though I have much to learn about discipline and how to actually administer it effectively, with the right mixture of love and firmness, and even though I realize I probably often fail to discipline my children with the necessary consistency and perseverance, I was encouraged and bolstered up in my determination to not give up! And I want to encourage you moms and dads and caregivers as well, that these little things really do matter and they hold eternal value for these children’s future and for them to be raised up as faithful priests. Giving time outs is just as valid a form of worship and ministry unto the Lord as being in a prayer meeting!