Over the last two weeks I have shared a little about how I manage disciplining teens. We specifically focused on setting expectations in Part 1, and techniques for disciplining Part 2, and for this last part of the conversation I want to talk about how I keep myself from crossing the lines when it comes to handling a disruptive teen. Here are the five things I keep in mind when I approach discipline.
#1 Expectations cut both ways: Whatever expectations you have go both ways. If I want openness, honesty, and respect I have to model it and expect it of my adults. This means that I call out adults and allow myself to be called out.
#2 I don’t discipline alone: I am part of a ministry team. I have a pastor and core team that I work with, and we all have a role. I ask my core team to help discipline and to keep me in the loop on small issues, and I do the same thing for my pastor on big issues.
#3 Check your pride: A kid misbehaving is not about you: It’s not a slam at your personal or professional value. Youth are people. People are awesome and multifaceted. Don’t let your pride make things worse.
#4 Don’t Trade a Consequence for a Conversation: Discipline issues are rarely ever cut and dry. Troubles at home, spiritual attacks, missing a meal, a breakup. These are all possible vectors for issues. The most effective tool you have in your belt is just trying to authentically ask “what’s up?”
#5 Failure to Discipline is Failure to Disciple: James puts a heavy burden on teachers and preachers. If you put your comfort and desire to avoid conflict ahead of the need to discipline you harm your ministry, your team, and the youth who needs to be called out.
I’m not perfect. I mess some of this up sometimes. I have to apologize to people for #3 at least every other year, but even when I mess up in this process it yields good fruit. I have had teens that I have had to come around to and own that I was not respecting them in the way I called them out. The process of messing up and owning has only made the teens respect the need for discipline more. I know that these are hard issues. My last pointer is this. Take it to prayer. Ask for the Spirit for a manifestation of the Gifts of Courage, Understanding, and Right Judgment in these issues, and don’t let fear keep you from being a good steward.