Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church.

It is no coincidence the words “discipline” and “disciple” share the first seven letters. Both words come from the Latin root words disciplina and discipulus. Disciplina means “given instruction, teaching, learning, knowledge” and discipulus is the object of “given instruction, teaching, learning, and knowledge.” Thus, grammatically speaking a disciple is the object of one’s discipline.

Many of us do not see discipline in its correct light because we have all inevitably encountered someone who has abused the responsibility of instilling disciplining; an inconsistent teacher, an abusive parent, or a boss who dished out discipline without any respect or love for the person. Thus, when we are given the responsibility to discipline we shy away from exercising such power because we are still haunted by the memory of an abusive disciplinarian in our past. We may have even said the words, “When I’m in charge, I’ll be nothing like the parents I had!” Or “When I become a leader I am going to be more understanding than the leaders I experienced.” Therefore, instead of seeing love and discipline as co-contributors in the disciple-making process we see discipline as the enemy of love, or at least plan “B” if the whole love thing doesn’t work out.

“Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them” Proverbs 13:24 (NLT). Now, I do not mean to create a debate about whether spanking children is biblical, but rather highlight the wisdom principle this verse communicates by viewing discipline as a means of showing love. Tolerating disrespect from your students and allowing them disrupt the group does not show that student you love them, but rather it shows you love yourself in that you get to avoid having to deal with conflict.

Conflict that arises when you discipline a student in your group does not induce lovey-dovey feelings within you. However, discipline communicates you love them enough not to allow them to act in a way inconsistent with the character of Jesus. Afterall, in the sporting arena, don’t the players a coach wants to improve the most receive the most discipline for their incorrect play? Rudy Hagood said it best, “Love your kids [D-Group students] more than the way they make you feel.”

If you are experiencing disrespect of any kind from your students make an effort this week to put an end to it. Instill the discipline methods layed out below and at the same time show your students you love’em.

Ways a D-Group Leader should instill Discipline:

  • Ask a student to leave the group (Sit in the lobby until group is finished)
  • Call the parents and ask for their child not to return to group the following week and have the student assess whether he or she wants to participate in a respectful manner from here on out. (Notify Garrison if you choose to do this)
  • Bring the student to Garrison or another Shepherd Youth Staff member after group ends and speak with his or her parent together.
  • Ask the student to sit outside the room for five minutes. Tell them you will get them when you are ready to have them back.
  • Call Garrison and discuss the possibility of him or her not returning for the rest of the semester.