Updated: Jan 21, 2021
Fathers do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4 esv
I've lived in the same complex for the past ten years. I've shopped at the same stores, taken my kids to the same park, ordered pizza from the same Pizzeria. I've even filled my prescriptions at the same pharmacy for the LAST TEN YEARS! And although I haven't won any awards for "The Most Outgoing Person," it's still pretty hard to forget the "Lady with the Five Kids." This is why you could imagine my surprise, one hotter than usual August night, when the pharmacist asked me for ID. The reason for my surprise was because they've never asked me for ID in the past, and to make matters worse....my ID was nestled safely at home in my air-conditioned room (where I wished I was at the moment)! They refused to give me my daughters medication. I tried reasoning with them and explaining that they've NEVER asked me for it in the past. But they just reminded me of their policy. My surprise quickly turned to anger and frustration as I explained that the policy should be "CONSISTENT" to avoid all of this unnecessary emotion and confusion. And THAT'S when it hit me......How much anger I must cause my children from MY inconsistency.
Sure, the scripture (Eph. 6:4), warns "fathers" not to provoke their children to anger, but mothers can apply this fundamental all the same. Something as simple yet substantial as inconsistency can provoke our children to anger.
Think About it: You're at work, and the policy is, no taking off on Fridays resulting in a three-day weekend. Then one week your boss tells you to take off Friday because you've worked so hard this week. So you do! Two weeks later, same scenario. So you take off again! Fast forward a month or so and you call out on a Friday, only to return to work on Monday and get written up. Talk about provoking someone to anger and sending mixed signals! Or... let's get a little more personal: My son is NOT allowed to play video games during week days. Monday afternoon he completes all homework and chores early and asks if he can play for a little while, and because I'm busy and well, let's be honest...it's ONE less kid to look after at the moment, I allow it. Now Tuesday afternoon he does the same thing, only this time I say "No, you're not allowed to play video games during the week." Now he's angry. His anger produces disrespect in the form of a very sarcastic "You let me play yesterday" and now we're both in a situation that could have ALLL been avoided. If it's hard for us, as adults, to filter through our anger, how much harder is it for a child who's learning how to - "Refrain from anger and turn away from wrath; do not fret- it leads to evil." (Psalm 37:8) Being consistent is detrimental to a child's walk with the Lord and life in general. Children FLOURISH in consistency. How else can an institution like a school run successfully each day when the adults are drastically outnumbered if not for consistency? Same bell schedules, same program etc. If our children are - "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior.." (Psalm 127:4-5), wouldn't you want to hit your target each and every time? So let's not let something like our own inconsistency cause our children to stumble. Sure I just wanted to reward him for completing his chores in a timely fashion, but I could have rewarded him with extra time over the weekend. That way his hard work is acknowledged and our consistency isn't compromised, leaving no room for a child to have to figure out if something is permissible or not. I’m so thankful that - "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever more" (Hebrews 13:8) always consistent and we are NEVER left to "figure it out" on our own!