The other day, Ann and I were eating out at the local Cracker Barrel. They had seated us in a nice secluded spot, away from the heavy traffic. Suddenly two ladies were led and seated at a table beside us. The younger of the two (late teens) was holding a leash to a dog who carried his own I.D. on his back – ‘SEEING EYE DOG IN TRAINING“. With one verbal command, under her breath, the dog slid down under the small table and there he lay for the entire meal. He didn’t move, he didn’t whine, he didn’t pull on the leash, he didn’t demand his rights, or claim abuse – he just lay there. He was being trained in the beauty of simple obedience.
Before they left, I asked about training Seeing Eye dogs. She said it takes an accepted applicant about one and a half years of disciplined training to prepare the dog for a lifetime of service. Even then, the dog would have to be ‘matched’ with a blind person, considering personalities, problems and needs.
I told her about being on a speaker’s tour for many years, and the time I witnessed a man who approached a football field with his German shepherd dog. I was in my car, eating a snack in the shade a large Elm tree. He moved with strict cadence to the middle of the field with the dog on a short leash. He unhooked the leash and gave one audible command – “Stay!” No other word was spoken as he marched like a soldier off the field and behind some buildings. The dog sat. I finished eating but was somewhat mesmerized by what was happening on the field. It was peculiar, a dog sitting in the hot sun on the very spot where they toss the coin. He didn’t move. He didn’t stretch. He didn’t lay down. He sat. Twenty three minutes after the command and departure the dog was still sitting. Then a loud voice rang out, ‘come!’. He rose immediately, followed the path of his master and teacher and soon disappeared from sight. The beauty of simple obedience.
I began to form in my mind the basic idea of teaching our children the beauty of simple obedience. What if we could teach a child, like we teach a dog to obey a one time command or instruction? The formula began to fall into place. With a ‘one time tell’ we can teach a child to (1) SIT, (2) STAND, (3) STAY, (4) COME, (5) HEEL, (6) FETCH, (7) DO. Seven simple actions, based on the beauty of simple obedience. Remember, you are beginning with a child (both dogs under question were very young). You are hinging all actions on a one time tell. No excuses, no dodges, no exceptions. The young girl trainer told me the secret of good training, “It has to be accomplished with absolute consistency”. I asked if she rewarded the good reaction of the dog with a bit of sweets. She replied, “No, we just love them as a reward for doing what is right.” What a wonderful reward!
The writer of the Hebrew letter had much to say about discipline. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth (disciplines), and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If you endure chastening (discipline), God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastening (discipline), whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards (illegitimate), and not sons at all . . . Now no chastening (discipline) for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews l2:6-11).
The silliest thing you ever said to your kids, “Y’all want a whipping?” You would be shocked if they had answered, “Yeah, Daddy, we’ve been waiting all day for you to come home where you could just whip up on us”. No chastening (discipline) for the present is joyful. If you get a rush out of disciplining your children, you need to examine your own heart. It’s tough work, but nothing on the earth can take the place of it. It must be just and caring and consistent.
Give your kids the German shepherd test and see how well they do. You may have to begin all over again but beginning is a must. You don’t have much time left. Start now. One time tell and the beauty of simple obedience.
The old saying was “Be good for goodness sake” There is a lots of truth in that. The reward for doing good is being good. Paul wrote, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). The reward for doing right is being right. No other reward is greater than the knowledge of just ‘being right’. When your children obey you, they honor you. When they disobey you, they dishonor you (Ephesians 6:1-2). Correction, discipline is the only way to restore that respect and honor (Hebrews 12:9).
Parents teach and discipline – children develop convictions and character.