Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Pitchin’ a Fit, Day 4

Episode Resources

Learn more about the Waynes' ministry: Family Renewal.

Leslie Basham: When you need to discipline your children, do you do it out of anger or out of love? Here’s Brook Wayne.

Brook Wayne: A lot of time we tend to parent out of a reactionary sort of stance. We’re seeing the child disobey, and we hop on it, and we lash out with angry words, and we try to correct it.

There’s a place where a child needs corrected, but there’s also something to be said for being a proactive parent—actually looking for ways when the sun is shining and your child is happy and you’re having a great day, to be able to talk about serious issues.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of A Place of Quiet Rest, for Thursday, April 20, 2017.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Well, I don’t know about you, but I have been so encouraged and challenged by this conversation we’ve been having over the last several days with Israel and Brook Wayne.

They’re parents. They have nine children, so far, and they consider those children gifts and blessings from the Lord, but they’ve also given them a lot of opportunities to be sanctified and to learn the gospel afresh.

They also have a ministry of families, Family Renewal, and there’s a link on our website to their website if you want to learn more about their ministry and other books they’ve written.

They do a lot of speaking at conventions on parenting and marriage. They’re friends. They live not too far from our ministry, and we’ve gotten to know each other over the last several years. I love this family. I love their hearts. I hope you’ve been encouraged as I’ve been by this conversation.

We’ve been talking specifically about a book they’ve written together about overcoming angry and stressed-out parenting. As Israel said in our first program in this series, this is a front-burner topic for a lot of families. I can’t imagine there’s any parent—do you think I’m right, Brook?—that doesn’t sometimes deal with (maybe a lot) anger and stress and how that comes out in parenting.

Brook: I think it must apply to all parents because all parents are pushed at some point beyond their comfort level.

Nancy: And then what comes out is a giveaway to what’s in the heart.

Brook: Right.

Nancy: God uses that whole process to change hearts.

So the book is called Pitchin’ a Fit. You might think it’s about children pitching a fit, but it’s really about parents who pitch a fit if they don’t learn how to walk in the Spirit.

We want to talk again today about some positive ways to nurture and affirm your children so that anger is replaced with grace and with training and with things that are productive instead of counterproductive.

So, Israel and Brook, thank you so much for the time you’ve shared with us over the past several days.

Brook: Oh, thanks. It’s been such a blessing.

Israel Wayne: Yes, absolutely.

Nancy: I’m eager for people to get ahold of this book. I think it’s going to be a great resource—it is a great resource. I think it’s going to be a great help to not just parents but married people, single people with issues of anger. There’s really some practical teaching in here.

The book is available through our Resource Center if you just contact our ministry. Call us at 1–800–569–5959. And when you make a donation of any amount to help us keep getting this kind of teaching into people’s lives, we’ll be glad to send you that book as our way of saying, “Thank you for your support of this ministry.”

You can do that, and you can also go to ReviveOurHearts.com and make a donation there. But be sure and let us know you want a copy of the book, Pitchin’ a Fit, or the book on anger and parenting. You get the gist of it, and we’ll get it to you.

I want to start by just looking at a passage we have just brushed by in this conversation from James 1. Israel, you talked a few days ago about how our desires or our expectations when we don’t get our way produces conflict. And in that context in James 1, Scripture teaches us some about anger, and I’m thinking particularly of verses 19 and 20. Could you just unpack that for us a little bit?

Israel: Yes. Those passages were so powerful in my life. One of our expectations as Christian parents is that we want our children to be godly. We want the righteousness of Christ to come forth in our child’s life. That passage in James 1 tells us that “the wrath of man will not produce the righteousness of God.” It won’t do it.

Nancy: Let me just say the verse before that which sets up what you’re unpacking here. It says, “Let every person [parents, mates, children—every person] be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”

Israel: Yes.

Nancy: And then it says, “Because . . .”

Israel: “Because . . .” And when you think about that, it’s so counterintuitive to how we tend to respond as parents.

I know when my children come sometimes and they’re having a squabble, and they’re arguing between each other, “She took my toy. No, I had it first. No, he didn’t. I had it.” That kind of conversation.

Sometimes, if I’m especially busy or distracted and I don’t really want to have to deal with this situation, the last thing I want to do is be patient, listen, get to the bottom of it, deal with it appropriately. Sometimes my response is more just like, “Look, I don’t care who did what to whom. You’re both in trouble. Go to your room.” Just to get it out of my way, to remove the situation.

But that passage in verse 19 really shows us what God is like. He is gracious. He’s compassionate. He’s merciful. He’s slow to anger. So it’s just telling us to learn how to become like Him. Right? And that’s how He relates to us as our Heavenly Father. He relates to us in that gracious and merciful way. It’s His gentleness and His kindness that leads us to repentance.

Nancy: And yet, sometimes, I think, whether it’s in marriage or parenting or any other relationship, we think, If I don’t express it with anger, nothing’s going to happen.

Israel: Right. “They won’t get the point.”

Nancy: “They won’t get the point.” And yet, this passage tells us exactly the opposite is true.

Israel: It’s the law of sowing and reaping. The way I think about it is: If you plant a corn kernel in the ground, you can never reasonably anticipate that an apple tree is going to grow there. It’s not the right kind of seed. It’s not the right DNA. It doesn’t have the capacity to produce apples.

Nancy: Right.

Israel: And so when we are sowing on a regular, ongoing, habitual lifestyle basis seeds of anger into our child’s life, the fruit that we can reasonably expect to grow from those seeds will be anger, bitterness, and rejection from our child. And that is not the fruit that we want. There’s no parent that I know, when they hold a newborn baby and look into their eyes, they think to themselves, I hope when this child is twenty-one years old they don’t want to have anything to do with me. I don’t know anyone who thinks that.

But, unfortunately, I think sometimes parents do all of the wrong things for the right reasons. They want so badly for a certain outcome to happen that they implement methods that are not God’s methods and expect to get God’s results.

If you want the fruit of the Spirit to come forth in your child’s life, you have to use the methods of the fruit of the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh. Spirit gives birth to Spirit. If you want the life of the Spirit to come forth in another person’s life, you have to sow the seeds of the Spirit.

Nancy: And Proverbs says it this way: “The rod of your anger will fail.” It’s not going to work.

Israel: That’s right.

Nancy: The disciplining, the lashing out in anger, you may think it’s the only thing that’s going to get results, but, to the contrary . . . Again, not just in terms of children, but in terms of any relationship—with your boss, with your mate, with anyone—the lashing out in anger is not going to produce the righteousness of God, which is what you want in your children. It’s what you want in your relationships. It’s what we want in our own hearts.

I’m really glad that in this book as you dealt with the subject of anger, you don’t just say, “Don’t be angry,” which the Scripture has a lot to say about that, and you take us to those Scriptures. You also talk about some of the practical ways in parenting to cultivate the fruit of righteousness in your children, about nurturing them in the ways of God, affirming them in ways that are life giving and produce good and quality fruit.

And, really, you’re talking about replacing anger in your home, in your heart, in your relationship with your children, with something that is far more powerful and effective than anger.

Brook: I like to call that nurturing. The nurturer has such a sense of wellbeing and caring and just surrounding the child—in this case a child—with love. A lot of times we tend to parent out of a reactionary sort of stance. We’re seeing the child disobey, and we hop on it, and we lash out with angry words, and we try to correct it.

There’s a place where a child needs corrected, but there’s also something to be said for being a proactive parent—actually looking for ways when the sun is shining and your child is happy and you’re having a great day to be able to talk about serious issues: How do we treat each other? How does the Scripture talk about lying and what to do when a person lies? So that those lessons are being taught in a friendly way, in a fun way.

I would say: Go out on a swing with a cookie and teach your child while they’re munching on that cookie. While they’re taking in that sweet taste, let them have the sweet taste of what the Scripture says about so many areas of life.

Nancy: When you’re not in the middle of a conflict or disciple situation.

Brook: Right. And it helps you, as a mom, because you’re not all worked up. You’re not going, “Oh, I’ve got to deal with this,” or “I’ve been interrupted,” or “The soup’s boiling over, yet little Johnny needs told ‘no.’”

Those types of situations kind of create an irritation in us. If we can kind of beat it to the punch, so to speak, and teach our child on a fun day, in a fun time, that makes such a difference.

Nancy: And, really, this is an approach, this nurturing approach with your children, that can help a parent. As you explain it, stay calm and guide your child and leave the situation more closely bonded to each other, rather than when you started.

Brook: Right. That’s a goal of mine. And when I saw, as a young mom, that I was sowing seeds of distancing myself in ways when I would correct my child,or even when I would need to teach them a subject about what the Bible says about character, I started looking for ways to intentionally draw them closer to myself.

I did this physically. I would sit down with them. And I always say, “Sit down with your child,” because when I’m standing up, I’m halfway thinking about stirring that soup on the stove or changing the baby’s diaper or something else, anything to keep going. Sit down with your child. Draw him close to yourself. Put your arm around them.

This is as much a symbol for them as it is for me, because I need to remind myself: I am for this child. I am for this child learning and growing. If it’s a correction issue, I am for them overcoming the sin that is in their life.

And that’s a symbol, then, for the child to know that “Mom’s for me. Mom actually likes me still, even though I drew on the walls”—or whatever the situation is. That sends a huge signal to our children.

If I stand on the other side of the room and try to direct my child or try to correct them, my tendency is to raise my voice, because, after all, they’re twenty feet away from me. It also sends that message physically that I’m way over here, and I am keeping myself away from your level of dirtiness, or whatever. So drawing them close has such a huge impact.

Looking for ways to be intentional with my children has been a long journey. I started out just kind of fumbling around trying to think, Okay, lashing out not’s working. I went back to what James 1:19–20 says about man’s anger not bringing about the righteousness of God. I saw my anger, and even my harshness, not bringing about anything I wanted to see.

I wanted to see a repentant attitude. I wanted to see listening ears. When I started looking for ways to bring that about, I had to change my ways. I fumbled a lot. I taught them silly little poems to say. I looked for anything I found in the ancient writings of Christian heroes so that I could bring to bear in those situations an effective way to teach my children, teach them how to be corrected easily, and also how to be taught in the Scriptures.

Nancy: I loved also one of the practical tips you gave which was to limit your words. That goes along with James 1:19 which says we should be “quick to hear and slow to speak and slow to get angry.” Those things really seem to go hand in hand.

So it sounds like when you’re dealing with these issues with your kids, that sometimes you can just talk too much. And in talking too much, you provoke yourself and them to anger.

Brook: Yes. I think a lot of moms would really be good professors because, wow, they can give some really good lectures. When I realize my child is tuning out to my words, I find that I will need to limit my words.

And a lot of this harkens back to, if we’ve been really good about having good, nurturing conversations in the happy times, there’s not really much of a need to go on and on about when the child needs corrected, because you can harken back and say, “Remember when we talked the other day about what the Bible says about this issue you’re dealing with (you be specific) about honesty, what the Bible says about honesty?”

And then let that word, that teaching you have given them in a happy moment, come back into that moment instead of going on and on and on, and degrading them with words, degrading them for their bad behavior.

Nancy: You mentioned that angry confrontation is often more about you as a parent and the embarrassment or the hurt that you’re experiencing, but loving confrontation is more about that child’s hurt and character and the relationship.

Brook: Yes. It’s not about getting a load off of our chest as parents. And, you know what, that’s what yelling is. Yelling is a release for the pent-up emotions that moms feel when they see their house coming to destruction, or they see their children bickering with each other, or dishonoring them by yelling back at them. So they have a tendency to want to yell to get it off of their chest.

And, I must say, it works. It works for the mom as a physical release, but it sure doesn’t help the child. All it does is take that stress that is on your shoulders and puts it on that little child’s shoulders.

Nancy: Brook, talk about, for a moment, about perspective. I just love picking your brain because you’re doing a lot of parenting here with nine children, and different children, different temperaments. Do you find that you have to, like, pick your battles, that some things just don’t need to matter as much as other things? How do you decide what’s worth investing emotional time and effort into and some things to just say, “This isn’t something that really matters, that I need to be concerned about at this moment”?

Brook: Sure. All issues with our children stem from something small. There’s definitely something to be said for nipping that in the bud, and those would be the issues that would relate to how they treat other people. Those are the issues I want to focus on when I’m dealing with my children.

We have a child that still sucks his thumb, and that’s an issue that we talk about, but I’m not making it into, “This is the hill that we’re going to die on.”

Lying? Oh, that needs dealt with. That and any kind of little sneakiness or deceitfulness needs dealt with in a serious way so that he realizes this is what’s important because this is what the Scripture speaks to.

Nancy: So you’re really addressing: Is this a heart issue? Is this a character issue? Is this an issue that is going to harm this child or make him harmful to somebody else?

Brook: Yes.

Nancy: I think there are some things that are just childish that are not sinful that sometimes adults can just get too bent out of shape because we’re tired and we don’t want the inconvenience, or we don’t want the extra effort. And knowing the difference between those seems like it would be important.

Brook: It does seem important, and I feel like we need to have a clear difference in our own minds what is merely child foolishness, ignorance, or unskillfulness, and what’s actually defiance. And a parent knows that. They know their child well enough to see, “This is a defiant attitude. This is dishonoring to God’s Word. This needs dealt with.”

Nancy: I think the child probably knows it, too, a lot of the times.

Brook: Yes, probably.

Nancy: Well, we’ve talked about nurture, nurturing your children. You also talk about affirmation. We hear a lot about affirmation today. Children need to be affirmed. They need to be told they’re special. We’ve had a whole generation of children who grew up being affirmed. Everybody won the game. Everybody got the trophies.

What’s a biblically balanced approach to affirming your children? Help us with that, Israel.

Israel: Well, we were talking about correction a minute ago. I think one of the things we do sometimes in correcting is we’re doing that to make ourselves feel better, as Brook said. But all correction needs to be for the benefit of the child. It needs to be redemptive, to help them come into right relationship with Christ and with other people. That’s really why we’re doing corrections, why we’re doing discipline. It’s not for our benefit or for our convenience.

So when we’re addressing our child, we don’t want to demoralize the person. We want to address the behavior. And ideally, we want to actually address the heart behind the behavior. That’s even more important. The discipline needs to address the behavior, but then the motive of, “Why did you do what you did?” and to help them to see that.

But sometimes I find that in correction it’s so easy to take it to the person and to tear them down verbally. What I’ve learned about affirmation is that we all want to influence, especially as parents. We want to influence our children.

And influence is really a component of two primary factors. The first is time. If you want to influence somebody else, you have to spend time with them. But the second, that is almost equally as powerful, is affirmation. So people tend to be influenced by those they spend the most time with and those who affirm them the most.

So our words can be very powerful to build up or to tear down, to give life or to destroy. So thinking about the words that we use with our children, one of the things that Brook and I say to ourselves as parents is we need to speak what the Scripture says about our children.

How we feel about our children is sometimes wrong. Sometimes we feel that our children are an annoyance, or they’re a nuisance, or they’re a problem, or they’re ruining my life, or whatever it is they may feel. But what does the Scripture say?

Scripture says in Psalm 127, they’re a heritage of the Lord. They’re a blessing. They’re a reward. When we don’t feel in our heart the things that the Scripture says our children are, again, I think that’s where we have to go back to Christ and say, “Change my heart. Help me to see my children through God’s eyes so that we can affirm them.”

So we’re not advocating for some kind of a false flattery where we tell our children things that are not true about them.

I think about some of these singing competition shows where people get up in front of millions of TV viewers and embarrass themselves in a live television audience because no one has ever told them in their whole life that they can’t sing. You’re not doing a kindness.

Nancy: You’ve not got talent.

Israel: Exactly. That’s not love. But affirming somebody and being able to speak the truth of what God says about them and to give them hope, that is so important as parents. If you want to have influence with your children, you have to have that component of affirmation.

Nancy: As you think about your children—sixteen years old down to nine months—what do you want to be true of them? What are your goals for your children? As you, Mom and Dad, have prayed together, you’re doing the daily stuff, having a family, being a family, but as you think about the long run—you’ve got boys, you’ve got girls, you’ve got kids with different temperaments, different abilities—what would be your over-arching goals and hopes for your children?

Brook: Well, we’ve actually created just a simple sentence that we use as our family motto.

Israel: It’s actually framed in our living room.

Brook: We’ve gotten this great big, 3’x2’ poster with a beautiful picture on it, and it says, “We exist to know, love, and serve God and to love and serve others.”

Israel: I think it’s important for every family to have that mission statement, to know: “This is why we’re here.”

John 17:3 says, “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (ESV).

And when you know God, when you understand who He is and what He’s done for you, then the response is, just like Paul says in Romans 12:1, the overflow of the heart that “in light of God’s mercy (in light of what He’s done for you), why would you not give your entire self as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable unto God, that is our reasonable act of worship.”

And how do we worship God? What is the expression of that? What does that look like? How do we serve God? We predominately serve God by loving and serving other people.

So, I think the sequence of that is important because you can’t love somebody you don’t know, and you can’t serve somebody from your heart that you don’t love. And so knowing God, loving God, serving God, and that being expressed through loving and serving other people.

We put that in the high traffic area of our house, the main focal point, the place where we go through every single day because we want a compass. We want a true north. We want to be able to remember why we exist, why we get up every day and do laundry and wash dishes and vacuum the floor and make meals and teach our children and interface with other people. Why do we do all this? We do it for those reasons because that’s the reason that we were created.

When you know why you exist, when you know what your purpose is, there’s so much freedom in that because it just cuts out the clutter. It cuts out the distractions. It frees and enables you to focus on the things that are truly important and not get so stressed about all the insignificant things that are really secondary.

Nancy: I know we’ve had a lot of parents listening to this series of programs. If you’ve missed any of them, please go back and pick them up. I think you’ll really be moved to hear how God could have taken this couple who, humanly speaking, would not have had a chance of building a godly family, but He’s redeemed their lives from destruction. He’s got them on a whole new pathway, and now He’s writing a new chapter through their children. I know that would be encouraging to you.

But I know that as you’ve listened to this—we’ve got many moms, perhaps some dads who are saying, “That’s what I would love to have.” And that’s not where you are.

Well, it may not be where you’ve been, but it can be where God takes you. So, Israel, as we close this conversation, I wonder if you would just pray for listeners, for moms especially who are maybe struggling today with why they do what they do and needing hope and needing to know that God can redeem their situation.

Let’s just join our hearts together and pray for those who’ve heard this conversation.

Israel: Father, we thank You that every good and perfect gift comes from You. And, Lord, we acknowledge our own need, our own inadequacies, and our own failures. Lord, we recognize that we don’t have within ourselves the capacity to live this life that You’ve called us to. We’re weak, and we fail. But, Lord, we know that each day You’ve promised us new mercies.

So we come to You humbly this day, and we ask You, Lord, to just give us new mercies, to show us once again from Your Word, Your life, and Your truth that feeds us, that inspires us, and encourages us to continue to press on to become more like You and to share that love, that transformational love and grace that You’ve put in our hearts, with our children.

Lord, I pray for those families and those parents who feel incapacitated, just bound by this sin of anger. Lord, it’s an addiction for some, and they feel like there’s no hope, and that they can’t change. That’s not true.

We thank You, Lord, for the gospel. Thank You, Lord, for the cross. Thank You, Lord, that You have broken the chains. There is no sin, there is no habit, there is no addiction, there is nothing that can stand before the grace of God. It overpowers it. It overcomes all. Lord, we trust alone in that. Lord, we’re grateful that You freely give it, and that, in our humility, in our brokenness, it’s in those low places that You find us.

So, Lord, we just come to You broken and humble, and we say, “God, we need You.” We ask You, Lord, to fill us with Your Spirit and equip us to love these children with a perfect love from Your heart. We ask this in Jesus’ name.

Leslie: That’s Israel Wayne. He and his wife, Brook, have been talking with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth about parenting out of love and not out of anger. Maybe you’ve heard today’s conversation, and you’re ready to take steps of replacing anger with love.

Israel and Brook Wayne have written a book to help you walk through those steps. You heard them talk about it with Nancy earlier in the program, and we’d like to send you a copy. It’s called, Pitchin’ a Fit: Overcoming Angry and Stressed-Out Parenting. It’s our gift to you when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount.

Your gift will help Revive Our Hearts continue providing this program each weekday. The ministry is facing a budget gap right now of about $500,000, and your donation will make a big difference. Call with your support and ask for Pitchin’ a Fit. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow, Dannah Gresh helps you recognize why your family is so important. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.