Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul. Proverbs 29, verse 17.
One of the prerogatives of writing a blog is that you get to choose the topic matter. With this verse, the Almighty made it easy on me. I’m a proud dad and as such, I’m proud of all three of my kids. I’m proud of my oldest daughter for overcoming odds and doing well in school while working full time and assuming all the burdens of adulthood on her own. I’m proud of the man she is marrying because I think he’s the best example of any young man I’ve ever met; he’s diligent, caring, devout, fun, hardworking and devoted. I’m proud of my youngest daughter for working so hard through so many trials of her own, for starting college last week, and for striving to find her own way in the world.
But today I’m honored to say how proud I am of my son. He’s 16 and just started his first job. He has always been interested in earning money, and when he got a car for Christmas he took to heart what we’d been saying about “you need to pay for your gas and insurance.” A few weeks ago, his future brother in law vouched for him and he landed the job. Since then, he’s worked more than a few nights and is eagerly awaiting his first full paycheck. On Saturday night, despite that he had plans and we had things going on in our house, when the restaurant called and asked if he would come in, he didn’t hesitate. He suited up and went.
I was SO PROUD of him. He could have stayed at home. We were having a big party at the house (a Bible study, actually) and he could have stayed for the fun. He could have just gone to his room to watch TV and relax (because he had worked hard the night before and was tired from muoy Thai that day). He could have joined in the study like he has several times before. He could have played with the little kids who came with their parents. Instead, he went into work and worked a full shift. His actions brought peace to me; his actions are a delight to my soul.
It isn’t as if he suddenly got this inspiration all on his own: it’s been building for years. He learned it at home, in church, at school, and from experience. He’s a typical young adult: full of words and answers, sometimes mouthy, staying up to late watching DVRs, knowing much more than his parents, acting like school is a bore, wearing baggy pants that are holey and frayed, and he doesn’t believe there was such a thing as music before Eminem. He’s more interested in his girl friend than in unloading the dishwasher or doing his homework; he’s quite content to live in a room where you couldn’t find an elephant hiding in all the dirty laundry; he doesn’t snack or dine but he does graze through the pantry; he always has a quick retort even when he knows he shouldn’t say it.
And none of that really matters very much compared to the solid young man of faith who’s emerging from all that typical teenage bluster. He asks to go to our church youth group because he enjoys the company of Christian kids there. On Sunday mornings, he volunteers to help in children’s church, helping with both the little kids and the Tweeners. He has learned to manage his grades and work on areas where he needs help despite having severe dyslexia. He has watched other people make mistakes and he has learned from them. His temper has always been harsh but he’s learning to channel it, to master it instead of letting it master him. And when you talk with him about serious issues and serious matters, if you talk with him evenly and as the young man he is, he gives serious responses and shows real depth and gravity.
Now he’s starting to demonstrate a work ethic that’s honorable and good. He’s always said he would be a millionaire by the time he hits 25. If he keeps up these habits, maybe he will!
He’s my son and I’m intensely proud of the young man he is becoming. When he was a young boy, we weren’t severe disciplinarians, but when I look back now I see that I was harder than I should have been. I suppose every parent says “if I knew then what I know now” and now I understand why. If I could, I would be calmer, more reasoned, more controlled in how I disciplined. I would yell less, spank rarely, listen more, love always, not let my frustrations churn into anger. Years ago, I did those things and now I’m not proud of them. There was a better way, but I didn’t know how and didn’t do well.
Despite this, my son is growing into a spiritual man of substance. More often than not, he says and does things now that make me swell with pride instead of grimace in shame. He learned discipline first at home, but then from his church, his school, and others. He’s far from perfect and doesn’t pretend to be, but he’s mostly disciplined. When I think of all the things that could have gone wrong throughout his life – and all the things that DID go wrong during his life – I shudder at how badly he could have turned out. So far so good, though, and when we pray for him every morning, now his mom and I each pray for him thankfully, glad he is a blessing in our life. He says and does things that make us proud and bring delight to our souls. God has blessed us through our young man, and we’re thankful to now be a blessings to him as well.
Yes, his sisters and soon-to-be brother-in-law are delights as well, but this verse isn’t talking about them. Yes, it’s true that son is still sometimes full of bluster. Just a few days ago, I was talking with someone who said that, during a youth group meeting awhile back, the leader had to call him on his bravado; that’s happened before. Rather than copping an attitude, though, my son learned from it and apparently accepted the criticism; listen, adjust, forgive and move forward. That’s a recent development. It’s a sign of maturing, and it’s a good sign indeed. Yes, it’s true that getting a job is commonplace; he isn’t the first young adult to work. But it is a first for him. Like his sisters, he’s taking himself and his life seriously without becoming too gravely serious in the process. To me, that’s evidence, proof-positive, that God is hard at work Himself in this extraordinary young man He put into my life.