When we start to consider the first days of September, part of the pain for many parents (and kids!) is the return to a tighter schedule when most of the summer has been heavily sans structure. We feel it and our kids do too. A wonderful thing for us to do, as parents, is make the structure - whatever it is - of the summer known to our kids. Knowing that they have "x" amount of free time, meal times, etc. can help kids feel as though they have boundaries to play within. The look of discipline may change for kids over the summer, but the awareness that all rules don't go out the window is important too.
Our spiritual lives can often feel like kids in the summer time. We can feel so free and easy when we don’t have structure and discipline. We can enjoy the sun, and not feel like we need to worry about anything, but at the end of the day, we soon realize that we haven’t done much.
Once in awhile, I can convince myself to "take it easy" on spiritual disciplines and how I structure my walk with God because sometimes it can feel too "rigid". I go from reading my Bible each morning/evening, praying on my drive in to work, and integrating a variety of spiritual disciplines into my every day to doing these things "just when I feel like it." And to be honest with you, when I get into that mode, I very rarely "feel like it."
Being a part of a church for people who aren't into church, sometimes people misunderstand and believe this means we are anti-structure or anti-discipline, but this is simply untrue. Our desire for growth and maturity in Jesus causes us to recognize our need for structure and discipline in our own lives. Even the early church had their own structure and discipline in when and how they worshiped, served God, and developed community:
"All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity - all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people."
Did this require some form of structure? Yes. Did this require loads of discipline? Yes.
Unfortunately, these words often get a bad rap. I can't hear the word discipline without conjuring up images of the times I was sent to my room as a child, or the groundings I received as a teen. Maybe you have similar experiences. But discipline is not limited to that. In fact, discipline put into perspective is a beautiful thing. The word discipline has at its root, the word disciple. A disciple is a learner or pupil of someone. We are disciples learning to be more like Jesus. We are meant to disciple our kids, the best way we know how, to be more like Jesus.
When we have structure and discipline in our lives, we can feel balance and grow in our maturity. This is true for kids and for us as adults in our spiritual journey. It makes happier, healthy kids - and spiritually healthier adults.