Obedience Must Become A Habit

Grrrr! My daughter has learned how to stick out her tongue! It’s very aggravating, but at the same time, I’m grateful for the outward demonstration of her inward defiance. At least I can see it and deal with it quickly.

What I’ve learned: If I react I anger and haste, I’ll make comments or threats. These only incite her resistance to authority all the more.1, 2  However, if I gently and persistently remind her that such a behavior is not acceptable and will not be allowed, the resistance begins to wane, and her defiance begins to calm down.

It has taken weeks of effort on my part. Many, many times I’ve had to stop what I was doing to focus solely on her defiant behavior, taking her aside, talking with her, reminding her of her obligations to honor God by honoring her mother and father, 3, 4, 5 retelling or reading Bible stories of obedient children and praying with her. I also prayed privately for her.

Last week, her defiance became so strong and all my efforts were failing, I had to shut her in her bedroom while I prayed. Within minutes, I felt impressed to take her outside for a walk in the orange grove behind our home.

I quietly went to her room. She wanted me to hold her. She was sobbing. I quietly put her socks and shoes on her feet. She sobbed “No! I don’t want to go!” I quietly led her and we went out doors. She sobbed all the way to the orchard. “I can’t walk!” “I want to hold you!”

Then, suddenly she stopped crying. Instantly, she was happy. She began chattering about the oranges and bunnies, birds and bugs. The hard part over, I now had the chance to again talk to her about obedience – willing obedience – the type of obedience that leads to true happiness.

On our short walk, we happened upon the bleached skull of a ground squirrel. She queried as to what had happened to it. So I briefly explained how it had been killed by a coyote; it should have been home, safe and sound with its family; but this little squirrel had disobeyed.

The date of this incident just happened to be October 28th. Halloween was depicted everywhere, so I took the lesson a step further: “Lucy, the skull is a symbol of disobedience and death.”

At four years of age, she understood. Taking the tiny skull in her hands, she said, “I don’t want to disobey.”

We knelt in prayer. We asked for forgiveness. This time, through the power of God, we successfully overcame the powers of darkness.


© 2011, C. Gillan Byrne

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1 White, E. G. (1954/2002). Obedience Must Become a Habit (Chapter Title). In E. G. White Publications (Eds.), Child Guidance (p. 85, ¶1). Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association.

2 Colossians 3:21, KJV

3 Exodus 20:12, KJV

 4 Colossians 3:20, KJV

 5 Ephesians 6:1, KJV