Discipline: Growing Our Students

As teachers, we are given a special honor and privilege, which is our students. At the tender age of five, or even less, these innocent pupils are given to us to care for and to learn life knowledge from us. That privilege continues with us throughout our Adventist Education system into adulthood.

I say so, because at Pacific Adventist University, Papua New Guinea, my oldest student, is married and in his early 40s. The ability to be able to share the gift of education with others is an opportunity given to teachers with trust. The way we use this given responsibility can either influence our students for good or the dreaded opposite could happen, for the devil is at war with us (Revelation 12:17; 1 Peter 5:8).

One area that I consider significant and where teachers can truly make a positive influence on their students for an eternal cause, is discipline. In writing to the scattered Hebrew Christians, the Apostle Paul reminded them of the noteworthy value of discipline with these words: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives (Hebrews 12: 5-6).

In these passages, the author of Hebrews made two invaluable points in regard to discipline. Firstly, there are those who despise and get discouraged when discipline is used. Secondly, God disciplines those He loves. And these to God, are His sons and daughters (Hebrews 12:6-8).

Despised and Discouraged — attitudes of anti-discipline
In the world and even within schools are those who enact the use of discipline as a positive method to build quality characters in students. Those who advocate for this argue their points through the lens of grace and with the awareness that children are granted their own individual rights.

Sometimes as teachers and parents we overstep the line, thus portraying discipline negatively to our students. I remember being punished once for picking a fight with a female student in my class. I was summoned to see the principal, where I was promptly punished for my action. It was a humbling experience for me back then. My young mind was ignorant to the fact that such behavior was punishable.

At the time, I became discouraged, and thought that the principal should have also listened to my side of the story first, before arriving at a decision. Because of that experience, I came to see God as a tyrant who was unloving and severe in my younger years.

God, Our Father Disciplines His Sons and Daughters.
The God of the Hebrews is a loving Father who chastises His children (v.7). In this Father-sons (children) relationship—love, chastening and scourging is packaged. The author went on to say that the Father (God) who disciplines in return is respected for doing so (v.5). However, those not chastened are “illegitimate” sons and daughters (v.8). Being a third-generation Adventist, I was taught growing up the value of the Law of God, and I recalled memorizing the Ten Commandments verses in Exodus 20.

The Sabbath verses also took prominence. In the Adventist School I attended, apart from the weekly class-time, students were also taught the value of worshipping God. My teachers and parents have instilled in me the value of worshipping God, in a culture where animism is quite obvious.

Looking back, I am grateful for godly parents and Adventist teachers who through their godly lives and well-intentioned discipline have helped make me into a better person.

What are some steps you can take today to positively portray discipline to your students?

Loren Poli
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  • | 3 months ago

    Thank you Loren. Some people think that discipline and punishment are the same, and use the terms interchangeably, but in fact they are very different. While punishment can be used to “pay” for a wong act, discipline is related to the word disciple – , so the goal of character development and transformation, the focus on the future, instead of the past wrong, and the emotion of love instead of anger and revenge are quite different.

    • | 3 months ago

      Excellent comment, Carol. Thank you!

  • | 3 months ago

    Thank you Loren for advocating for discipline. If discipline is undertaken with loving actions, words and thoughts, it can yield desirable outcomes in character development.

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