Discipline, behavioural management, or correction – whatever you call it, it is not always easy. Whether you’re a parent teaching your child or a leader addressing an employee or group member, it can be tough.
Reading Daniel 3 today I noticed that King Nebuchadnezzar used wisdom in how he disciplined Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Sam). While King Neb was a temperamental man and I wouldn’t recommend we copy most of what he did, in this instance he used 8 steps that I have used in behavioural management situations myself and found quite productive.
So grab your Bible, open it up to Daniel 3 and follow in verses 13 to 30 and let’s explore the discipline lessons from King Neb:
- Address the incident immediately, while the incident is fresh in everyone’s mind. V 13
- He checked that the dobber had the story right and that Sam had actually committed the crime. Sometimes people (not just kids) will come running to you and tell you someone else has done the wrong thing. Don’t always assume the dobber has it right. Always check their story. Maybe they misunderstood. Maybe they are mean and just want to get the other person into trouble. Maybe they even committed the sin themselves – “Mum, Johnny broke your favourite vase” they lie, not letting you know that they were throwing the vase to Johnny and he just didn’t catch it. V 14
- Check Sam knows why he’s in trouble. Sometimes people don’t know why they are being yelled at or punished. I’ve had kids who weren’t even aware they were hitting others and here they are getting in trouble for it. (Really, they didn’t know they were hitting, I think it’s such a normal part of their lives they don’t notice!) Sometimes people just don’t know that certain behaviour is inappropriate in this situation. King Neb checks with Sam in v 14 that they know why they are in trouble.
- Repeat the expectations (rules). Next King Neb v 15 explains what the desired behaviour is – when you hear music, bow down and worship. Keep it simple, keep it clear.
- Outline the consequences for disobedience. King Neb couldn’t have been clearer. Worship the image or get thrown into a burning fiery furnace. V 15. Once you’ve made the consequences clear, the person involved then has the choice of obeying or receiving the consequences. However, I don’t recommend fire has a punishment.
- Give Sam a chance to reply. I’ve found that sometimes hearing from the person involved can totally change the outcome of a discipline moment. You may see that they have a repentant heart or rebellious heart. You may hear ignorance of expectations or peer pressure or of others involved. By taking a moment to listen to them you have a better chance of getting things right, even if their reply is not what you’re expecting. V 16-17.
- Follow through on the consequences. King Neb could have been friends with Sam. Chapter 2 tells us that he had recently promoted them. He definitely knew them. This may be why their disobedience made him so mad, maybe he expected his friends to back him up. Now he had to follow through. This is often where we get scared and back down and let discipline slide. By keeping our promise on disciple, we are showing that we care enough about the person to adjust their behaviour. V 20
- Sometimes you make mistakes. As hard as you try, sometimes we get things wrong when it comes to behavioural management. Maybe we could have had more grace or followed through or listened or questioned the dobber or set clearer expectations or kept our own emotions in check. Maybe we had the wrong expectations in the first place like King Neb. When you’ve made a mistake admit it to yourself and, if appropriate, apologise to those involved. Be careful in what you do next, in making restitution or repenting. King Neb went a little too far on this one, threatening death to anyone who spoke against Sam’s God. V 29. If you admit you’ve made a mistake then it leads you to doing better next time.
Hopefully these 8 steps can help you in your behavioural management endeavours.
Do you have any tips for discipline? Share your wisdom in the comments below.