Understanding Self-Control

“You can either calm yourself down our I’ll calm you down.” Ever heard these words or better yet said them yourself? Truth be told we want our kids to have self-control but it seems we’re engaged in an up-hill battle in today’s culture. Furthermore, if we’re brutally honest we are skeptical teaching our kids because we struggle with it ourselves. Unfortunately the very phrase self-control sounds like something no one in their right mind would want to engage in. After all who would want to stop doing the fun stuff? Well as adults we know that no matter what the culture says, self-control is actually a good thing for all of us. Since we have to do it, let’s look at some principles that might help to re-frame it to a more joyful part of life.

First, knowledge and self-control go together. We add self-control to our knowledge (2 Peter 1:6) because as we have gained understanding about living in-step with God, we also realize that doing so brings greater joy in life. It does not necessarily mean life is easier but it certainly mean a more purposeful and fulfilling life. The more we learn about God and His plan the more we learn that self-control in this life is about becoming more like Christ. This is the goal of life – to become more like Him – to grow in holiness.

Second, self-control also includes learning to have the proper mental perspective. We overcome fear in life’s struggles through having love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). God did not intend for us to fear life’s struggles and situations but rather he gives us power and self-control. Some versions refer to this self-control as having a sound mind. With the proper perspective we learn not to fear man but rather to maintain self-control mentally and behaviorally. This in addition to what we’ve already discussed is about learning to live a life of holiness – to become more like Him.

Now that you have some new perspectives for looking at self-control as a positive rather than a negative, let’s look at some practical application steps. Lack of self-control in both adult and children might be the result of a wrong perspective. Learning to look at this concept as God sees it helps us to put this characteristic in the proper perspective. In other words, self-control has a point. One that is practical and purposeful. Now, as parents, let’s not short change what our kids are capable of. Teach them these points so that they may develop a positive view of self-control rather than a negative one. Finally, learning self-control is about much more than controlling behavior. It includes knowledge – learning about God’s Word – and letting God renew one’s mind. Sometimes we get so caught up in focusing on the behavior of self-control we forget to think about the importance of reading God’s Word and letting Him renew the way we think about life.

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