“The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice” (Proverbs 23:24).

When my wife and I decided to have children we came up with a single fixed rule: we might not win every battle but we must win every war. There has never been an army on this planet that has won every battle, and there has never been a set of parents that have won every battle either. It’s been said, “A bulldog can whip a skunk but is it worth it?” Winning every battle is not worth it. Countless lives have been carelessly lost during wars by engaging in battles that should have never taken place. However, you must win every war!

There was a time in Scripture where the right side ended up losing some battles. Judges 19-21 tells of such an event. The tribe of Benjamin had attempted an atrocious act of immorality against a Levite and ultimately murdered his concubine. These people had grown every bit as bad as Sodom. The Levite called the Benjamites out on their sin and contacted all of the other tribes of Israel to do something about it. Judges 20:2 states, “And the chief of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword.”

So Israel, with its 400,000 men, takes on Benjamin with their army of just over 26,000 men (20:15). Slam dunk, right? No, the Benjamites won the first battle and killed 22,000 men. Then Israel went against them again with the blessing of the Lord in Judges 20:23 and the result was similar—18,000 men lost their lives. Israel had the blessing of God and yet they lost two battles. Israel’s cause was the righteous cause, but nevertheless they lost those battles.

Imagine what would have happened to the nation of Israel if the story had ended here. Can you conceive what the consequences of walking away would have been? Immorality, chaos, and division would have ruled the day in Israel. The Israelites’ righteous cause could not be abandoned; they continued and finally won the war.

There is usually a crisis moment that takes place in any war that will prove the eventual winner. One such crisis moment for my wife and I took place with our third daughter when she was about four years old. We were out for the afternoon playing a game of putt-putt golf. We had been having a good time until we arrived at the eighteenth hole. My wife and I, along with our two older daughters, had holed out and gotten our balls out of the cup. Our youngest daughter finally putted her ball into the hole. My wife asked her to remove the ball from the hole and she pretty much ignored the request. She asked her again to take the ball out of the hole. This time the command was met with some type of dance as she again ignored my wife’s voice.

Rather than say, “Get the ball out of the hole for Mommy and I’ll get you an ice cream,” as some of today’s parents may negotiate with their child, she insisted that she remove the ball from the cup. The nonverbal, defiant look of our daughter was an emphatic “Absolutely not!” This had now become a war. And by the way, if you lose one war to one of your children, they will know they can beat you again.

It was made clear to my daughter that we would not be leaving the putt-putt golf course until she removed the ball from the hole. While I took our older two daughters and kept them busy, my wife and youngest daughter sat on the ground next to the hole until she would act in obedience. So there they were as several groups came through the eighteenth hole, removing the ball until the group finished the hole and then putting the ball back into the cup, so our daughter could remove it herself. My wife encouraged her to remove the ball each time someone played through. After one-and-a-half hours, our daughter finally gave up, lost her war, and removed the ball from the hole.

By God’s grace, though we have had a few battles over the years, we never had another war with our youngest daughter. She is currently nineteen years old and walking with Jesus!

To Think and Pray About…

  1. The difference between how I think about a battle and how I think about a war is vitally important. How might this apply in my family situation with respect to the discipline of my children?
  2. God helping me, I determine to gently yet firmly bring up my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
  3. Thanks be to God, in whose strength I can do all things!

This chapter was written by Ken Varney.

This chapter was taken from The Extraordinary Father. CLICK HERE for more information about the book.


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Harold Vaughan

View posts by Harold Vaughan
Evangelist Harold Vaughan is the founder of Christ Life Ministries, Inc. To date, his ministry has led him to preach in forty-eight states and many foreign countries. Click on "ABOUT" in the menu bar to learn more about Harold.
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