Back when our church had a summer day camp with 150 children a day from K-8th grade with children from all kinds of homes, rule breaking was rampant. How can we get these kids under control?
We resolved to do better the next week. We started each of the remaining camp weeks with a review of all the rules. We would put the rules into little skits. We made attractive posters with creative drawings. But we still had behavior problems. We realized that it was no longer an awareness problem, it was a heart problem.
We were expecting good behavior from unconverted sinners and expecting Christian kids to behave well without giving them the resources needed to successfully live the Christian life. We regretted the fruit on the tree of the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-24). We were hacking at the branches rather than attacking the root. 
We started focusing on discipling the campers, starting with sharing the good news of the gospel of Christ. We started to share with all of the campers that we all had a sin nature that naturally rebels against rules. There’s that inner part of us that screams inside, “I want what I want when I want it!” Even us as leaders struggle daily against this battle inside of each of us: For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are unable to do whatever you want.” Gal. 5:17
 
Slowly students began to awaken to the Gospel and to the principle that Jesus is the only one who can successfully live the Christian life. But He gives us His Holy Spirit to live this life through us and to produce the good fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22)
 
We began to train them to discern — “Who’s in the Driver’s Seat?” When Self was driving the car, it was almost a guaranteed smash up. With the Holy Spirit in the driver’s seat, usually the children had a much better outcome. 
 
Could we throw the rules away? No, but the focus was changed. As students began to trust in Jesus for salvation, they also learned to lean into the Holy Spirit to live through them. Behavior began to change and rules took second place. Why? Galatians 5:16 tells us: But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” With the Holy Spirit in charge, He would direct the behavior in the ways that each child should go. 
 
Were the kids still normal with typical shortcomings? Absolutely. My daughters still remember one little boy who continually was in trouble, though improving. One day when he was back in the office being confronted by one of them in their role as a senior leader, she asked, “What happened out there?” He replied, “I think I ran out of self control.”
 
This can be said for all of us. There are days when we run out of self control. But the principles of the Christian life have not changed. We return to the discipline of confession, repentance and surrender. We come back to the basics of asking the Holy Spirit to step into this area of our lives. We walk forward in prayerful remembrance of our need and our tendency to act out of the sin nature. We rest in God to give us victory. 
 
If we each need this at whatever stage of adulthood and spiritual maturity, let’s be sure to give this to our children. Let’s give them the same tools that we need every day and not just the rules for their behavior. Let us help our children to “walk in the Spirit” and to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires. God’s best, Christopher
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