We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine

A Hardened Heart and Music Lessons

I once received a letter from a desperate mother who was dealing with an 11-year old son who she described as hardened and rebellious.

The mother wrote to me and mentioned one particular incident involving her son’s decision in wanting to learn violin. She was able to find a violin teacher who was able to start the lessons the very next morning. Feeling unprepared to start so soon, the child, in a fit of unrestrained anger, yelled at his mother, telling her to cancel the meeting. After cancelling the meeting, she then calmly talked with him about his need to earn the privilege of learning violin.

Here’s what I shared with this mom:

The way you handled everything was perfect. Continue to be consistent in your disciplining attitude while at the same time not allowing your leverage to turn into a hammer over his head. Your hand of chastisement must also be a loving one, turning his heart toward God’s design for living in grace and truth.

Once he starts the lessons, you will want to make sure that you no longer use his lessons as a punishment. He now needs to be responsible to his teacher. However, make sure that he and his teacher understand that in the future, if he responds in the same way concerning his lessons, you will have to cancel violin permanently. If there is a cost incurred in the last cancellation, have him pay for the teacher’s loss of time.

Try to communicate both the rewards and consequences with a loving spirit so he knows that you would not want to do this unless absolutely necessary. Lastly, remember that mercy is the best tool to soften a hardened heart. It is the goodness of God that leads to repentance.