My son and his entire team that’s traveling to Zambia this summer had to clean toilets this week. The team is training for the mission field at the Lord’s Boot Camp in Merritt Island, Florida. And, as a consequence for being the messiest of five teams, his group won the “Piggy Award,” and was assigned toilet duty.
I laughed out loud when I saw a webcast and learned of my son’s dubious award. Somehow, it seemed poetic justice for a child whose room is routinely carpeted with clothing. I called my sister, whose similarly cleanliness-challenged child, happens to be on the same team. We enjoyed a good laugh and expressed our hope that the consequence might encourage our children to mend their ways.
Imagine, then, my surprise when two days later, I learned that my son and his entire team had been subjected to what many believe is abuse! You see, some students at a school in the Bronx had to clean toilets for misbehaving in class. And, when their parents found out, they made such a stink the incident made national news.
One parent labeled the punishment “physical abuse”; several called it “degrading.” A classmate said, “It was disrespectful toward the students.” And, 82-percent of respondents to a New York Daily News poll say they don’t believe toilet duty is a suitable punishment – even if a child has been naughty.
School officials now are investigating the incident. Education Department spokesperson Marge Feinberg says, “If the current allegations are proved true, appropriate actions will be taken.”
What actions? I think whoever administered the punishment should be commended! Obviously, these parents think their children are above cleaning toilets – which makes me wonder how the janitors must feel. But, chances are, this entitled, haughty attitude is what landed these kids in trouble to begin with. I think assigning them toilet duty actually was an act of kindness, designed to drive foolishness from these children’s hearts.
Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Similarly, I Peter 5:5 says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
I honestly feel sorry for these students in the Bronx. Their parents and a misguided Education Department seem bent on shielding them from discipline that might actually make them into productive citizens. Those on my son’s missions team, however, seem to have survived their “abuse” just fine. In fact, the following day, they were given the “Godliness Award” for cleaning the toilets without grumbling or complaining. And, in just 24 hours, his team went from being the messiest team to the cleanest team. You see, discipline, even toilet duty – when embraced as an opportunity for growth – can produce amazing results.
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