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The Ticket Journey to Obedience

The Ticket Journey to Obedience

Written by Krista Smith.

If there's one thing I pray for on repeat, it's, “Help me, Good Lord, to raise children who’ll follow you with abandon…without losing my mind…or getting too many more grey hairs…Amen.”

There are days when it seems like I can’t go 15 minutes without a rebuke or a correction. (You know the days.) I'd rather figure out what is going on in the hearts of my kids than just "get by" or make it to the end of the day. I'd like to lead my children in the way they should go--to find a salve to their souls and to mine.

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I attended a Bible study a few years back led by a local pastor’s wife who had successfully raised three beautiful children, all of whom were passionately serving Christ as adults. She mentioned having used The Ticket Journey to Obedience and I thought That’s it, Lord! I think this is just what our family needs!

Here’s a peek at how this method has helped my husband and I mold the character of our children while allowing the Spirit to flourish—and how it has helped me keep our homeschool day on track even when a strong-will rears its head, threatening to throw our day into a drawn-out hostage negotiation.

This is meant to help our children gain personal accountability for their own thoughts, actions, and words while helping them seek God’s much better way. We can’t manage their behavior for them forever. They’ll have to own their actions someday--but this can help!
The Ticket Journey to Obedience

Creating a Ticket Journey

STEP 1: Make up a journey sheet for each child listing both the rules and the consequences for breaking those rules. As the parent, you choose what these consequences will be and should be prepared to follow through with said consequences—EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Consistency is key.

Our kids write out a scripture (which speaks to whatever their particular struggle of the moment is), 5 times on a sheet of paper in a quiet room. We encourage them to pray through the Scripture every time they finish writing a line, earnestly asking Jesus to help them.

STEP 2: List one skill you want to work on. When your child has gotten sufficiently better at said skill, keep it on the list but print out a new version with a second, then third and fourth skill until over several months’s-time you have a good representation of what is expected of your children in your home every day. These should be goals that are attainable given the child’s age and development. These should not be nitpicky things…they should be character-shaping things.

I then list two Scriptures directly associated with obedience. These Scriptures are good reminders for everyone to see every time we walk past the fridge.

STEP 3: Determine how many tickets you want your kids to start the morning with and set them out in a designated spot. Every morning, JOYFULLY read the sheet from start to finish with your child(ren) so they know what is expected of them that day.

Our tickets are simple pieces of paper that have been laminated for durability. I've written one child's name on the front and attached a magnet to the back of each one. My kids each get four to start the morning and then I "reset" the tickets after lunch because everyone needs a little grace!

STEP 4: Write out specific Scriptures on 3x5 notecards to go with each of the character traits you are shaping and place them nearby. Be careful not to use Scripture as a battle-ax, but rather as honey-to-the-tongue or a tool to lead your child into a closer relationship with their loving Father. For instance, instead of using Proverbs 12:22, which essentially says that God hates lying lips, try using Ephesians 4:25, "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." While both verses are true, the latter encourages a child in the way he should go.

Now you’re ready to start your day!

The Ticket Journey to Obedience

Implementing a Ticket Journey

Here's how you can put a Ticket Journey into action each day:

Let’s say your son is working on not shouting at his sister.

He shouts at his sister.

Give him a verbal warning reminding him of what is expected.

If he shouts at his sister again, bring him to the journey sheet where you've placed the rules and the tickets and have him do the following:

  • Remove a ticket and hand it to you.
  • Read the consequence section (STEP 1).
  • Read the rule he broke (STEP 2).

Finally, sit him down with a piece of paper, a pencil, and the Scripture index card that corresponds to the behavior or skill he's struggling with. Instruct him to write the Scripture five times, praying through each one and asking Jesus to help him and forgive him.

When he is done, encourage him to apologize to anyone he needs to and then move on. Don’t beat any dead horses. There's no need for 20-minute lectures. Let God’s Word and the Holy Spirit’s conviction do the heavy lifting.

Is this a magical cure? No. I’ve had a child lose all the morning tickets in the span of 2 minutes! True story. Is it a worthy endeavor anyhow? You bet.

I cannot tell you what a change this has made in our family. I no longer have the proverbial monkey on my back. If I’m more miffed at my son's behavior than he is, then I’m “wearing the monkey." The Ticket Journey helps get the monkey off my back and onto his. He knows the rules. He can choose to follow them or not. And while I can’t make that choice for him, I can calmly walk him to the fridge and lead him lovingly in the way he should go (Prov 22:6).

The Ticket Journey has helped to make our homeschool day feel less like a battle field and more like a character-development petri-dish. Loving discipline--leading a child’s heart into the hands of the Father--has been so much better than anything else we’ve tried. God is answering my daily desperate prayer. I've not lost my mind yet. And the grey hairs? Well, I suppose there's always Clairol.

To download your free

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Krista Smith is blessed to be the mother of three beautiful children and is privileged to homeschool them using an eclectic variety of methods. She has a deep and abiding love for tan-colored coffee, spending time with her family, and seeing children find their forever homes through adoption. But above all of these things, Krista is, first and foremost, a lover and follower of Jesus Christ. So, may the Lord and His Gospel get every ounce of honor, glory, and credit for anything she writes, says, or does.


  1. So what do you do once all their tickets are taken away? An even stronger consequence than writing out the scripture? What happens if they keep all of their tickets for the day? Is this a reward system too? What about the younger child - would this work for them too (younger being that they cannot read yet)? What would you do for them?
    This system sounds great but you've left me with many questions. Is there a place I can read about this in more detail or can you answer my questions please? I really need something like this to help me help my kiddos.

    1. For every family this will look different, but for ours, when all of the tickets are lost the child loses 1/2 hour of screens on Friday (their only day to do screens!). Some families choose a time out, or an extra chore or 1 hour earlier to bed. All very subjective to what is considered "commodity" to your child! And it might be different for each of your children (which is why I have a sheet for each child instead of a family chart).

      We used this system on our son when he was about 2.5 and up and it was very effective for our strong willed boy ;) I would read the chart to him, and instead of writing he did a timeout (1 min per year of age) and then a longer timeout when tickets were lost.

      I would be happy to answer any other questions I can! Blessings and I hope it helps your family as much as it has helped ours!

    2. Forgot to mention, I also use a simple chart for when I catch my child doing good and honorable things or having a great attitude about something hard. I find that I am a lot more prone to admonish my kids for misbehavior than I am to celebrate Christ-likeness, and I wanted to change that. This has helped enormously (in tandem with the ticket journey) but that would be another post entirely!

    3. Thanks for weighing in, Krista! Everyone's final consequence will be different based on their family's needs. Loss of screen time is a great idea for some!

  2. I'm disappointed to see such a great idea and no printable! :)

    1. Yes, and I tossed around the idea of doing a blank sheet with just the design elements present and I still could if there's interest (editable PDF, maybe?), but I decided that because there was so much individuality to it it might be easier for parents to just type something up in Word that fit their family. There was no printable at the Bible Study either, so I just took copious notes about what the gal said she did and then went home and whipped up what you see above for our family (on Illustrator...I have a design background...which helps but isn't necessary to make a great looking chart for your family!)

    2. I don't think a printable would be possible, Amy, because every family's needs are so different. Your child will probably struggle with something different than my child and need different verses. Your house rules are probably different than mine too. The concept has to be adapted for each individual family's needs.

    3. I would love a blank editable with the design elements. It would take me forever to make it look that good. We could also print it and laminate it to use dry erase marker. I would probably then get a paper and label it Things we have learned to do... then add the rules to that. Like "We know how to use our quiet voices in the house, ect. Empowering my kiddos to know they have worked hard and are capable of doing those things.

  3. In what ways does your life show that you are living for God’s purposes and seeking His approval rather than the world’s? Why is it difficult at times to leave behind your “old life” and step out in faith? When you pray, ask sincerely that God will steer you away from foolish choices and self-centeredness and take you on the ride of your life!

  4. Would you also make a downloadable for a filled out one with your answers in there? I like what I see and I really would like to copy it and tweak it. Thank you for sharing this!

  5. Hello,

    The link is not taking me to any printable. Can you please help?

    1. Sorry about that. Try this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1WDgL6irVVD7Z9DHCR_gfjRGgBqtPMRrN/view?usp=sharing