We seldom think of our children when we think about discipleship. We think:
- bible studies
- evangelism training
- Sunday School
- women mentoring other women.
But the image of our children sitting at the kitchen table or out walking having a conversation with Mom doesn’t generally pop into our heads.
How DO we disciple our children?
Years ago a pastor I knew said, “If I had 6 guys following me around all the time, ministering where I ministered, serving where I served, learning from everything I did, you all would think I was so spiritual! But when I have my 6 children doing those very things, you think, ‘What? Couldn’t you find a babysitter?'”
The #1 way is simply through living our lives transparently before them. They know EXACTLY what we are made of. Nothing escapes their notice of our character (whether it lines up with the words coming out of our mouths), our loves and passions. This will lead us to ask the very difficult but vital question:
Is my life worthy of imitation?
“Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Phil 3:17-20
We need to be following Paul’s example in his faith and obedience, sacrifice and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus.
Before we can truly teach effectively, we need to learn to LIVE the faith.
Not perfectly (we will always have struggles in our lives and areas where we need to grow), but humbly and sincerely. Sometimes we need to be just one step ahead of our children. We need to learn to live honestly, confessing our failings and speedily asking for forgiveness when necessary. We can say, “I’m really convicted in this area and am striving to surrender it to the Lord. BUT while I’m learning I will also be helping YOU to grow in this area too. It IS possible for us to learn and grow together.”
Some of my sweetest times of fellowship and discipleship with my children are when I’m humbling myself before them. THIS is a critical component of discipleship, not trying to be SUPERIOR. When we are humble and contrite, living transparently and needy for the Lord’s transformation – THIS is where real life and strength and discipleship can thrive and flourish. THIS is where the Holy Spirit can work powerfully in our lives and in our children’s lives. And we will find our children LOVING to be with us – because they see us real and human, just like them. Yet they will see the trust and reliance on God’s power in our lives and that instills in them HOPE. And hope does not disappoint! (Rom 5:3-5)
All Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB.