A mother of three gorgeous young children was recently chatting with me and asking me how to go about discipling her children in the Christian faith. As I was sharing with her my experience and asking her some questions, her youngest daughter came and asked her about sharing a biscuit with another girl. The mother asked her a question and it became apparent that her daughter had just lied about what she had done. The daughter realised what had happened and confessed that she had lied. The daughter then went on to apologise to the mum about lying and repented of it. The mum then asked her what she could do next time she was in the same situation.
Before my very eyes, this mum was discipling her daughter. Honesty. Confession. Repentance. Character.
Sure, there are a number of practical suggestions that you can implement as a parent, but the main focus, I feel, is helping our children develop a love for God, for others and for themselves. Jesus’ answer in the Gospels about the greatest commandment is something that we need to keep at the forefront of our mind in relation to this. In Matthew 22: 37-39 Jesus replied to an expert in the law about the greatest commandment that we should be living out: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’.”
I love the verses in Deuteronomy where Moses has summoned all of Israel and shares what God has said to him, especially Deuteronomy 6:5-7 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Discipleship is a lifelong process. Not a one-off event. It is a way of life. It is modelling our life off Jesus. It is not focussing so much on things we need to do, but who we are becoming. Sure, the things we do all help and refine us in the process of who we are becoming, but if we just focus on the doing and the parts of the doing, then we miss the whole point of relationship with Jesus and allowing Him to be the refiner.
I believe one of the greatest gifts that we can give our children is to not compartmentalise the gospel and our life. In my teenage and young adult years, the emphasis was on having a daily ‘quiet time’ (Bible reading, prayer & journaling) every morning or else we had ‘failed’ at being a Christian. Thus, there were many of my friends and I who felt guilty a lot of the time because we had missed our daily Quiet Time. What a sense of relief I remember feeling once on hearing a sermon on the fact that we shouldn’t view it as a necessity but as a pleasure. Father God was rejoicing every time we stopped and spent time with Him, but more importantly, He wanted to share the whole of life with me, not just those 15-30 minutes of a morning. Sure, a Quiet Time is so helpful and fantastic, and sets an amazing base for the rest of the day but as soon as we make it a ‘must do’ and tick the box that we have done that, we run the risk of it becoming separate from the rest of our life and compartmentalising our spiritual life, and thus, our relationship with God.
When it comes down to it, we are already discipling our kids. Through our everyday life and what we model, what we say and do or don’t say and don’t do, is picked up and integrated into our children’s lives. Whether it is great, good or not helpful stuff, it all goes in. Whether we like it or not, everything we say and do is being examined by those closest to us and ‘believed’ to be the way to respond in similar situations in the future.
Thus, the first step in discipling our kids in the Christian faith needs to be us becoming sold out passionate sons and daughters of the Most High God who love Father God, Holy Spirit and Jesus passionately and are becoming renewed in the process.
Thus, it is our way of life. Our doing. Our thinking. Our believing. Our being. Our identity.
Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to flesh out discipling our children in the Christian faith and some practical tips.
This week, though, I encourage you to ‘mull’ over these questions that I am ‘mulling’ over in my own life:
- When my children look at me, who, and what, do they see?
- Where is God evident, or not evident, in my life?
- What am I modelling in the whole of my life?
- My attitudes
- My words and how I speak
- My actions
- My time management
- My passion and love for God and how it is displayed and growing
- My use of resources
- What is the fruit of my disciple making in my children in their attitudes, words and actions?
- What fruit am I wanting to see that I haven’t yet seen?
- Have I even written down the fruit I want to see rather than just have a vague idea in my head?
Have a great week with your family.