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On a recent trip home from a vacation, our 3 year-old and 6 year-old sat happily chatting in the van behind me. I wasn’t paying too much attention since I was busy entertaining the baby. And suddenly something caught my ear….’Nadia,’ said our 3 year-old, Nick. ‘I’m going to say the verse and then you say it after me.’ ‘Okay,’ she said. He then proceeded to tell her his version of a verse that we had taught him and she repeated it back.
After ‘teaching’ her the verse, he said, ‘Now close your eyes and I am going to pray.’ After a brief time of the cutest prayer I’ve ever heard, they began to sing worship songs. I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I realized that something we were doing was rubbing off. He was teaching her the Scripture that we had taught him.
If you really think about it, you have been teaching your child since he was born. From the minute he was first placed in your arms he didn’t know how to do anything.
You have had to teach him everything from eating, to walking and talking and everything in between. It would be ridiculous to think that you could just sit him down and never teach him to do anything. He needs you and he needs your instruction.
So when I say to disciple your child, I mean to teach his heart to obey God. And more specifically to use Scripture to do it.
WHAT EXACTLY IS DISCIPLESHIP, ANYWAY?
Maybe you’re scratching your head wondering, what exactly does it mean to disciple my children?
That’s a completely fair question!
In a nutshell, God has given us children AND, He has given us pretty specific instructions to train our children in the way that they should go. (Proverbs 22:6)
So what exactly does that mean?
Simply put, discipleship means to intentionally pour the Word of God into your children and to teach them to obey it. (Become a follower of Christ)
It’s more than just taking your kids to church on Sunday. It means you are making the Bible an integral part of their daily lives. And you are always talking about God. Deuteronomy 6:6-8 gives us a pretty good framework of what discipleship actually is.
‘And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they should be as frontlets between your eyes. Deuteronomy 6:6-8 (ESV)
You might be wondering what exactly a ‘frontlet’ is. That’s a very good question! The Israelites were commanded by God to keep the verses that He told them were important before them at all times. In other words, always have them on your mind.
But being the crazy group of people that they were, they took it literally and actually wrote the verses on scrolls and then carried them around attached to their heads. Kind of funny how they acted!
Thankfully God is not asking us to tattoo these words across our forehead or carry them around on some kind of a headband.
But what He is asking us to do is to constantly have His Word before us every day and in turn, to teach it to our kids.
Basically He just wants us to always think about Scripture first and apply it anywhere we can in our life and in the lives of our kids.
As you go about your daily business, you can constantly teach your kids Scripture.
Discipleship is one of the ways you can be sure you are passing on Godly values to your kids in an intentional way.
WHY SHOULD YOU DISCIPLE YOUR KIDS?
God is pretty clear when He tells us that it is our responsibility as parents to teach our kids His ways. Let’s take a look at Ephesians 6:4
‘Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 (ESV)
Parents are the ones who are primarily responsible for the discipleship of their children. Church is a wonderful supplement to what we as parents can do in the home, but it should never be relied on as the sole source of discipleship. As a parent, you need to take an active role in bringing up your child in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
It is also a good way to keep your child in the Word as an adult. (Of course, there is no guarantee) By teaching your kids to make God a part of everyday at a young age, you are setting them up to stay on track when they leave your home.
IF YOU DON’T TEACH YOUR KIDS, THE WORLD WILL
Or worse yet, if we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to.
Be an active participant in your kids’ lives and don’t just sit back and let them learn from the culture around them.
Kids are sponges. And good or bad, they learn what is put before them. Now, more than ever, your kids are faced with choices that you and I never had to think about as children.
You need to make sure your kids are prepared and ready to handle some of the decisions they will need to make. Discipleship is one of the ways that you can be sure that you are passing on Godly values to your kids in an intentional way. Don’t let the world be your kids’ teacher.
It is so important that your kids know what Scripture says. And discipleship is simply an intentional way to teach them.
(Let me add a side note to encourage you: You may feel inadequate or feel like you ‘don’t know it all.’ Let me reassure you that nobody does. We are all learning. It’s completely OK to learn right alongside your kids and even let them know that you don’t know. It really is OK. I promise! 🙂 )
YOU WILL PRODUCE A GENERATIONAL FAITH – A LEGACY THAT LASTS
Did you know that the only thing you can take with you to Heaven is other people?
Think with me for a moment about the descendants that you will have 200 years from now. Yes, someday you will be a grandma!
The only way that you will ever have an influence over them will be through your children.
It’s a crazy thing to think that I might be able to influence my great-great-great grandchildren by doing a good job of discipling my own children right now. The goal of a Christian mom is to pass her faith on from one generation to the next. And that starts with discipleship. Right now!
BE CAREFUL NOT TO LET BUSYNESS OR PERFECTION GET IN THE WAY
I understand that life gets busy and adding in one more thing can seem overwhelming, but let me encourage you that discipling your children is something that will have lasting and valuable, not to mention, eternal results.
Please don’t let busyness get in the way. Do your best to make it a priority to intentionally disciple your kids on a regular basis.
On the same token, don’t feel like you can’t disciple your kids until you have the perfect setup or the perfect materials, or the perfect time. (I talk about this as a hindrance to your own Quiet Time in a post that you might enjoy reading.)
WHEN SHOULD YOU DISCIPLE YOUR KIDS?
There are really two ways to look at this. As I said earlier, discipleship is something that takes place everyday throughout the day, but it is also appropriate to find a more formal time to teach your kids as well.
We need to diligently teach our children about God and His word all day everyday.
That means you are constantly going to look for opportunities to teach your child. Casual conversation is one of the best ways to continually have God before you.
For example, a simple lesson could go something like this:
As you look out your front window with your child you might see a bird in the tree. Watch the bird for a while and explain to your child that there is actually a verse in the Bible about birds. Matthew says,
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26 (ESV)
Then explain to him that you don’t have to worry about anything because God said He provides for all of our needs, just like He provides for the birds. You can tell him that whenever he sees a bird he can be reminded that God takes care of all of his needs and he doesn’t have to worry.
As you can see, discipleship may or may not be formal. There are many ways to do it.
And then there is the formal side of discipling your kids.
The answer to when you should disciple your kids is really up to you.
Discipleship is a way you can pass on Godly values to your kids in an intentional way.
What works best with your family? Ideally it should be at least once a week, but if you choose a more relaxed informal format, it may not be at the same time every week. Of course you should be doing something to disciple your kids on a daily basis like I mentioned above.
You decide what works best for you. It could be added as a part of your homeschool routine or maybe you would like to take time apart from school to do it.
When you do it isn’t as important as the fact that you actually do it.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
This answer to that is as multifaceted as the question is.
You can study a book of the Bible together with your child. Don’t worry if you have deficiencies. You can learn together. Just go through the Scripture and talk about it. See if there are any words or phrases your child doesn’t understand. Research them together. And then, teach him how he can apply it to his life.
There are several books that have been written which would be good options for you to do together. Here are a few options (affiliate link)
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- Becoming a Girl of Grace – Catherine Bird
- Building Circles of Grace A Joint Bible Study For Tween Girls & Their Moms- Catherine Bird
- Teaching Kids Authentic Worship – How to Keep Them Close to God for Life – Kathleen Chapman
- Kids Experiencing God At Home – Kim Blackaby
If you don’t want to go through a book, you could take one verse each time you meet and talk about it together.
And please be sure to pray with your kids. It is so important to teach them to go to God with EVERYTHING! Make prayer the center of your discipleship.
MY BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!
Since the answer to the question, ‘What should I do for discipleship’ is so varied, I have asked several other Godly Christian women to partner with me on a project that will help you have some options for discipleship.
I am so excited and pleased to announce that I am now adding the DISCIPLESHIP CORNER to All Natural Joy!
It has taken months of prayer, planning and hard work and I am so excited to finally tell you!
My friend, it is my heart’s desire to help encourage you and teach you how to disciple your children.
God has impressed on me, the desire to leave a legacy of faith in my kids and I want to help you do the same in yours as well.
Every Monday for the next several months, you can count on a new featured godly mama teaching you how she disciples her family.
The ages of the kids they teach will vary as well as the techniques and tactics they use. Some families have more formal forms of discipleship while others have a more relaxed approach.
It is my prayer that you will be able to glean from each one of the examples I give and begin to disciple your children as well.
I will be providing resources as quickly as I can make them available. I’ll include checklists and ways that you can make discipling your kids a joy.
Please be sure to check back regularly as I add new content and make the DISCIPLESHIP CORNER a place where you can count on finding the tools that you need to disciple your family.
In it, I’ll also be sharing how my husband and I disciple our seven kids, so stay tuned!
I’d like to invite you to join me in my new discipleship series. Together we can grow as we teach our kids how to love God with their hearts, minds, and soul.
I am praying for you and your families that God would help you build a legacy of faith starting in your children RIGHT NOW!!