"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 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 shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the dorrposts of your house and on your gates."--Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Here we are, a new month...which means a new series! Each month, I focus on a topic in one of five different areas:
- Spiritual life and growth
- Homemaking, and
- Learning at home
This past month, I had the opportunity to share a workshop at our church's parenting conference. (News flash: I have made the talk available to newsletter subscribers! Not only is the recording of the talk made available, but also the handout and additional material we could not fit into the session, including a book list, writing a vision statement for your family, and lots more! You can sign up in the boxes to the right and I'll send you the link.). I felt like I was in my element. I love encouraging parents as they seek to disciple their children.
For this month's series, I am going to take the second half of my workshop and expand it in more detail. There was so much I wanted to say but had to leave out. We'll be talking about the stages of discipleship, building biblical foundations, helping our kids cultivate spiritual disciplines, raising men and women, helping our kids evaluate our culture, and tons more. Even each of these can probably be a series in itself. And maybe they will some day.
But for today, I wanted to set the groundwork for the series. I did this using Deuteronomy 6:4-9 in the recorded workshop, so I'm not going to reiterate it here. But even so, there are five things to remember as we seek to raise our children in the ways of the Lord.
First, the discipleship of our children is our job as parents. It is not the church's job. It is not the Sunday school teacher's job. It is not the youth pastor's job. It is yours. It is mine. The church helps to reinforce the work, but it is not our substitute.
Second, we need to start with ourselves. Are His commandments on our hearts first? Are we living as disciples of the Lord, seeking to flesh out His life in the ordinary routines that make up our days? As a parent, I want myself to first be what I want to see in my kids.
Third, have a teachable and humble heart. This is a point that closely follows the first. As parents, we often fall into two traps. Some parents fear that they do not know enough to disciple their children, thinking that they need to reach some mystical level of understanding before they can do so. The other trap is thinking that we do know it all...and then come off as condescending. Neither traps are beneficial.
The truth is, there is no possible way we will know everything. Only God can. We can learn a lot, but we will not know it all. Our job is to share what we do know. And if we don't know it, we can find out.
Kids are bound to ask us questions that will stump us. Just recently, my son asked me how there could be light when the sun wasn't created until the fourth day of creation. I sure didn't know! But in about five minutes the two of us were able to do a little research and consider a few possibilities. We still don't know the real answer, but it sure is a lot more than we knew before!
So don't be afraid when your kids ask hard questions. I just admit that I don't know, and then we both try to find out together. They learn how to research, I learn something new, and we spend time together. It's a win-win situation!
Fourth, be diligent. Discipleship is not something we hope will happen. We need to know where we want to go and then effort needs to be applied. Opportunities abound if we are willing to look for them---and usually in the times we least expect it. Sometimes it will come at the price of other things, for discipleship always takes time.
Which leads us to the fifth point---make it a priority. With all the competitors for our attention today, unless we make it more important than anything else, it will just get lost in the day. That is a big reason why I homeschool. Even with my kids at home all day, I still miss so many moments because I let my plans take over.
In a nutshell, discipleship happens when we cultivate a disciple's heart ourselves, seeking to grow in the ways of God. As He changes us and take on His heart and priorities, He also equips us to disciple our children, pointing out all the possibilities hidden in our days.
The key is this: Make it a priority to grow in your own faith. With Him at your side, this incredible task of discipleship is completely doable.
Trust me. If He can do this for me, He can do this for you. Are you up for the challenge?
PS Don't forget to sign up for the newsletter to learn more! I am working very hard not to duplicate the message in this series.