To Parents: Discipleship

I heard sermons on discipleship today and last Sunday.  Discipleship has become a very big emphasis at my church, but with all the emphasis on discipleship, a particular component has been strangely lacking: the discipleship of our children.

I’m feeling more and more strongly about this all the time.  It’s an often unspoken assumption that parents disciple their children, that a child’s spiritual formation begins at home.  But I’m beginning to think more and more that although its assumed we do it, very few of us parents actually set aside a specific time each week to spend one on one time with our children to read the Bible and talk together about what it says.  I think that its far too easy in the midst of our very busy lives to not schedule time with our kids and when we don’t have time to do it, we think to ourselves, “They have Sunday school and youth group; its ok if I didn’t have time this week.”  And as that becomes a pattern, we don’t even give a thought to discipling our kids, and we believe they’re covered by what they get in church.

I think we’ve been lulled into believing a lie.  That our children don’t need us to disciple them because there are programs that cover that.  I had a big wake-up call a couple of weeks ago, which I posted about, when I had an ‘M-study’ with my 5 1/2 year old.  We spent 45 minutes reading the Bible and talking and he wasn’t even getting bored.  It is so very important to disciple our children.  I need to take seriously what it says in Deuteronomy 6: “6And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. 7Repeat them again and again to your children (italics mine). Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again.”

I think one of the roadblocks people encounter when it comes to discipleship is that they themselves have never been discipled and so don’t feel qualified to disciple someone else.  Maybe a person has not been discipled but don’t let our children say the same thing when they become adults.  I hope my kids will be able to say that their parents discipled them and so they don’t have to feel intimidated to disciple someone else.  The other roadblocks to discipleship (time, fear, etc.) should be the easiest to overcome when discipling our own children.  This should be the least scary form of discipleship because we already have a relationship with our children; we live in the same house so we should be able to find time somewhere; we may not feel qualified, but how many of us feel qualified to parent and yet we do it anyway, trusting God to give us the wisdom we need to raise our kids up in His ways.

Lastly, if we disciple a number of people throughout our lifetimes, but didn’t disciple our own children, haven’t we missed the most important part?

4 Responses

  1. Nin

    Wow, totally.
    My hubby and I were just talking about this. We were saying how we both struggle with that daily time we know we need personally with God. But how if it is planted in our daughter now, at the age of 5, how much easier will it be for her to walk this out. I agree we need to be discipling our children first, and husbands discipling wives. It needs to start at home. Otherwise, what do you have to bring outside of your home, if it’s not there? I need to walk in this more, as I’m home with my daughter everyday. So glad God is patient and gracious with me. Good post.

    April 30, 2006 at 10:51 pm

  2. I agree too. I think the same things happen with the regular school system as well…many parents skip the sex talk and drugs and other important discussions because they’ll get the basics from school. The way I see it, I want my kids to get the basics from me and the school stuff can be food for further thought.

    “Lastly, if we disciple a number of people throughout our lifetimes, but didn’t disciple our own children, haven’t we missed the most important part?”

    I liked that. As parents we have to make sure we do the most we can to disciple our children and not the least we can get away with.

    May 1, 2006 at 12:43 pm

  3. couldn’t agree more…home first…then the world, but man it’s hard

    May 15, 2006 at 10:46 pm

  4. Sherry the princess

    I am so glad that you are learning this. As a youth leader it is frustrating if a child is not getting the discipline and teaching he/she needs at home. We are a supplement not a replacement. Thank you!

    May 20, 2006 at 8:40 am