By Brenda Kelly
Children, dressed, hair in place and sitting attentively in the family room, Dad with his Bible giving a sermon, and me making sure the baby was quiet. That was my initial thought when I heard that we should be involved in “Family Discipleship.”
“There’s no way that is going to happen in our crazy world of 70-hour work weeks, educating 6 children, and a house to manage — not to mention biblical hospitality, church life, etc. Maybe next year we’ll get our act together and mange to pull this off!”
But as the years went by, I began to realize that discipleship happens best when it happens naturally during a day … choosing to sing a worship song instead of a nursery rhyme when putting the toddler to bed, grabbing a Bible and reading what God has to say about selfishness when breaking up a dispute over a toy instead of trying to decide “who had it first,” stopping to pray with a teen whose heart has been wounded by a friend instead of thinking there will be time later for this conversation, wiping away tears over a math problem while reminding that God wants us to work hard and school is part of a child’s work.
This doesn’t mean that family Bible times aren’t important, they just aren’t everything. My daughter witnessed this kind of discipleship in action recently when visiting with a family of strong-willed preschoolers. While busy cleaning up the kitchen, Mom was interrupted when two of her children came in arguing and crying over sharing a beloved toy. Instead of trying to talk with them while continuing to wash the dishes, this intentional Mom, stopped, grabbed her Bible, glanced at her refrigerator where she had some sin/consequence Bible verses posted, and took the children to a quiet place to work through their heart issues. As the minutes passed, my daughter was amazed when she spent more than 30 minutes with her children, bringing them to God’s Word, sharing with them how it is impossible to please Him in one’s own strength and reminding them of the power of the Gospel.
This mom was ready! She had her Bible close at hand and a Doorpost “If Then” Chart1 posted in an easy to find location with verses to use when discipling littles (and biggers) in the ways of God. Another great tool is Proverbs for Parenting by Barbara Decker. You’ll want to underline verses in the many sections that fit best and maybe put sticky notes on specific character issues that tend to come up time and time again.
Living life together with our children provides so many opportunities to weave our love for God and our reliance on His word into everything we do. But it won’t happen on its own. It takes intentionality! It takes the willingness to walk away from the dishes, a math lesson or supper prep to deal with things in real time! It takes fortifying our own walk with the Lord each day, memorizing His Word so it is on the tip of our tongue, choosing to walk in joy and not drudgery. Our children need to see us modeling this kind of victorious living.
This is “Family Discipleship.”
1 Doorpost.com – “If Then” chart available for download for only $6.50