Discipling Our Children (and a little extra on salvation)

Posted by  | Monday, June 23, 2008  at 6:34 AM  
As we go…

How many of you moms feel like you are “on the go” all of the time? “Going” is just part of being a mom. “As we go” is going to be our starting place in our discussion of discipling our children. I think sometimes when we think of discipleship we think of sitting down with someone “one on one” for a structured time to teach them. While this is sometimes true, it is not the “rule” for discipleship. Many times when Jesus was with His disciples He was walking with them, fishing with them, eating with them and even sleeping beside them! As moms we could translate that to look something like this: discipleship with our children can be when we are strolling them (or walking in the grocery store with them), playing with them, feeding them or eating with them, and lying down with them or rocking them to sleep.

In our fast food, instant result society sometimes we tend to get impatient and want things done NOW!! When we think of discipleship we never need to think “instant results.” Discipleship is a process that takes time, energy, patience, a lot of prayer, time, time and time! Deuteronomy 6:7-9 speaks to this when talking about teaching our children the Word of God: 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Here are a few practical things that we do in our house to teach our children about God, His Word and His unconditional love for them:

…Family Devotion Time(or as Madison would say "Family Evotion Time" - This time has changed and will keep changing as their ages change. We have a time at 8 o’clock about 3-4 times a week teaching God’s word, singing, sharing and praying together. We really have used this time to teach our children The BIG PICTURE of God’s plan for the world since He created it. We also teach them during this time that this life is about HIS GLORY and not about us. We have also seen our children’s prayer life grow during our family devotion time. We have been able to demonstrate and discuss how we pray to Jesus from our hearts and not just spout off things we have memorized. This praying time has become my favorite time as I listen to the innocent, unashamed, bold prayers of my kids!

…Use His Word to discuss problems and struggles they may have (ie..issues with friends at school, fear at bedtime, attitude issues)

…Pray with them. This doesn’t happen just at meal and bedtime. Pray with them before school, when disciplining, or just stopping in the day to thank Jesus for something. I also pray each day in front of them about how thankful I am to God that He gave me such special presents like Meredith, Madison and Matthew Ray.(btw…they love this prayer!)

A final note about leading our children to become believers in Jesus:

The word, disciple, is used about 250 times in the Gospels and the Book of Acts. It usually means someone who has declared Christ as Master of their life. The word never means something someone does to another person! As a parent we do not convert our children to Christ. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. I can influence my children for Christ but only God can do the work in their hearts. So discipling our children means working with them, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. It means using the Word of God to help mold their lives. It is showing them what it means to surrender to the Savior as Lord of their lives.

I share this from our personal experience with our oldest daughter, Meredith. Meredith prayed a “sinner’s prayer” several times over the course of several years starting at age 4. She seemed to never be able to “settle her salvation.” She would come to us and say, “I just don’t think I know if I really believe. I don’t want to believe because you tell me it is the way. I don’t think you would ever lie to me but what if your parents told you this and you just believe it because of them. How do you really know Jesus is real.” We spent SO MANY hours sitting, praying, talking and crying with her. We wanted to just hold her and tell her to “just pray this prayer” but we knew we were not the Holy Spirit and it was not our job.

I remember the feeling of hopelessness one night when she tried praying again, looked up and said, “Nope, that’s not it! I am so tired of this bad feeling!!” She ended up crying herself to sleep that night. I turned to Matt and asked, “What if we see this sweet, obedient child grow up and never believe and surrender to Jesus?” We both cried and prayed for her. Our hearts were aching.

Praise the Lord...it has been almost 2 years (5 years since the beginning of her journey) since Meredith surrendered her life to Christ. HE didn’t give up on her. She came under deep conviction of her own sinfulness one day, asked a few more questions, prayed such a sweet prayer and has never doubted her salvation again!!!! YIPPY!!

We need to allow our children the opportunity to hear from the Holy Spirit. It is so easy to lead children in a “sinner’s prayer” especially when we know the truth and we want the best for them. The key to discipling our children is letting the Spirit of Christ lead the way.

5 comments:

Shannon said...

Wow, what a really good word. Thank you so much. It's encouraging to hear about discipleship happening "as we go." And I was very encouraged to hear about your daughter's journey to belief in Jesus. Since mine are 2 and under, that's uncharted waters for me, and it's good to hear about others' experiences, especially when they are not perfect and easy. Thanks for sharing.

Greene family said...

That's so great that your daughter was wise enough (under your leadership) that she wanted an authentic relationship with Christ and didn't just settle for saying the words out loud but that she was honest with you about her heart. My son is 19 months and I pray for him all the time to truly know Jesus throughout his life. I pray he's as honest with me about matters of his heart.

Christy said...

As both of my boys are both under the age of 2 and my oldest is just starting to really take interest in books and constantly asking "dat?" and pointing at the object of his interest. I have been truly burdened with showing them the life of a follower of Christ. I know my life is not a perfect example and only hope that I look back on my mistakes and learn well from them and that as I grow closer in my life to Christ that I am a good example for my boys and any future children that I may be blessed with. I thank you for your wonderful words in the salvation of our loved ones. Especially at this time when it will be by the example of myself and my husband that our children will learn of Christ and how to have a relationship with him.

Valerie Hancock said...

I am so thankful that you posted that. I have been so tempted at times to "pray the prayer" with my kids. They too struggle with their salvation. Especially Johnny. But I see now, that I am doing exactly what God wants me to do. Be an example. The Spirit does the convicting. I will continue to pray for them, and I know that in God's timing, it will all work for HIS purpose. Thank you for the encouragement. I so need that at this very moment in my walk. :)

Robin Baker said...

Love your site and subscribe to it in my Google reader. Does anyone have any advice for a Christian woman married to an unbeliever? I've got some books but have found it hard to keep up with reading (or anything!) since my second son was born 20 months after my first. The hardest thing for me is teaching my kids in front of my husband - prayer, bible reading,etc. How shall you disciple in front of a non-believer in your own home? I am afraid of him making fun of us.... it truely is a good example of the scripture that talks about Jesus dividing a family. I know it's my fault for being un-equally yoked, but what do I do now?

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