The Gift of Discipling Our Children

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by Kelsi Drake

Recently I’ve been reminded of just how simply incredible the gospel truly is as I’m seeing my kids absorb it for the first time. As someone who grew up attending church, it’s easy for me to gloss over the value of my salvation and God’s love for me, almost as if it’s running in the background of my mind. It sometimes stops me in my tracks when my kids ask me a basic question like “Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?” (which is a question on repeat from our 2 year old right now), and I get to again remind him that Jesus died for us so that we can be saved from our sin and no longer be separated from God. 

Other truths that feel so complicated to my adult self are so simple to them, one example being evangelism. I can recall a conversation with our four year old where I mentioned that not everyone follows Jesus, and he shockingly asked why someone wouldn’t follow Him. I told him some people know about Him and choose not to follow Him, but that sometimes people just sadly don’t know about Him. Without a second thought he responded “Well we should tell them!” He is quick to share with friends that his family follows Jesus without shame and embarrassment. What an example children are! 

Their enthusiasm for Christ and desire to know more (so.many.questions) pushes me to remember the gift and incredible honor it is to have the opportunity to disciple them in our home. If I’m being honest, it can often feel overwhelming. I get stuck in the cycle of overthinking and wondering if I’m doing enough. Am I praying with them often? Why do I always forget to do our scripture memory? How is it so hard to remember to read them a daily Bible story? 

First and foremost, I have to remind myself that there is grace and that God alone has the ability to save my children. I can disciple them all I want and be the “perfect” parent and they still may never follow Him. Keeping that in mind, I’ve recently been thinking through how to build some of these discipleship moments into our day so that they become a habit. I was specifically encouraged to do this while reading Justin Whitmel Earley’s book, Habits of the Household, wherein he describes building in these “habits” so that they become routine. As he says “To steward the habits of your family is to steward the hearts of your family.”

One example for our family is building in scripture memory. I taped a verse to be memorizing on the inside of the cabinet I know I will get dishes out of for breakfast. This way, we will be more likely to remember to go over it as we eat in the morning. We’ve also been building in more prayer times, one being holding hands and saying a quick prayer together before the boys leave for school in the morning. As we do these longer and longer, it becomes so a part of the day that the kids will remind us if we happen to forget. Obviously we don’t do this perfectly, and there are days where a preschooler will proclaim he doesn’t want to join us for prayer that morning!

For as long as I’ve been a parent I’ve often thought I need to pray more frequently for my children. It’s always a nice thought, but never something that has necessarily pushed me to action or changed my habits. Instead, I’ve mostly relied on sporadic prayers as they’ve come to mind. Recently, at the end of the day just before I get into bed I’ve been standing outside each of their rooms and praying for them (an idea from the book I quoted above). I find that regularly praying for them changes the way I interact with my kids. I am daily reminded of my humble reliance on The Lord to parent my precious children. 

What a blessing it is that The Lord allows us to come alongside our children in their discipleship. May we each be thinking and praying through the ways He can be using us in that regard, and be open to the work, time, and inconvenience it may require. 

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 doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-9

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