By: Keith Rodriguez
There is a tension in parenting. How do you invest in your children, maintain a good work-family balance, and raise up kids who will grow into powerful witnesses for Christ? And these are just a few of the inherent issues presented to Christian families in the 21st-century. Consider on top of that the many interests of both ourselves and our children vying for our daily attention: sports, dance, school, church, entertainment, the list goes on and on. In the midst of all this busyness how do we take the time to disciple and train up our family?
What if we are missing teachable moments?
First things first! In case you were not aware, all of our lives are filled with teachable moments, and this is even more important in the presence of our children. Our children are watching each moment, each action, and are logging information, learning and growing, both positively and negatively.
Chip Ingram implies that we should be raising children whom we want to act like ourselves as they grow and mature.1
Yes, this is correct, they will likely emulate the behavior that you exhibit, and as such, you must ensure that you are living in a way that creates teachable moments and conveys Christ-like behavior.
Jeff Vanderstelt calls this missional living, and states,“I define missional living as being continually-sent disciple-makers who live everyday with gospel intentionality so we might both show and tell others what worship of Jesus looks like in the everyday stuff of life.”2
Do you approach your life as a disciple-making endeavor, especially in front of your kids? When you have a conflict with your spouse, do you teach your children how a Christ-centered couple disagrees and reconciles? How a godly family lives in light of grace when others fall short? How godly people enjoy the freedom to appreciate God’s good creation, and blessings?
Are you setting aside purposeful time dedicated to your family’s spiritual growth?
“Fathers (or parents), do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 NIV
Aside from teachable moments, Christian parents are commanded to bring their children up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children.” Deut. 6:6-7a
You must introduce a method of intentional discipleship, Bible study, and prayer within your child’s life! Intentional means that it must be consistent, and well thought out. Personally, I recommend a few resources—along with the Bible—to aid in the discipleship of your children:
The Ology by Marty Machowski
Long Story Short by Marty Machowski
Old Story New by Marty Machowski
What if I fall short?
The key within all of this is to have a plan, both deliberately utilizing teachable moments within everyday life, and maintaining thoughtful devotion and study with your kids. I would suggest at least three times per week of purposeful study, and prayer with your children. If you aim to incorporate this everyday, that is awesome, but do not become disheartened and give-up when life becomes too busy and you fail to accomplish your goal. Instead aim for what is practical in your life, and for your family’s needs, with the minimum of three days per week in mind.
Finally, this time creates great opportunities for your kids to discuss the challenges that they are facing in life, to ask questions about God, and to learn how to pray. And don’t be intimidated; your kids are eager to hear what you have to say about God, and with the resources listed above, there is great opportunity for growth, both within our children and within ourselves. Lastly, your church family is here for you, if you need further suggestions or coaching on how to disciple your family, reach out to a pastor or your community group leader.
1Chip Ingram, Effective Parenting in a Defective World (Suwanee, GA: Living on the Edge, 2012) p. 8
2Jeff Vanderstelt, Making Disciples in the Everyday Stuff of Life, Desiring God, 4/29/2015, accessed 6/15/2016, http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/making-disciples-in-the-everyday-stuff-of-life, para. 1