Discipling your children. HOW?
It is not easy.
In fact, it is exhausting.
It requires being fully surrendered.
It requires putting yourself last. Dead last. Rick Warren was not kidding when he said, “It’s not about you.”
It requires sacrificial parenting -- At a minimum, 18 years worth – at the very least. And that is per child.
It requires focus on the goal – with the goal being godly kids/raising up worshippers for His Name.
It sometimes requires redefining everything. Do you want your kids to be happy or do you want them to be holy? Do you want your kids to be successful, or do you want them to be godly.
When the Bible states to TRAIN UP a child…I think of when I learned how to ride a bike. When I was 9, they only made one size bicycle—adult. I didn’t get it the first time. I had to be trained to balance, trained to pedal, trained to do them both at the same time, trained not to panic, trained to use the brakes instead of jumping off. It didn’t’ happen for me overnight. My Mom claims she ran hundreds of miles behind that bike holding it steady during this difficult time in my life...It took days of training and practicing to finally get it.
Discipling, and training – we’re in it for the long haul.
I just spent time at my daughter's, helping with baby Leala who just arrived into the world. Kari has Titus, who is three, Eliana, who is 20 months, and a newborn. But I watched them patiently train their kids in different areas while I was there. Titus is very compliant, mostly. Elli is just a mess, though. And not for lack of training. She doesn’t like to eat, and she doesn’t like to take naps. She’s just one of those unique little strong willed things. Because of her diagnosis, her parents are careful to keep her healthy and on track physically because of the unknowns. However, at 18 months, she weighed only 18 pounds. They do everything “right”, and she just some days decides not to eat. They say, “One more bite” and she (very cutely, I might add), throws her hands over her mouth. Well, she’s not doing it to be funny, it’s just defiance. So Danny takes her to the back room, away from the table, and “trains “ her. Titus looks at me and says matter-of-factly, “Anya (his pronunciation of Eliana) isn’t obeying, is she Nanna?” But because they love Elli, and Elli needs to eat, and more than that, Elli needs to obey – Elli gets trained.
Are they tired? Yes. Are they exhausted? Yes. But they cannot quit training for the physical and spiritual health of their children. (A child’s job is to obey his parents…we must train our kids to obey.)
THREE MAIN THINGS about discipling your kids that I want to leave with you.
1. LOVE THE WORD.
It totally starts with here with you. Immerse yourself in it. Know it, live it, obey it, read it. Hide it in your heart. Meditate on it. Draw strength from it. Make it a priority. Do you have a plan for that?
a. Bathe your kids in scripture. God commands parents, “These words I have given you shall be in your heart. Teach them to your children as you”….wake and sleep and walk by the way, and play catch in the backyard and drive through the take out window at Chick Fil A. The Israelites incorporated God into every aspect of life. So, use scripture as a part of your everyday life and language. Let your kids see you reading the Bible, loving the Word, and it making a difference in your life. Read the Bible out loud as you rock your child in the morning and have a few quiet minutes together. Post it in your house and on your walls. Post a verse a week on your refrigerator or car dashboard to memorize together. Put a Bible in bed with them, so when they wake up it is the first thing they see. Read scripture over your children as they sleep.
b. Recognize the POWER in the word of God. Use scripture so it is a part of your every day life and language. Use it to encourage not to be punitive. My favorite scripture always was “Do all things without murmuring and complaining.” But instead of beating them over the head with it, you guide with it – “The Bible instructs us to do all things without murmuring and complaining. Do you understand what that means?" After discussing, you then say, “In five minutes it will be time to pick up the toys.” Then encourage them rightly by pointing out how God helped them obey.
c. Pray the Word. (nothing gets the attention of the Father faster than when He hears His word repeated back to Him.)
Father, the Bible says we should pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1) Help Nathan to persevere as he practices baseball and learns how to catch fly balls.
Father, your word says that “Our love must not be just words and talk, but true love which shows itself in action." Thank you for Emily, who showed true love to me by helping me feed and walk the dog.
Children are a blessing of the Lord. Thank you Father that Luke obeyed today and ate his lunch. Luke is a blessing to us.
The catch – you must know scripture, to be able to teach your kids to pray scripture. HIDE IT IN YOUR HEART. You have to be purposeful. Teach it when they rise up and when they lie down. Teach it when they walk in the way.
2. TEACH DOCTRINE and biblical truth to your children daily, so that it penetrates to the core of their being and the very fiber of their heart. Teach it daily, so it becomes a part of who they are and what they believe so deeply that in times of testing their theology is sure and cannot be shaken.
You have to know what you believe and want to teach about God in order to disciple your children. And better to have this hammered out now, so that your theology doesn’t have to be hammered out years later in hospital waiting rooms or funeral homes. Better to fix your hope now on “God is good” than to have to conjure it up when you scarcely can breathe for the pain.
Start with one of two of these and repeat them throughout your day… as you wake and sleep and lie down and break bread together and walk in the park. Or pick another doctrine that you hold fast to, and start there.
a. God made everything. (Easy conversation when you see a rainbow or a sunset, or a dog or a baby or a bug, etc.)
b. God is good. Easy conversation when you are helping your child get dressed and say “God gave us clothes to wear. God is good. “ or when daddy leaves for work, “God gave daddy a job he loves. God is good.”
c. We can talk to God. (Pray without ceasing along with your kids. We can talk to God any time, any where.)
d. God is in charge of everything. If rain interrupts a trip to the park, explain that it’s o.k. because God is in charge of everything and the flowers need the rain to grow. Or if a friend cannot come over to play, explain that it’s o.k. because God is in charge of everything and has a better plan for the afternoon. When you read Bible stories, such as Noah, repeat that God is in charge of everything, and He had a plan for Noah and his family
3. EMBRACE WORSHIP
Children learn to worship by watching their parents worship. They learn to pray by watching their parents pray. They learn to give by watching their parents give, and they learn to serve by watching their parents serve. When worship is an obvious joy to parents, it will be to their children as well. Weave it into every aspect of living – a morning prayer time every morning. Or a family worship before bedtime – read a Children’s Bible story book, chapter at a time.
I said earlier that this requires sacrifice and surrender and a change of focus.. And it does. But it doesn’t have to be hard. Just begin by falling in love with Jesus. Your kids will notice. (I told Titus how kind his Dad was by cleaning up the kitchen one night and he answered, “My Daddy loves Jesus.” At age three, he just knew it -- it was natural. )
And walk with God. Be astonished at His greatness and ability to teach you to raise your children in His Nurture and Admonition. Afterall, we are called to raise up worshippers to His Name. and everything I learned about parenting , I learned from how He parents me.