Nothing is more important than discipling our children. Discipleship is the mission we have been entrusted with in the Great Commission and our children are our first priority in this endeavor.
As we look at the example of Jesus we see that although all were invited to follow Jesus, only twelve men were invited to be part of Jesus’s inner circle. He was tenacious in teaching them to ensure that they were clear on why He was there and what His mission was.
Not only did He understand His disciples’ complexities, He was sympathetic to their faults and weaknesses. However, Jesus never allowed His disciples to use these as excuses to become stagnant. His faithful example was indelible on their hearts and minds, and when He returned to heaven, He sent His Holy Spirit to abide with and in them to ensure the mission would continue. These very things can be applied to our families when discipling our children using Jesus’ model of inspire, equip and support.
This is the ministry Psalm 78 commissions us to do: to pass on faith from generation to generation, even to those yet to be born (v. 6)
To inspire our children in the area of discipleship means we will not mandate growth with a heavy hand of burdensome rules and regulations, but rather we will take time to inspire our children toward living in a daily relationship with God as we model what this looks like in our own lives.
In addition, we can equip our children by intentionally assessing what is needed for spiritual growth. We need to consider what kind of training will allow them to grow and mature in their dependence of God and His Holy Spirit. Parents who prayerfully seek to not interfere in rescuing their children when necessary, knowing that God will use trials to mature their faith, will find that difficult situations can become great spiritual mentors.
Support can often be one of the weak areas in parenting. We are often busy and distracted in the daily management of family life and we neglect our children’s hearts. Do our children have spiritual pastoral care in our homes for their hurts, sins, relationship issues, problems, or simply when they are having a bad day? Can they come to us to rejoice, celebrate, get motivated, or share audacious ideas?
All of these things lead to healthy discipleship and all are required in spiritual parenting. This is the ministry Psalm 78 commissions us to do: to pass on faith from generation to generation, even to those yet to be born (v. 6). Faith that lasts will take more from our families than attending church and prayers before meals and bedtime. While these are good things, they are simply not enough.
For discipleship to take place in the family, we will need to have eyes to see beyond “just getting through the day”, to be disciplined in our own spiritual maturation (because we cannot give away something that we do not have) and not grow weary in well doing.
Ultimately, to live as kingdom minded families, we will need to understand the mission to transform this generation by teaching our children to abide daily in Christ. This is truly the Blessed life Jesus speaks of when He calls us to live in His kind of kingdom.
- In what ways is your spiritual life (both the good and the bad) modeling to your children what it means to follow Christ in a relationship and not just religious behaviors? How do you feel this might inspire them to follow in your steps?
- Think through the next 3-6 months…what intentional opportunities for service, being on mission locally or abroad, or learning can be planned and/or prepared for the purpose of equipping your children to grow spiritually? Depend on God’s Spirit?
- Spend some time in prayer or journaling asking God to tenderize your heart toward the issues that mean most to your child? How is God leading you to specifically support your child?
Dr. Michelle Anthony is the Executive Pastor of Families at New Life Church and Dean of Familymin Academy. She is the author of Spiritual Parenting, The Big God Story, Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family, A Theology of Family Ministry and her newest book, 7 Family Ministry Essentials. Michelle has over 30 years of church ministry and leadership experience in children’s and family ministries and graduate degrees in Christian Education, Bible and Theology from Talbot School of Theology and and her doctorate of Education from Southern Seminary. In her free time, Michelle enjoys being with her family, reading a good book, and the beach while drinking a strong cup of coffee.