Discipling your children, your most important job

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 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” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7).

A few days ago, I received a message from a friend stating he wanted to be deliberate about starting to teach his daughter basic Bible truths and what it means to love the Lord. He then asked for any suggestions or recommendations I might have. However, before I get to those recommendations, let me make two initial comments:

  • I heartily commend my friend for his desire to be intentional with his daughter. More than anything about my parenting, I want it to be said that I was intentional about how I raised my children to love the Lord. I appreciate his longing for the same.
  • To offer insight into parenting is a dangerous task indeed. My children are 3 and 2, with another due in October. It would be both arrogant and outright foolish for me to say that I’ve got this figured out. So while I do want to be intentional with my children, we’re trying to figure out our way as we go.

That said, I do earnestly believe that discipling my children is my most important job. And further, I would say the same to any other parent as well. Raising godly children will not be easy. The road won’t always be clear. But, as Deuteronomy 6 states, we are to be diligent in teaching our children to love the Lord. There is nothing more important that I will do in all of my life than to parent these children whom God has formed in his own image and has entrusted to my wife and I. So, here are some of the strategies that I (we) are using to disciple our children, along with links as appropriate:

  • Kids First Catechism: A catechism is just a series of questions and answers designed to teach. The Kids First Catechism has been a real gift to our children. Starting with “Who made you?” the catechism, in short bits, teaches incredible foundational doctrine. For our family, we just ask the kids, “Hey, can we do your questions?” Especially at bedtime, I sit them on my lap, and I ask them the questions. We review the past questions they have learned and then, when I feel they are ready, teach them a new question. We started on this with my son at 18 months old.
    • The Kids First Catechism is available both online or in a booklet. We use the booklet and keep it by the kids beds.
  • Teach them to serve: We ask a lot of our kids. In fact, we just returned from a two week missions trip in New Orleans where they picked up trash, painted, washed people’s feet and more. In addition, they have been Salvation Army bell ringers at Christmas and much more. We want our kids to know that to be a part of our family is to serve. So, we teach them to serve and we provide opportunities for them to do so.
  • Pray with and for them: We pray with and for our children, and not just at meal times. They say bedtime prayers. Whenever we see an ambulance we pray for the people the ambulance is helping. We pray. Let me briefly elaborate on prayer just a little further…
    • Pray during discipline: Every time I discipline my children, I end the discipline by taking them into my arms and have them pray and ask God for forgiveness. Then, I look them in the eye and say, “Daddy loves you and Daddy forgives you. Jesus loves you and Jesus forgives you. It’s all done.” Really a beautiful moment with my kids to declare God’s forgiveness to them.
    • Pray for their salvation: My prayer for my children is simple. I pray that they never know a day apart from Jesus. I pray that Jesus would call them to himself and that they would always know that they are his children.
    • Pray for my own sanctification: Kids want to be like their parents. Sounds obvious, but is very true. My son wants to wear the same shirts as me, sit in a chair like I do, root for the same teams as I do (that’s very important in parenting!) and more. He wants to be like me. If that is true, then I want to be the man that I want him to become. So I pray that God would be sanctifying me, teaching me to love and obey Him more, making me into His image.

Discipling my children is the most important job I will ever do. It is the most important job you will ever do. Here are a few of the things we are doing toward that end with our children, with a few more thoughts coming tomorrow. I pray that my attempts to disciple my kids will be an encouragement to you as you do the same.

Interact: How are you discipling your children? Do you have some ideas to share?

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