Discipling your children, Part 2

When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us’” (Deuteronomy 6:20-25).

In yesterday’s post, in response to a question from a friend, I offered a couple of ideas that my wife and I are using to deliberately train our kids in the love and admonition of the Lord. In addition to the couple of thoughts I put forward yesterday, let me offer just a couple more. As a reminder from the previous post, I would be remiss not to mention that I make a lot of mistakes in my parenting and so I do not take it lightly to offer recommendations. But my wife and I do deeply want to be intentional about how we disciple our children as we believe that to be our most important role in all of life. May you be similarly encouraged by these ideas. And hey, if you have other ideas on how you are discipling your children, please share them with me.

  • Ask about what they are learning in church: It’s real easy to go to church, drop off your children in the nursery/children’s area, pick them up when the service is over and go home. That ride home or lunch on Sunday after church provides great opportunity for conversation with your children. Ask them what they learned about. Ask to see the sheet they brought home (many churches send their kids, especially the younger ones, home with a worksheet of some sort that recaps the lesson). Quickly read over the sheet and talk about it. This will help reinforce what they are learning in Sunday School.
  • Family worship:This might be the most intimidating idea to many people. They say, “Steve, you’re a pastor, of course you know how to lead family worship.” Ok, I’ll say this once: I’m making much of this up as I go! Nowhere in seminary did we talk about leading devotions with 2 and 3 year olds. But at the same time, it doesn’t have to be very complicated. Sing a couple of songs – Deep and Wide is a favorite in our family – and then read a story from a kid-friendly Bible. We’ve been using the My First Hands-On Bible, perfect for pre-schoolers. Orange 252, a popular children’s ministry curriculum, even has an app available for both iOS and Android that offers videos, activities and discussion starter questions for parents to use with their children.
  • Apologize to them: This is a big one. It’s not really a tactic or technique, but few things will leave a larger imprint on your children’s life than if you model a willingness to apologize when you mess up. If I raise my voice unnecessarily, if I say something mean, whatever it is, I go to my children and ask them to forgive me.
  • Love your spouse well: The best way for me to care for my children is to love my wife well. In fact, we often remind our children that “Mommy and Daddy are on the same team. You can be on the team with us, but you can’t split us.” Paul (in Ephesians 5) compares marriage between a man and a woman to the love of Christ for his church. Therefore, when my children see me love my wife well, they get a taste (however small and imperfect) of just how much Christ loves his church. That is, undoubtedly, a wonderful discipling lesson for them to learn.
  • Jesus loves you more: This may be one the “crazy” things I do with my children. At every possible opportunity, I tell my kids I love them. Hopefully, that’s not too crazy, but this part is. I then go on to tell that that as much as I love them, Jesus loves them more. Jesus loves my son more than I do. Jesus loves my daughter more than I do. And I tell them that. I always want their identify to be rooted in the love of Jesus who made them and who died for them and who is calling them to be his own.

Discipling my children is the most important job I have. But that last point is important. Jesus loves them even more than I ever could. As Scripture teaches, I can only love because he loved first. Even when parenting gets tough and discipling your children seems impossible, find hope in that Jesus loves your children and he is pursuing them, calling them to himself. May it never be a pressure issue of “I have to get my kids to believe the right things,” but always a privilege that Creator God would be pleased to use us in calling these wonderful kids to himself.

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One Response

  1. I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

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