o here we are. Part three of a series that I certainly don't feel competent to be writing! But, as mentioned before, I've been asked to speak this coming Saturday on the topic of "Discipling our Children" so in preparation for that talk I have prayerfully created part one, and part two. Now for part three. My desire is that it would be an encouragement....
Summary from earlier posts on this topic:
1. Discipling our children is more about people than Process. (My children are intrinsically important individuals who must each make a decision to follow the Lord. No particular "method" will guarantee any given result.)
2. It is more about who I am than what I do. (My walk with the Lord is paramount. My joyful obedience is significantly more important than any prescribed "method" of discipleship.)
Certainly Jesus is our primary example and He is the One who originally gave us the command to "be about making disciples"(Matt. 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.") I believe that we need to look to Him and how He, being God afterall, discipled his "guys".
Primarily, I see Jesus simply “doing” life with the Disciples. They were with him 24/7 and were able to watch how He interacted with a hurting world. His main method of communication with his followers was not to lecture them (although they were able to hear Him speak to a hungry and needy world on many occasions).
Secondly, He was a master of asking questions. I would love to be able to ask questions as Jesus did. “Who do people say that the Son of Man is? Who do you say that I am? Why are you afraid? What did you go out into the wilderness to see?"
My questions, on the other hand, tend to be more along the lines of, “Who left their muddy socks there?” and “What exactly did you think would happen when you hung from the ceiling fan and asked your brother to turn it on?" or “Who left 22 cups of gravel from the driveway in their jeans pockets to be laundered?” (I am really bad about not checking pockets before doing laundry!)
I hesitate to share particular things that our family has done or is doing to disciple our children because I am well-aware of the tendency to compare. I can so easily fall into this trap as well. It is so easy for me to talk with a friend and come away thinking, "I should do ______________ like that family does."
I am all for gleaning good ideas from both friends and books and implementing the ones that the Lord has for our family, but please remember that every family is different. Your family will not look exactly like ours. (Rom. 12:4-8) I don’t even begin to claim that what we are doing is any sort of ultimate example, but because I know you are curious, here are some of the practical ways that we disciple our children.
Prayerfully glean what the Lord might call your family to do but rejoice in the "uniqueness" of your family~ I'm quite sure that you have done/or are doing some things that I have never thought of~ please do share in the comments section. I'd love to hear your ideas!
That being said, here are some ways that we have invested in our children:
1. Home educating (Deut.11:19-20 "You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.
You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates")
This is a practical way that we are able to “do life” with our children and impact them, not only when it is “convenient” for us, but when it is “needful” in their lives.
Please know that I don't believe that homeschooling is the panacea for all that ails. It is simply what is best for us right now. While incredibly difficult and draining at times, I count it a total honor and privilege to be able to invest in my children in this way.
We have home educated our children for the past 16 years and I would totally do it all over again. Hopefully I'd even do some things better....
When the children are with me all day long and I live fully-engaged, joyfully interacting with them… all of us are being molded into His image. At times, I think I am being molded more than the children!
2. Family devotions - this is the richest time of our day. We have done many different things but usually it simply involves us reading some Scripture together as a family and Tom leading us in discussion. Many times we spend some time singing together and almost always pray for needs that we are aware of.
Sometimes when Tom is not available, one of the older boys or I will lead this time and that is great too.
I am not very creative, but we have also acted out Bible stories, and done some fun things like using Bible felts (flannelgraphs!) to tell stories, etc.
3. Scripture memory. We work for a short time each morning as we begin school on the book that we are currently memorizing. We just began chapter 4 of Philippians this morning! Even young children are capable of memorizing large portions of scripture. Slow and steady is key here. We try to make it fun, using motions to help us remember the verses, etc.
I like to use little spiral-bound 3"x5" card decks. By writing more than one verse per page I can usually fit a whole book in each card set.
Here's an excellent article that we have found to really work for memorizing verbatum text. Try it! Even I am able to memorize Scripture this way! I like to use this method by writing the beginning letters for each word of the verse on the back of each 3"x5" card. It is a great way to quiz myself and force my brain to "engage" and work!
At times we have encouraged our older children to memorize topical verses, like Navigator's Topical Memory System.
4. Individual times with the children. We usually plan some sort of special birthday outing for each child. This can be a sweet individual time with that child to encourage them and have discussions that might not "happen" in the midst of busy everyday life here.
I have also scheduled a "mother's helper" to be my special assistant in dinner preparation~ a different child each evening. The children really look forward to that time as well.
I schedule time with each child individually on school days. As we discuss school work and as I instruct academically, other topics can arise as well that need to be addressed.
5. Striving to live “fully engaged,” really choosing to listen to my children, give them eye-contact and my full attention even in the midst of a very busy day with many fires to put out
6. Requiring our older children (those who can read independently) to have their own personal quiet time each day.
7. Praying: for them in my personal quiet time in the morning, often in response to verses that I read that morning, throughout the day as I strive to stay “connected” to the Lord, in our family devotion time, with my children as issues/needs arise and with Tom as we seek the Lord and His best for our family….
Our children are people, just like us, who must choose to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. While it is important for me to create an atmosphere conducive for that to happen, I believe that, most importantly, I must model a walk with the Lord that is authentic and joy-filled so that they will desire to serve the God that I serve.
How then, do I define “success” as a parent? When my children are obediently getting along and being kind to each other it is easy to smugly feel “successful,” but what about when they have a “bicker-fest” with each other, argue with me or make poor choices?
My responsibility is to parent faithfully, consistently and in a way that honors God as I raise my children. The rest is up to Him. Certainly, when character issues arise I need to address them, but instead of being surprised and dismayed or even feeling like my reputation is being damaged, when my focus is on the Lord, I can seek their best, knowing that I too am “in process” and have not “arrived.”
I desire for my children, not happiness, but holiness, Christlikeness. As my children learn to deny themselves, they will discover true joy which is the fruit of obedience.
I am convinced that there is no one “right” way to disciple our children. There are no perfect man-made ways to disciple or train. The key is for us to pursue a genuine, passionate relationship with the Lord. Then we are equipped and able to serve aright, freed to disciple our children as we look to the Lord for His plan, first for us as individuals, then for our family and finally, other ways that He calls us to minister for Him.
Parenting/discipling our children is more about people than process.
It is more about who I am than what I do.
It is more about who I am than what I do.
Let's seek the Lord diligently. I am confident that we will be amazed at all He has for us and for our family. His plans for us are exceedingly greater than we could ever ask for or imagine! (1 Cor. 2:9)
Resources for you:
- Teach Them Diligently: How to Use the Scriptures in Child Training by Lou Priolo
- Doorposts resources
- Parenting is Your Highest Calling: and Eight Other Myths that Trap us in Worry and Guilt by Leslie Leyland Fields