Making disciples for Jesus is our ultimate goal as parents. A disciple is defined as a follower or a pupil. To disciple means to teach or to train. Here are some thoughts about discipling your children in obedience and moral training.
Before the surgeon makes one cut, we trust he has had years of practice. So, too, the mom and dad taking on the challenge of making disciples need to have had years of practice in being disciples themselves.
- What is the characterization of your heart?
- Are you walking in obedience to the Lord?
- Are you teachable?
- When you recognize an area that needs work in your life, what do you do?
In 2 Timothy 4:2 we are told to preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season. The passage goes on to say the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine and instead will turn their ears away from the truth. Mom and Dad, How are your hearts?
We want our children to grow up to be productive contributors to society, taking the message of the gospel into all that they do. It is our job to equip and to train them. Do not assume someone else will do the job. We need to teach our children to always turn to the Lord; He has a solution for any obstacle.
Obedience is the foundation for character change and moral growth in our children. If obedience is lacking, all other efforts to train will be in vain. One of the clearest examples of biblical obedience is in the life of young Samuel and his response to Eli and to God. (see 1 Sam 3:1-10) We can glean 5 important elements of obedience from this short interaction. Samuel responded
4) without complaint
5) without challenge.
See the details of the “Five Fingers of Obedience” here: https://christianfamilyheritage.org/printables/
As our children grow, so does their obedience training.
During the toddler and preschool years, little ones require lots of repetition. It helps them learn obedience to have fun and make a game out of it:
- Recite the five fingers of obedience at the dinner table
- Practice using a Simon-Says type of game
- See if your littles can repeat the requirements of obedience back to you; encourage them when they do!
Enthusiasm and fun helps with training! Train your preschoolers during times of non-conflict and make sure you are consistent in what you require of them.
Once your child enters school, you can hold them to a higher standard. If there has been consistency in your training, now is the time to take your pulse as a disciple maker:
- Is your child characterized by immediate and complete obedience?
- Prayerfully evaluate your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Plan a ‘date’ with each child to discuss your discipleship goals.
- Find appropriate Scripture verses that would be helpful for each child to memorize as he matures
All of this prepares the child for the transition into the teen years. They are not there yet, but will be soon and you want to make them aware that obedience out of duty is just the first step to spiritual maturity. The goal is that they obey because it is the right thing to do.
A teen on the way to becoming fully mature is a delight to be around. Teenagers should be characterized by all aspects of obedience. Parents should be directing their hearts out of a healthy relationship and not out of authority. Again, it is important that Mom and Dad are characterized by the values they want to instill into their children’s hearts. As we learned in Growing Kids God’s Way, a child can never mature morally beyond the level of parental moral maturity.
Finally, it is important that we remember it is our job as parents to be stocking the child’s moral warehouse full of biblical virtue. Once the rudiment of outward obedience is in place, you can begin to further your child’s moral training. The most powerful tool we have in our arsenal is the Word of God. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man (or child) of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16. Use it as you continue to disciple your children to become Christ followers.