When you and your spouse were first thinking about having a child, I’m sure a lot of discussion topics came up. These topics vary from family to family, but there is one conversation I believe happens across the board: “How should we raise our child?”
From the time that we think about having a child, most of us have had dreams of how we would want to raise them and teach them about the world around us.
Whether that was through nature, music, adventure, sports, etc., we have all imagined this glorious way that we would want to raise our children up in the world… but then we realize that it isn’t just the physical world that we are raising them up in, but the spiritual world as well. We see through the Word of God that we are to be the “Main Disciplers” in our kids’ lives, but how does that effect our dream of raising our kids?
I want to share 3 hard truths about what true discipleship of your child looks like from a Biblical standpoint.
1. Discipleship of your child is going to be a discipline.
10 Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. 11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.12 Therefore I will always remind you about these things, even though you know them and are established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right, as long as I am in this bodily tent, to wake you up with a reminder, 14 since I know that I will soon lay aside my tent, as our Lord Jesus Christ has indeed made clear to me. 15 And I will also make every effort so that you are able to recall these things at any time after my departure. 2 Peter 1:10-15 CSB
For most of us, we have a lot of high aspirations and great intentions with our children when they are young about how we want to disciple them throughout their lives. However, over time we find ourselves losing our intentionally and our focus on the goal at hand. The truth is, discipleship of our children is not a natural reflex, but it is a practiced discipline. We have to remind ourselves of what Christ actually calls us to do when it comes to discipleship of our children. Jesus calls us to die to ourselves and realize that this life is not our own, but belongs to him who died for us on the cross. Jesus commands us to not set our eyes on the things of this world, but on the things that are unseen. Trust me… I know the things unseen are not easy or a reflex to disciple our children in. We don’t want to see our kids hurt or feel as though they are missing out, but guiding our children to die to themselves is what Christ has called us, as their parents, to do. This calling also means…
2. Discipleship of your child is not always glorious.
7 Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline—which all receive[e]—then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had human fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but he does it for our benefit, so that we can share his holiness. 11 No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:7-11 CSB
Discipleship of our children is not always fun. I see a parents’ role as a discipler of their kids similar to that of a trainer or a coach. Even though those people are put on a pedestal to most athletes, we tend to forget all the gruesome practices that were pushed onto the athletes by their coach. We forget the extra sprints and the hard conversations about that athlete’s character. In those moments, athletes don’t like their coach. They loathe and avoid them, but that doesn’t stop that coach from running after them and continuing to push them beyond anything the athlete could imagine for them self. This has a lot in common with how I see discipleship with our kids. It is not always the “fun” choice but it what we are called to do by Christ.
We are called to push our kids outside their comfort zones to see the bigger picture of the Kingdom of God.
We are called to lead them to look outside their friend groups, their achievements, and their knowledge, and to rely on Christ as the only thing that can satisfy them. Discipleship will mean hard conversations and difficult lessons, but we must trust that it’s all for the betterment of our child in which the Lord has entrusted to us. Which leads us to our last hard truth…
3. Discipleship of your child has to come from you.
8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. Ephesian 2:8-10 CSB
Even though our personal aspirations and dreams of parenthood might not include hard conversations and daily discipline in it, that doesn’t mean that we still aren’t called to it. We as parents are also called to die to ourselves and our own desires. We must realize that the hard discipline of discipleship needs to first come from us as their parents, who love them more than anyone. You have be chosen by God to be your child’s parent, and God wants to use YOU to disciple them. We tend to look at ourselves and think that we are not good enough to disciple our kids, but God chose and entrusted you specifically with the responsibility to disciple your child. This discipleship is not found primarily in a program, a ministry, or a small group. It is you as their parent, coaching and leading them to walk in what God has called us as believers to and teaching them all that he has commanded us.
True discipleship of our kids is not always glorious, but the glory your child will bring God through you discipling them will be so much more than anything you could imagine.