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Discipleship at Home: Spontaneous & Responsive

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Discipleship at Home: Spontaneous & Responsive

If our goal as Christian parents is to raise life-long disciples of Jesus Christ, then we must pay careful attention to how and what we teach. We find that discipleship of our children works its way out in a few different ways in our family:

  1. Structured and planned
  2. Spontaneous and responsive
  3. Repetitive and maintaining

The first way mentioned, structured and planned, was addressed in a previous post. We need to also be spontaneous and responsive in discipling our children. This is difficult for me because, by nature, I am anything but spontaneous. However, the more children I have and the older they get, the more my spontaneity muscles are exercised! The Lord is gracious that way!

Spontaneous & Responsive

The instruction to parents in Deuteronomy 6 seems to point to that kind of teaching that happens when we are fleshing out what it looks like to live under God’s authority as we go about our regular, mundane, ordinary duties…as we walk along the way, as we sit in our house, when we lie down, and when we rise up. We know as mothers that heart-teaching happens most frequently in the small, ordinary moments. And make no mistake, ordinary does not mean insignificant. Because it’s most often in these everyday moments where we learn to die to self and that grace doesn’t terminate on ourselves, and that it’s meant to be shared and given for God’s glory and for the good of others, even the members of our own family.

What are some examples of how this might look as we disciple our children in the everyday, ordinary moments at home? When we have done the work of memorizing scripture together (as mentioned in the previous post), it can easily translate into responsive/teachable moments as they present themselves, allowing God’s Word to correct as our children (and us as parents) do the work of remembering what they have been taught. We might use the “give me a verse” approach, or I’ll begin the verse, and they’ll complete it: “Do all things…,” and they finish, “without grumbling or disputing.” (Philippians 2:14) They feel the merciful weight of conviction when quoting the absolute Truth of God’s Word far more than any lengthy lecture from me. And also, they swell with happiness far greater when we praise them for the right thing, and back it up using His words. “I noticed how you were quick to listen and slow to anger just then….I know that wasn’t easy,” (James 1:19).

What about when we are up against the bombardment of a culture that is in a moral tailspin? How can we disciple responsively? Granted, many of our decisions about how we walk out our convictions don’t happen spontaneously, but what happens when our children don't understand why they aren’t permitted to watch a certain TV show, see a certain movie, listen to certain music, dress a certain way, etc.? We take them to God’s Word. Philippians 4:8 tells us “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” We can ask them how what they are asking to be permitted stacks up with what the Lord instructs us in His Word. If they have the Holy Spirit, they will generally come to quick conviction. If not yet, remaining true to our convictions in how we walk out obedience to the Lord will be their guardian until they do.

And may I take you on a quick bunny trail? I promise it runs right back into the way we’ve been walking. It’s generally not the convictions and decisions we make as Christians in contrast to the world that causes divisions, it’s those convictions we have or decisions we make that are different from other Christian families, and how we choose to “share” them that can cause divisions. We live in a culture of oversharing, and like the world, Christians too often broadcast opinions that cause polarization within the body of Christ. Far more difficult (and holy) is to quietly reserve many of our personal convictions and decisions about debatable things for those who actually ask us our reasons why, and allow the Lord to be glorified by our well-doing (for He knows our hearts) and not maligned by our self-promoting words. It’s difficult to exalt the Lord when we are exalting our opinions. End of bunny trail.

Another way we can be responsive in how we disciple our children is to give them big ideas and big thoughts, and to help them see that God gave us those thoughts and ideas first. As the weather allows us to open the windows more, we talk about the breeze that blows through the trees and then through our house, and how like the wind the Holy Spirit cannot be harnessed, but just like the wind, we can see the effects of His movement (John 3:8). On a special night last fall, we went outside at night to stargaze and marveled about the infinite bigness of God who spoke them into being - I learned anew that my children marvel at what we marvel at. As the weather warms this spring, more stargazing is on my bucket list. Ask the Lord to guide your words to magnify Him to your children in the things you observe every day.

Last but certainly not least, in fact, should be first, another spontaneous and unplanned way we disciple our children is to freely demonstrate to them our own need for the forgiveness of Christ. We as parents need to remember to ask our children for forgiveness when we’ve been too harsh. We should also strive for genuineness in apologies - no quick and meaningless, “I’m sorry’s.” In our family, apologies contain the following, “I'm sorry for ______ (fill in the blank). It was wrong because _________ (what does God’s Word say?). In the future, I will _________ (explain the better way to resolve the issue). Will you please forgive me?”

These are a few examples of what spontaneous and responsive discipleship has looked like in our family. By God’s grace, even when we greatly miss the mark, the response of our sweet children has been one of quick forgiveness. Their graciousness is freely given when we humble ourselves and admit when we’ve blown it as parents, thereby teaching us “out of the mouths of babes” a beautiful truth of God, that truly “blessed are the merciful.”

Next time, we’ll visit how our discipling our children should also be repetitive and maintaining.