In what is referred to as the Great Commission, Jesus told us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” (Matthew 28:19). Just as Jesus made disciples, we are to do the same. And as parents, our children are the first ones that we are called to disciple and train in the ways of the Lord.
But how do we go about discipling our kids? Let’s take a look at the way Jesus discipled His followers and see how we can apply it to raising our children. Who better to learn discipleship from than the Master Himself?
Jesus had a multi-faceted approach to discipleship. We must do the same if we are to be effective in discipling people–including our children. Below are five components of well-rounded and effective discipleship that you can apply to how you disciple your kids.
“Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out…” (Mark 3:14)
Notice that the first call of the disciples was to be with Jesus. Before He sent them to preach and minister, He developed a relationship with them. Effective discipleship requires genuine connection. This means that we must invest time in people, build relationship with them, get to know them, and open up our world to them.
The same is true in training our kids. Our children are real people with real thoughts, emotions, gifts, and personalities. We must be intentional to connect with our children, making time and space for a real relationship to develop. Carve out time to be with them, interact with them on their level, and have quality conversation with them. This type of connection creates a healthy foundation for training them up in the Lord.
Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)
Jesus often gave instruction to His disciples on specific topics as well as general principles of the kingdom of God. The disciples wanted to learn how to pray, so Jesus gave them a teaching on prayer. Discipleship involves explaining, teaching, and equipping.
Our children need instruction. We should not expect them to simply “get it” without clear teaching and explanation. Just like we don’t expect them to learn how to read or write without being taught, we should not expect them to grow in godly character and have a thriving relationship with God without instruction. We can use God’s Word to nourish, teach, and correct our kids as we walk with them.
Not only did Jesus give instruction, He also demonstrated the things He taught. In fact, in the above instance, it was the example of His prayer life that led to the disciples’ desire to learn more about prayer. To disciple others, we must model and demonstrate what we teach.
The same is true in training our kids. It is so important that we lead our children by example. How can we expect them to do things that we are not willing to do? If we do not model it for them, how will they truly learn? Discipling our kids is not simply telling them what to do; it is also showing them by example. They will learn by our instruction, but our demonstration will likely impact them even more.
Jesus passed on His authority and power to His disciples and allowed them to partake of His anointing. Luke 9:1 says, “Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.”
We too can impart to our children. We can pray prayers of blessing over them and speak encouraging words. We can lay hands on them and ask for the Holy Spirit to come upon them and fill them with His grace, love, and power.
After imparting to the disciples, He gave them the chance to step out and minister: “He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:2). They had spent time with Jesus, heard His teaching, watched Him minister, and received of His anointing; now it was their turn to do it themselves. In discipleship, we must provide a context in which to apply the things that are being taught and modeled.
Our kids need the opportunity to put into practice the things that they are being taught. Seeing and hearing is important; but certain aspects of learning only happen by doing. For example, don’t just teach your kids about prayer and worship; provide the place and encourage them to do it themselves. Find ways to give your children the opportunity to have real life application to what they are learning.
We are called to make disciples, and our own children should be first in line. Let’s use the model of Jesus to disciple and train our kids!