Don't Delegate the Discipleship of Your Child, Part 1
Discipleship is difficult.
Discipleship of your child is even more difficult.
A couple months ago my son came home from children’s church and couldn’t recall the lesson at all. Most of the time he is able to tell my wife and I what he learned in children’s church. I found out later that the teacher that week didn’t really do the lesson and just told a story about his life. I started to get frustrated and was ready to talk with the pastor who is also my friend. Before I went to talk to the pastor, God had a talk with me. The gist of the talk is that while it the job of my wife and I to disciple our child. While it is nice when my comes home talking about what he learned from the Bible, it is not my churches job to disciple our child. It is our responsibility.
You see, I was trying to delegate the discipleship of my child. I was trying to take something that God has charged my wife and I with and put that weight upon the church, to put that weight upon the teacher at children’s church. And God convicted me. Convicted me that the church is to aide our discipleship of our child, but never to bear the responsibility of his discipleship.
And from my observations, I am not the only parent who deals with this. This idea of delegating the discipleship of our child has infiltrated our churches. We think that if our child goes to church, goes to children’s church, goes to Wednesday night groups at church, attends youth group, goes on a service project, and maybe even goes to a Christian school, that we have done our part in discipling our children. The reality is if this is all we do to disciple our children… then all we have done is just delegated the discipleship of our children to others. And this will fail.
The Bible gives us a different way. A better way.
In Proverbs, we are given a clear command to disciple our children. A command that is not given to the church, rather it is given to us as parents. I have chosen to use the NLT version because it gives us a clear visual of what the verse means.
Direct your children onto the right path,
and when they are older, they will not leave it. (Proverbs 22:6)
There are 3 phrases in this verse that I want to explore
Direct: Other versions use the word train instead of the word direct. The word direct gives us a more tangible picture of what this verse is saying. One day when explaining to our 8 year old son of why my wife and I enforce rules and boundaries for our son, my wife came up with a great analogy. My wife told our son that our job as parents is to be like the bumpers in bowling. The point of the bumpers is to direct the bowling ball to the pins, to the goal. As parents, it is our job to direct our children to the goal.
Your Children: This one is simple, your children. Our focus has to be on us discipling our children, not having others do it for us.
Right Path: Again, let’s go back to the bowling analogy. Our goal as parents is to direct our children towards the goal. And our goal as parents is to direct our children into Christ-likeness. At the core, discipleship is directing. Depending on what is going on, that directing looks different, but the goal is always the same, to direct our children into Christ-likeness.
Now what this is not, is a formula. Proverbs are not an IF you do THIS, THEN this WILL happen. Proverbs are an IF you do this, THEN this will typically be the outcome. Discipleship is not forcing your child. We can’t force our children to follow the right path. We can’t force them into Christ-likeness, but we can direct them. We are responsible for our we raise our children, but we are not responsible for their actions. They are.
Even With Sex
Talking about sex is the part of the discipleship of our children that is the easiest to delegate. I get it, sex can be uncomfortable to talk about. But our children need us to disciple them in the Biblical view of sex. It is one of the areas that Satan spends the most amount of time, energy, and resources attacking our children. Satan knows that if he can convince our children to live counter to the way of God when it comes to sex and relationships then he can get them to live counter to the way of God in all sorts of other areas in their lives. Satan knows that he can confuse their identity and heap condemnation upon them. So don’t neglect talking about this uncomfortable, yet vital area of discipleship.
In Part 2 we will talk about how we disciple our children.