Start Where You Are
When it comes to family discipleship, low-hanging fruit is everywhere. You do not need to create amazing productions or have an archive of profound insights at the ready. Family discipleship does not have to be intricate or complicated. You just need a willingness to focus on the child who is in front of you, and together focus on the God who is everywhere. Even if your kids are practically grown and you are just getting started, be encouraged that all is not lost. One of the most powerful moments you can have with your kids is to own the fact that you wish you would have done these things in the past, that you love them, and that you want to start working through this framework together.
You are a parent walking in a relationship with Christ, the King of kings, who “is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). So you can be Christlike in how you address your household. You can have a relentlessly gracious heart, a gentle touch, a glad tongue, and a granite resolve. At some point, and perhaps often, you will surely encounter disinterest and resistance, which you will readily answer with peaceful persistence. Parents, do not surrender to opposition. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9).
Christ is the master of your heart, and he himself came not to be served but to serve and give his life away for others (Matt. 20:28). You can likewise tirelessly serve the needs of your children by being strong when they need strength and being wise when they need wisdom.
You can always be prepared to make a defense to your children anytime they ask you for a reason for the hope that is in you, and yet you’ll always do it with gentleness and respect (1 Pet. 3:15). You can have the confidence and competence to boldly dare to lead, risking failures. Mistakes will be made but risks must be taken in order to boldly endeavor to fulfill your role. In the Chandler home, we have failed a million times, and I’m positive our kids will forget most of those. Errors can be undone. As a wrong turn can be compensated for by recalculating your route, you will walk back your missteps and then proceed down the right path undeterred. Errors can be overcome. A heartfelt apology and a hug can reunite a wounded friendship; own your mistakes and liberally apply grace to one another. Errors go hand in hand with human efforts. But don’t only accept that mistakes will be made, embrace that every one is an opportunity for grace and growth. Persevere undaunted and grateful for the lessons.
It is great to parent carefully, but we should remain mindful not to wander into cowardice. You have been entrusted with the rearing of the next generation, and that responsibility must be handled thoughtfully and wisely. You should be careful when discerning what influences you allow, which situations your kids should face, and which they should flee from. Being careful, though, should not make you a coward, sheltering your kids from any chance of failure or discomfort. We hope you never have to see your children face immense spiritual, physical, or emotional danger, but if or when they do, we pray you will not react in a spirit of timidity. We pray you will react bravely, trusting in the Lord.
We also pray you would not be careless or reckless with their lives, disregarding wisdom to thrust them into the fray. Parent courageously, but do not stray into carelessness. Balance trust in God with godly wisdom to avoid both overprotecting and overexposing your kids. There are a great many dangers to be faced in this world, and you must have the backbone to help your children face them with both tenacity and wisdom. Strive to trade self-centered fears and worries for God-centered trust and wisdom. Let courage and carefulness direct your steps as you labor to raise kids who will walk in the fear of the Lord.
Foster a culture of development and dedication in your household. Ask yourself, “What do I want my kids to be able to do on their own?” and take steps to train them to do it. Now you know the importance of family discipleship, but don’t be surprised by how easy it will be to forget and become distracted. Sometimes it is easy to wake up, but it is hard to stay awake. You will get tired, and you will be tempted to relent or let things slide because you are exhausted by everything else life throws at you, “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isa. 40:31).
Don’t be surprised if radical changes in your family do not happen overnight. Personal heart change and sanctification, in you as well as your children, can be remarkably slow. Many of the transformations the Lord works in this world are imperceptibly incremental, progressing degree by undetectable degree. Only a fool plants an acorn in the evening and comes back in the morning looking for an oak. Your work to cultivate that change will be painstaking and gradual, unfolding over a lifetime.
This article is adapted from Family Discipleship: Leading Your Home through Time, Moments, and Milestones by Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin.
In Jesus's call to make disciples everywhere and to teach his commandments entirely, we can be absolutely sure that this imperative includes those disciples we will make in our own homes.
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