Do You Desire To Bring Your Child Into The Kingdom?

It's hard enough to be a Christian parent in this world. How do we combat the forces of evil while at the same time raise our children to desire to walk in God's light? By seeking His face, His Word and inspiration from each other as we stumble through this parenting process together. You will find all the instruction, encouragement and resources you need right here at The Greatest Mission Trip You'll Ever Take to help you be the most effective witness to your child that God would have you be. Look around and come back often. Let's learn together.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Making Family Discipleship Deliberate

photo by jenn_jenn

When the children were younger I wondered what it would be like to actually feel fully rested. I put in a full eight-hour day as a section head at a busy metro Atlanta fire academy, teaching classes, writing program proposals and managing a group of other instructors, and then I would come home to tend to the needs of my husband, our two young boys and our home.

After I gave birth to our daughter, I left the fire academy to go work at an area hospital emergency room, where the work was lighter as I managed cardiac patients, trauma victims and the sundry medical emergencies that came in (yes, I’m being very facetious). The hours were better for caring for a baby, but the emotional wear and tear that came from dealing with the ever-present adrenaline surge and nights spent up with a fussy infant didn’t exactly make for a relaxed pace.

Then our son was born and my husband gave in to my desires to be a stay at home mom. It was either that or face a wife bent on making his life miserable if he didn’t. We made certain financial adjustments, not the least of which included the dabbing of tears (his, not mine) as we watched my paycheck disappear from the deposit column in our checkbook.

So started life as a one income family with four children, including a toddler and baby. After a year of this it dawned on me that managing a gunshot victim high on PCP who was wielding an IV pole like a ninja fighter would be easier than being a SAHM. Eventually we decided to teach our younger children at home, putting one more spinning plate up on one of those poles.

My husband and I will be married nineteen years this April. Along the way, his hours on the road have gotten crazier, we’ve moved fifty-two times - okay, four, but it seems like more - and the number of children in our household has looked like a radio wave, from four down to two, then up to three, then back to two, now up to three again.

And what of all the extra-curricular activities, like karate practice and music lessons and young adult Bible study and hanging out with friends and chauffeuring kids to work and youth group and going to the doctor’s office and dental appointments and teaching Sunday school and job loss and financial transition and preparing for retirement and cutting the grass or shoveling snow and astronomical utility bills and….

Anybody with me here?

In the midst of the craziness we call life, how in the world do we find time to disciple our children?

If we leave our discipleship to chance, there’s a better than average shot that it will never happen. There are too many distractions, too many easy excuses to make and the often legitimate need to catch up on rest and sleep that make discipleship difficult to pull off.

How do we fight this? By planning ahead. At the start of each week, as we look over our calendars searching for something that remotely looks like empty space, we plan how we can deliberately witness the gospel to our children. Some ideas:
  • Use travel time to and from activities and appointments to discuss concerns from a biblical view, listen to the Bible on CD or sing along to praise music.
  • Schedule family devotion and prayer time during the meals you take together, making sure you spend several days during the week having dinner as a family.
  • Find an opening somewhere on your calendar and schedule specific family time. Banish phones, personal electronic devices and booking anything in that time slot other than family time. Then engage in an activity that allows your family to connect and relax with each other.
  • Schedule a planned electronic outage. Try going an entire weekend without getting on the internet, turning on the TV or putting anything up to or into your ears. This can be done outside of the planned family time. Not everyone may be home, but those who are can do something that used to be quite common in households, namely TALK. I’ve been doing this myself over the past several weekends, and you know what? I haven’t died. Had a few twitches and moments of anxiety, but they passed pretty quickly.
I kind of hoped by now, with the kids being older and better able to take care of themselves, that rest would be more easy to come by. Apparently that’s not to be. My parents, in their 70s, inform me they are just as busy as they ever have been. What I have to be is more deliberate about how I use my time, especially as it relates to sharing the gospel with my children.

So I ask you, my faithful reader, whose schedule probably looks just as crazy as ours, what will you do this week to be a deliberate witness of Christ to your kids?

What does the schedule look like at your house? Who has the craziest schedule out there?

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JoJo Tabares said...

I homeschool so this is just another subject for us. Always has been. We also discuss this topic throughout the day/week as it comes up. And it comes up a LOT since we are virtually the only Christians in my family. With that much experience with unbelievers, I wrote a book called Say What You Mean: Defending the Faith which answers the most common questions and misconceptions unbelievers have. Not only does it provide the resources needed to answer the question but also (which most other studies of this kind lack) it shares HOW to answer the different people who ask.

I will be teaching an ongoing online class based on this eBook for Christians who are afraid to share their faith or don't really understand how to go about it. They begin in March.

God didn't make cookie cutter people and there is no one size fits all way to share. In fact, that is exactly why some in my family are so unwilling to listen when someone talks about Jesus.

Making disciples of your children is important but we must teach them not just about the Lord but HOW to share their faith so they don't, as Romans 14 says, stumble others.

Deb Burton said...

JoJo, I like how you put the last paragraph. Oftentimes, in our zeal for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ we forget that the presentation might need to be tailored in order to be most effective. Part of our discipleship process, assuming that our child knows their Savior in a personal way, is to teach them how to effectively witness to others.

Many parents, however, still need to focus on being witnesses themselves within their home. We can't have our children witnessing their faith if they haven't made a salvation decision themeselves.

Thanks for sharing another aspect of the discipleship process.