I feel like a lot of times in the parent world we’re so busy with jobs, hobbies, family time, meals, cleaning, tasks, maintenance, things outside the home, friends, weekend activities, kids activities, school… so many things that we need to do. But when it comes to our kids’ spiritual well-being, sometimes it’s the last thing we think about. We can have prayer with our kids before bed. We can lead a devotion with our kids during a meal.
I feel that during this season that so many people are home, at-home discipleship, if it existed, has really taken a back burner. And I say “if it existed” because it may have existed before, but also it may not have. A very large population of parents (sometimes including me) bring their kids to church in order for the church leaders to share Christ with them and develop them in their faith. That’s where we expect them to get their faith. But in reality what we’re called to do as parents is to be the primary spiritual leaders for our own children. If you only ate one meal a week, that wouldn’t be good for you physically, but we’re expecting our kids spiritually to be ok with that. And sometimes, as parents we’re even ok with it for ourselves, too.
What does it look like to be a spiritual leader for your kids? There are so many different prayer guides, devotionals, journals to choose from. What devotion do you use? When do you do it? How strict do you need to be? So many questions! If we do pick a plan, like going through a devotion or reading through a small book, and then we pick a time to do it, is our consistency creating legalism in our kids? I don’t mean that harshly, but are we creating something in them that if they don’t meet that expectation they feel that they are a failure in that respect? So what could we do?
We could make at-home discipleship a fluid situation, going beyond a prayer guide or journal, but also showing our kids with our actions and words those things that we’re learning (characteristics, principles, and values) from God’s Word. Because really if the devotion is a five minute time with your kids just reading through a portion of Scripture and then praying, if prayer time is just a “dear God make this happen” I think we are setting our kids up for failure.
If I just gave my kids five minutes a day, I wouldn’t have a relationship with them. I’d be a place holder in their lives. But rather I want to get to know them, I want to play with them, I want them to know me. And I wonder what God feels like when we bring Him our five minutes, or our once a week. I wonder if He’s sitting there saying, “I want that, but I want more. I want the five minutes and I want the rest of the day too. I want to know that I have your mind and your heart and your actions.”
So don’t allow at-home discipleship to be boiled down into a five minute portion of the day, like a devotion or a prayer time. Make it an all-day, every-day continual conversation with your kids and your family about what it means to know, love, and follow Jesus. What would it look like if we as believing parents showed our kids that Jesus is worth more than five minutes? It’s a full time commitment. Would it spark a passion? Would they think, “My dad, he loves Jesus so much that he shows it throughout the day.” Or would they think, “Dad only spent the same five minutes every day praying or reading a devotion with me.”
I think there’s something to say about consistency. Corrie Ten Boom said, “Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.” Are we creating a habit to spark a relationship within our kids? I don’t want it to just be a habit. I want it to be a passion that’s passed on from that spark to my kids. That’s what I want.
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