What wouldn’t you be willing to sacrifice for a child? If you are anything like me, you would do almost anything: punch a charging she-bear, somersault in front of a speeding train or offer yourself as tribute to a would-be kidnapper. And on a smaller scale, you would skip a meal so they could eat, miss work so they could heal and stay up all night so they could rest. When a child’s well-being is on the line, it is the adult’s pleasure and duty to “give up” so they can “get.”
As significant and valuable as the physical welfare of a child is, it pales in comparison to the welfare of their immortal and irreplaceable soul. What wouldn’t you sacrifice for the sake of a child’s soul? Consider then the role we, particularly parents, can play in nurturing the eternal, spiritual nature of a child. The fruit of our family discipleship, or neglect thereof, may echo forever. This is a good and sobering thing to consider.
The responsibility of spiritually leading the next generation is tremendous, and the Lord calls us all to be part of the work with Him. To paraphrase the words of the apostle Paul, we can plant seeds of faith and water them, but it is only God who can make them grow. So while it is true that God alone saves and grows faith in the human heart, we cannot, even for one day, neglect our call to plant and cultivate truth in the lives of children. It is through these efforts that the Holy Spirit has chosen to work.
Eat, Play, Sleep
When I first became a parent, I was intimidated. It was daunting to consider how much that little life depended on me. The best piece of advice I received in that season came from my older brother, Ben. He told me that most of us are born with very simple needs, and as my son’s needs grew, so would my confidence and skill set in caring for him.
In addition, my wife taught me a very simple rhythm for physically nurturing our newborn: He needed to eat, play and sleep. He did these three things all day, every day and sometimes all night. Eat – Play – Sleep. Throw in the occasional bath and diaper blowout of course, but other than that, Eat – Play – Sleep. Focusing on these physical needs kept my goals and responsibilities clear and simple.
If most of us wouldn’t think of letting a day go by without addressing the physical needs of a child, is it not paramount then that we afford an even greater focus and effort to addressing their spiritual needs every single day?
Read, Pray, Sing
If the thought of nurturing spiritual needs in your children causes worry or anxiety, don’t be discouraged. Family discipleship doesn’t have to be complicated or daunting. The Lord can use your faithfulness in a few simple things for a few minutes a day to transform your heart and the hearts of your children. Of course it will be difficult, messy and frustrating at times, but as painstaking a process as family discipleship can be, it is eternally worth it.
Family discipleship can be as simple for a child’s spiritual welfare as the approach for the physical welfare of a newborn. But instead of Eat – Play – Sleep, our spiritual refrain is Read – Pray – Sing.
Reading Scripture to or with your child doesn’t necessarily take a lot of planning beforehand. Read a chapter of Proverbs, a narrative, a memory verse, or just read in order through the Bible. If you have a very simple understanding of the Bible, start with just reading and, as your kids grow, so will your confidence and skill set in applying Scripture and hearing what God is saying.
Praying is as simple as speaking out loud to God the Father. Take prayer requests from each family member and keep track of how your family sees God answer. Pray for what you are grateful for and for what you would like to see happen in the name of Jesus and according to His will.
Singing is as natural to a child as sleeping or eating, regardless of their age. It is a perfect conduit for giving God what He deserves—our worship and affection—and for giving children the truth of the Word in a way that they can catch, follow and repeat, even before they are capable of grasping the meaning.
Read – Pray – Sing. It is not complicated, yet it can be incredibly profound. Maintaining this handy rhythm keeps the preparation and implementation of family discipleship simple.
A Guide to Family Discipleship
Read – Pray – Sing is just the tip of the iceberg for the critical call to discipleship. For many of us parents, we became so without ever being equipped to spiritually lead our families. For that reason, The Village has created a Family Discipleship Guide as a resource for you to begin or bolster discipleship in your home.
Regardless of your family makeup, the simple tenets of the family discipleship framework presented in the guide will apply to your family. Read – Pray – Sing and other ideas like it help to take away the potentially intimidating nature of something so important. Consider dedicating some time to walking through the guide and establishing a sustainable rhythm of spiritual leadership. Feel the peace and pleasure of leading your family in the will of the Lord.