Thoughtful fathers do it.
Deadbeat Dads do it.
Neglectful moms are actively involved in it.
Loving mothers do it.
If you’re a parent, you’re doing it.
You are discipling your children.
Many parents might be tempted to look over their shoulder wondering if this reference is for the person standing behind them but, no. It’s applies to you and to me and to every parent.
Purposeful or not, discipleship is taking place in the lives of your children.
What is Discipleship?
Discipleship is the process of teaching someone else what to believe and how to live. As parents, we’re doing that everyday – on purpose or by default. It’s the one thing parents can’t avoid.
Sometimes discipleship is done through direct teaching – like Jesus’ approach with his disciples. He often discipled them through direct teaching even if they didn’t immediately understand his meaning. They also learned how to live by watching how Jesus interacted with others , like the rich young ruler, Jesus’ habit of seeking time alone to pray, or the woman at the well.
What are we Teaching by How we are Living?
And so it is with parenting. Sometimes we teach our children directly, sometimes we teach them by how we are living. Every child has a microscope through which he/she observes how Dad and Mom live. And, they take very good notes, too! Discipleship takes place proactively and by default based on what our children observe.
Even for that “deadbeat dad” or neglectful mom, mentioned above – even in their absence or through selfish choices – their children are observing, learning, absorbing . . . being discipled to a way of thinking and living. No parent gets a pass.
Which brings us to a question: What is being taught in your home regarding, say, the subject of marriage? What is your “discipleship message” on that topic? Not the words you’ve been teaching about marriage but the message you’ve been sending to your children based on how you have been living in those non-direct teaching moments?
Based on how you treated your wife, today, what did you teach your daughter to expect from men?
Based on how you spoke to (or about) your husband, today, what did you teach your son to look for in a wife?
How about all those little choices made throughout the day . . . choices observed with increasing understanding by young children?
No child ever followed the admonition, “Do what I say, not what I do.”
As parents, our discipleship program continues 24/7 without interruption.
To be entrusted by God with the nurturing of a little life is an amazing privilege. It’s also an immense responsibility. Who our children are becoming is the direct result of our shepherding of their hearts – by what we teach and by what our manner of life teaches when we aren’t saying anything.
The Scriptures instruct, “Train up a child in the way he should go . . .”
As parents, we’re training our children all the time. By God’s grace (and our obedience) let’s ensure we’re training them in the way they should go by what we say and by what we do.
God bless you, Dad & Mom.
Matt Jacobson is a biblical marriage coach and founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage, parenting, and discipleship ministry providing written and audio teaching, as well as couples marriage coaching. He is the co-host (with his wife, Lisa) of Faithful Life Podcast and is author of the bestseller, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!).