I’m going to give you four super simple things to do to start discipling your kids and being their spiritual leader…even if you are legitimately clueless. If you feel like you have no business teaching anyone anything about spiritual things, help has arrived! SO many of you have told me this is where you are. Let’s take a quick look at that first.
So, apparently, I’m supposed to be teaching my kids spiritual things. I’m supposed to be discipling them? I still need to be discipled…a lot! How in the world am I supposed to be a spiritual authority and teacher when I have no idea what I’m doing? My kid would probably laugh in my face! But I don’t want to be disobedient, so I’m really stuck. Seriously, Jen, what am I supposed to be doing here?
Believe It or Not, Cluelessness Doesn’t Get You off the Hook
If you’ve given any thought at all to our God-ordained responsibility to mentor our own kids’ spiritual lives, you’ve thought at least part of that. We all have. Brand-new Christian, or pastor–every last one of us is riddled with self-doubt. And we look around and see other people who actually seem to be equipped to do a better job. Why can’t they just do it? The stakes are high, and we don’t want to mess up.
That’s not to say we can’t or shouldn’t enlist other great mentors to come alongside our kids in their spiritual growth. Do that! But the primary spiritual teacher in your kid’s life…is YOU.
God knew what He was doing when He put that child in your care, in your home, and under your watch. Do you really think He looked down and said, “Oops! I meant to put that child in the next-door neighbor’s house, not in that one!”? He knows the end from the beginning, and He knew where He wanted your kids to grow up. With you!
The Biblical Model
If you’re overwhelmed by this idea, you’re in good company. Most of us didn’t experience home discipleship in our own lives, so it feels more secure to leave this big job in the hands of people who actually know what’s up. But, here’s why you have to take it back into your own hands (NASB):
Sunday School teachers parents–] “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You [
children’s and youth pastors parents] shall teach them diligently to your students sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your small group house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy 6:4-7
Christian children’s TV show Fathers, do not provoke your viewers children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
“The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his
hermeneutics teacher mother.” Proverbs 29:15
How to Do What You Don’t Know How to Do
Let me give you FOUR ways you can very easily start discipling your kids, and you can start this week. Or even today. Any one of these will get you started, and if you’ll be faithful with it, God will bless it and give you favor. And it will build over time. Nothing but good stuff ahead!
Think about this–Five years from now, it will be five years from now. Whether you’ve put in five years of mentoring or not. What could you do if you had almost 22 hours of mentoring with your child? If you only put in 5 minutes a week for the next 5 years, you’ll get that. With just 5 minutes!
1. Teach What You Already Know
Scroll back up for a second and reread the Deuteronomy 6 verse. See the model? God teaches the parents, who turn around and teach their kids. You’re depending on God to teach you, and He will deliver every time when you sit at His feet with a teachable mind and heart.
When we teach, all we’re really doing is learning from God and then telling someone what we learned.
Here’s something to take some pressure off. To disciple someone, the only requirement is that you know something they don’t know yet. It doesn’t require a doctorate in theology, just one bit of knowledge to share. That’s really it. So, take one thing you know, and teach it to your child. It can be:
- a Bible story
- an insight or fact about a Bible story
- something you learned in Bible study
- an insight or fact about a person in the Bible
- a story from your own life
- a story from someone else’s life
- something you heard in a sermon
- something you learned in Sunday School or small group
If you’re fairly new to the faith, just be sure you’re teaching something you know for sure is true. We hear a lot of things that are interesting or intriguing, but don’t hold up under scrutiny. Teaching comes with responsibility, so just be sure. And when you make a mistake, and find out later you gave wrong information, no big deal. Admit your error, correct it, and keep moving. You’ll actually gain credibility when you do that.
If you need some material, here’s a cheat sheet of some podcasts you can listen to in the car or at home. Don’t feel like you have to listen to a podcast all the way through if you don’t have time. Remember, you’re just trying to stay a step ahead!
2. Super Simple Way to Meditate on Scripture Together
You can do this on your own or together with your child. All you do is take a verse or passage, read all the way through it, and then reread it with an emphasis on a different word. Start with the first word, next time do the second word, and so on. Here’s an example (Psalm 23:1):
- The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
- THE Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. (“The” calls your mind to the fact that there is only one Lord. We have one God and one authority.)
- The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. (“Lord” calls your mind to the identity of your shepherd, the only shepherd.)
- The Lord IS my shepherd, I shall not want. (“Is” calls your mind to the truth that He is what He says He is in His Word–in this case, my shepherd.)
- And so on.
Pretty cool, huh? And it couldn’t be easier. As you walk through a verse this way, God’s Word will open itself up to you, layer by layer. When you’re doing this together with your child, you’re going deeper together, connecting your hearts together by binding them in Scripture.
3. What Did You Learn in Your Quiet Time?
As I was writing this, I saw a video with Robby Gallaty, who actually gave this exact advice to parents! I’ll take that confirmation and run with it. If you are doing a quiet time every day, or every week, simply take what God revealed to you in that time, and share it with your child. There may be a context for why God showed you that when He did. If so, share that. This is similar to “Teach What You Already Know” above, but it’s real-time.
As you do this consistently, just watch. See how God intentionally shows you things He wants you and your disciple to know. He’ll put you in a curriculum!
This also models for your child the importance of spending time alone with God as part of the flow of your day or week. Eventually, you’ll want to disciple your child into having his own quiet time, and then you can talk together about what God showed you both individually. Picture that. It’s awfully sweet.
4. If You’re Going to Start with One Paid Resource, Try This
I’ve reviewed Family Time, and I really can’t recommend it with enough enthusiasm! If you are clueless and want to do something as a family to disciple your kids, this is it, my friends. Teaching kids with object lessons is time-tested. That’s how God has always taught us because people learn better that way. If you want to read a little more about that, here’s my post Why You Need Popsicle Sticks, Rocks, and Food Coloring to Disciple Your Kids.
Family Time activities are especially good if you have younger kids, although they have some “all ages” activities, too. Here’s what makes these foolproof: They tell you everything you need to know, right down to a “script” you can read. It gives you your verse, a list of supplies, what to say, how to do the activity together, and what to say to wrap up. This is what we did when we first started doing discipleship in our home. We were exactly where you are now. We had no idea what we were doing, and Family Time materials gave us everything we needed to do it, anyway. The best part is that the kids LOVED it, and still remember what they learned!
When you sign up for their newsletter, you’ll get a free activity every month. With their permission, I have an archive of a bunch of those free activities HERE. Try a few out, and see what you think.
Once you see how great they are, you’ll want to go beyond the freebies. You can order the books here, or sign up for Total Access, their online searchable database of all their activities. Having these made my job easier because I could look through to find an activity on a particular subject, or find one I already had all the materials for! If I saw one I loved but needed to pick up a few things, I could add them to the shopping list so I’d have them next time.
Another source of free Bible object lesson ideas is my Pinterest board: Object Lessons and Activities for Bible Lessons. I love that board and add to it all the time!
Okay, It’s Your Move!
So, there are four really easy ways to get on with it, so…get on with it! Don’t let fear or insecurity get in the way. God blueprinted this design for passing on the faith, and He knows what He’s doing. He’s not leaving you on your own, and He’s not looking on you with a critical eye–unless you’re not taking care of your kids’ spiritual lives. Do the job He gave you do, and do it to the best of your ability today. As you grow, your ability will grow. But you start right where you are, and trust God to fill in the gaps.
Any of these ideas will get things going. I’m excited for you! You should be excited, too, because God is just waiting to treat you to some really special, really cool family moments, and you don’t want to miss those.
A last word of encouragement– It’s not too late! If your child is already a teenager, don’t spend one more minute wishing you had done any of this before. You didn’t. And you can’t do anything about it. It’s okay. You’re here now, and you have today. Use it.
Which one of these four ideas jumps out as the one you want to start with? Let me know how that first discipling session goes. And let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help!