Hear, O Israel: The Lord 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. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:4–9).
Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight (Proverbs 4:1-7).
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:1–4).
Parents carry their children in their hearts. Their children are very import to them and precious to them. As parents, we want the absolute best for all of our children in every area of life.
A very important truth for all parents to be mindful of is that the best we can give to our children is Jesus. The greatest gift that they can ever receive in life is Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Jesus is eternal life.
So, as parents, we are very wise to do all that we can to help and encourage our children to receive Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.
Once our child is saved, it is one the great responsibilities of Christian parents to disciple them. It is our calling from the Lord to help and guide our children to become strong, vibrant believers who love and follow Jesus Christ in their life and lifestyle.
Why is this so important? First of all, we are commanded to make disciples (Matthew 28:19–20). And this very important calling is to start with ourselves and then move directly to our families – our spouses and children.
So, in considering the great responsibility of discipling our children, just what are some steps or practical “building blocks” we are to utilize?
What are things we can do to effectively and practically carry out this important responsibility?
Let’s consider a few things a parent can do to help their children begin to grow up in the Lord.
The following are some practical things – ideas and suggestions - Christian parents can do to help and encourage their children come to know the Lord and to grow in their faith as well.
- Pray daily with your children. Pray the Lord’s Prayer with them and allow them to lead. Pray Psalm 91 daily with them. Allow them to hear you call their name in prayer daily. Give your children incentives to memorize and learn Bible based prayers.
- Have your child read no less than three chapters in the Word of God daily. You can find shorter chapters – Psalms or simply select a given passage – for younger children. For children who do not yet know how to read, let them repeat short chapters or passages after you.
- Some could be - Psalm 1, Psalm 23, Psalm 100, etc.
- Ask your child questions about what is read. What are two or three important things he/she heard or picked up? What stood out?
- Teach your children to obey the Word of God. Teach them to be doers of the Word of God (James 1:22).
- Teach your children the meaning of each of the Ten Commandments. And have them to memorize them. Teach them to pray the Ten Commandments every day for the church and our nation.
Also, parents, it’s very important for us to recognize this reality: Someone or something will disciple your child, one way or another.
In other words, certain people or things will capture your child’s attention, interest, and/or heart in this world.
Some of these are celebrities, sports figures, television, the internet, things on his/her cell phone, video games, people they “meet” in chat rooms, etc.
Some topics that they come across on the internet may captivate them and their mind and interest.
And yes these things can begin to “disciple” them. Some of these things can begin to mold their thoughts, their thinking, and their perspectives – about life and the world in too many wrong and twisted ways.
And too often the results can be tragic.
Consider sad incidents that you hear of too often in the news.
Some of these news stories include:
- A teenage boy who was shot and killed by an individual as he tried to run away after stealing something.
- Elementary-age children attempting and sometimes succeeding in committing suicide.
- Young people committing suicide after being bullied online or in school.
- Three young girls went off into the woods, and two of them try to stab the third one to death.
- A teen recently walked into his school and began to shoot murdering a number of his classmates.
Tragically, we could go on and on.
Where do these children and youth get the ideas and thoughts to do such things? Too often the Devil - through the internet and social media, TV, and movies - is discipling them in darkness. Too often these young people are consuming darkness by the gallon.
Some of these youths may attend church. But many of them, while they consume darkness and put so much negative info and ideas into their minds, may literally never or almost never, even open a Bible and read it.
Parents, without question, we have much work to do in discipling our own children. And we have much work to do through the church in reaching youth in our communities. Yet greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.
We do not have to be fearful. We simply have to trust our heavenly Father, and diligently be about His business. God can work through each of us as parents to help our children greatly in growing up in the faith.
Not only can we help them to avoid being victims of this wicked world, but we can also help them to become kingdom warriors. And as kingdom warriors, they can help to bring Christ, the solution to all of the world’s problems, to a world that desperately needs Him.