Modeling Family Discipleship
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 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. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” –Deuteronomy 6:4-9
As apprentices to Jesus, we have a perfect model for discipleship – Jesus himself. We strive to become like Jesus, be with Jesus, and do what Jesus did. We are also called to multiply and lead others to those same things. However, unlike Jesus, we all fall short. We cannot become perfect models like Jesus is to us. So how do we multiply? How do we make more disciples if we’re not perfect models? Well, that’s a trick question. We’re not supposed make people be disciples of us or make disciples of certain leaders in our lives. Rather, we are disciples of Jesus. So in regards to modeling discipleship, we lead others to grow to be like Jesus – not be like us. Phew! That takes a burden off of me! That’s great news that I don’t have to be perfect! But burden is not the same as responsibility.
A model serves as a constant in the realm of distractions. Are we being Godly examples for our family and those around us? Are we living out our genuine walk with God and demonstrating true repentance where and when we fall short? A good model walks with a limp, apologizes when they are wrong, and leads others toward spiritual growth. Below are some questions to ask yourself that will help you model discipleship to your family:
- If a stranger took a look at your weekly schedule or read a transcript of every word you said in a day, what do you think they would guess are the most important things in your life?
- Describe how a “walk with God” was or wasn’t modeled for you in your own upbringing.
- What would you like to see repeated from your own upbringing? What would you like to see redeemed or changed for the better?
Read Deuteronomy 4:9 and 6:4-9. Take note of the things God calls us to do “diligently”.
- What do you think it looks like to “care for your own soul”? How would someone care for their soul diligently? What about “teaching your children”?
Our kids learn from how we live. Read Galatians 5:19-23
- What are you struggling with or what have you struggled with that you hope your kids don’t see modeled in you?
- What spiritual habits and fruit of the Spirit would you like to see developed in your kids that you want to work on modeling?
- If your son our daughter asked you, “What’s the difference between someone who is a Christian and someone who isn’t?” how would you respond? What Scriptures would you share with them to help answer this question?
- What are the biggest challenges you face when it comes to . . .
- Personal Bible study? Worship? Rest? Prayer? Fasting? Generosity? Evangelism? Solitude? Confession? Serving? Discipling? Community (Connect Groups)?
- When can/do you have protected times set aside for intentional personal spiritual development?
- If you are married, when can/do you have intentional times set aside for spiritual development with your spouse?
It is important to remember that we are talking about working in healthy rhythms, not trying to condemn anyone or heap guilt on anyone for what may be lacking. Remember that growth is gradual. We should be diligent but also patient. Also, it’s great to be creative and have fun with how you plan to care for you spiritual health in your home.
Here are some times you can have those God-conversations with your family:
Family Meals – plan certain meals that you can share and maybe even cook and clean up together. Check out the weekly kids and youth ministry parent guides for help on this.
Family Prayer – don’t think of this as an hour-long prayer meeting, but at some point in the day pray together as a family, even if it’s just for 60 seconds.
Bedtime Routine – maybe you will miss a few days, but try to develop a routine of reading/praying/talking together with each child.
Family Commute – As you drive the kids to school or activities, leverage your time in the car to sing, pray, and talk together about how the gospel can be lived out.
Family Night – do something fun like a movie night, game night, or go out to your favorite restaurant.
Worship Service – go to church together and afterward talk about what you remember or learned from the teaching. (Ex: fill out teaching notes in Pastor’s Page; talk through Digging Deeper notes; go through Parent Guides from kids/youth ministry)
Family Bible Study/Devotions/Worship – pick a study from Right Now Media, a book of the Bible, or devotional and study it together.
Community – attend a Connect Group with other families for encouragement and accountability.
Sabbath – schedule a full 24-hour day to rest together and do things that fill you up (maybe implement rules like ‘no video games or media’)
Service – pick a service project every month to serve together in.
One-on-One Time – schedule time to invest in one particular child for an afternoon or evening for intentional moments to bond.