Our first priority in making disciples is not in the faraway nations of the world, but our children are our first ministry. We want to make disciples of our little ones. Our goal is not converts ("Susie accepted Jesus when she was 10 months old, but doesn't like church anymore), but rather disciples ("Susie accepted Christ as a young girl, but she has been growing closer to Jesus in the past three years, there has been much transformation!). The question we ask about our children is not "Have they accepted Christ?", but "Have they accepted Christ and are they growing in the Lord?".
The responsibility to make disciples in our home does not belong to your pastor, your teen leader, your children's pastor, or your wonderful homeschool curricula. The responsibility to instruct our children in the Lord and His ways belongs to us! No one can take the place of godly parents who love Jesus, model a godly Christian life, and mentor their children to follow in their footsteps.
Read the Word of God
The Word of God is living and active, able to transform lives. Start reading the Bible to your children as soon as they are born. If you never have begun this practice, start right away. Read the Bible together as a family and teach your children the habit of personal devotions.
"What did you read today?" I asked Jimmy as he reached for the cereal to pour himself a bowl.
"Nehemiah...about the wall. Did you know.....?" Jimmy was sharing what he had read in his Quiet Time with me. I love to hear about what he is learning from God. My desire is that they continue the habit of daily personal devotions the rest of their lives.
"I lost an account today and the business was already struggling," Mike shared with me over the phone. "Can you gather the children and pray?"
"Of course, honey, I love you." I know the drill well. If there is a crisis in our family, we gather together and pray. You see, we believe that God hears us when we cry out to Him. Our children see and know that God answers prayer.
We love to sing to the Lord in our family. We can sing along with CDs or play our own music to love our Beloved Heavenly Father. There was a year that we gathered with another homeschooling family once a week to worship together. We were very expressive in our worship with clapping, lifting hands, bowing down, and jumping. The children grew as worshippers that year because it was such a small group, instead of a large congregation, to learn to worship in. Each one of the children from both families is still expressive in worship.
Require Obedience and Honor
"How do we obey, Sarah Joy?" Mike asked our little toddler.
"Immediately, completely, and cheerfully," she responded quickly.
When our children were little, we taught them to obey right way with a cheerful heart. If they did not obey immediately, cheerfully, and completely, we did not lose our temper and yell at them. We simply disciplined them in love, walked them through their disobedience, let them ask for forgiveness, and prayed with them to be obedient in the future.
Training our children to obey us while they live under our roof and are under our authority is giving them a pattern for obedience to our Heavenly Father. We want our children to obey the Lord immediately, completely, and cheerfully. As a pastor's wife, I can tell you, most Christians struggle to obey God immediately, cheerfully, and completely, suffering the consequences in their lives.
Build Godly Habits in Your Children's Lives
Much of godly character comes down to habits of self-discipline. Polite communication, table manners, healthy eating and hygiene, Quiet Times, study skills, reading for pleasure, exercise, thinking of others' needs, and going to church are all good habits that can be instilled in our children's lives. Model the habits you want to see in their lives. Then instruct them in these habits. "Put your napkin in your lap, honey," you say to your three year old son, giving him a gentle reminder to build a habit in the area of table manners.
The Next Steps
In the next sections of this article, we will talk about mentoring your child, being planted in a local church, and reaching the lost.
May God bless you richly as you mentor the next generation in your own home during school hours!
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)