I am a mom with two amazing kids! Nathan is 15 and Abigail is 9. Over the years, my role as their mom has looked different for whatever season of life they were in.
With each new developmental stage, I am learning how to adjust to meet their needs. When they were babies, they literally depended on me for food and survival. As they began to grow, they have become more and more independent. My 15-year-old likes to think he doesn’t need me at all, but he does … he just might not realize it!
No matter what stage of life our kids are in, our greatest responsibility is leading them to the heart of Jesus. Discipleship begins when our kids are young. The songs we sing and the books we read, all play a part in shaping our children’s hearts. Church plays an important role in the lives of our children, too. It teaches them from a very young age, what matters most in life. As culture changes and more and more compete for our attention, as parents, we have to make a choice of how we lead our kids.
- What is the message they are receiving from you?
- Do you make it a point to be in church every Sunday no matter what?
- Do you choose to only go to church when it is convenient with your schedule?
- Do you constantly put sports or other activities over church?
The last few years my heart has been burdened in the area of discipleship. However, God has shown me that I need to disciple my kids first.
And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders — Deuteronomy 6:6-8.
Live it out
Life can be very busy, and this is something we have to fight for. Find a great devotional that is geared for the ages of your kids and begin to teach them what it looks like to have a quiet time with God. Take the time to pray with your kids on a regular basis. Encourage them to journal out their thoughts and feelings to God. It is also important for us as parents to model this for them. Let them see you sitting with God and reading the Bible. Share with your children what God is teaching you and let that become part of your regular conversation.
About a month ago, my son was going through a tough time. I thought the toddler years were bad! I am learning that every stage has its challenges; the challenges are just bigger as they get older. As we walked through these hard days with him, God gave me insight with what he was going through, and it allowed us to have some really great conversations. I was able to share with him how God helps me through tough times and how he has taught me to shift my mindset when I feel down about something.
My greatest desire for my kids is not to just know about God, but to truly know Him in their hearts. I want them to realize there isn’t anything they can ever do that will make God love them any less.
When life seems overwhelming, I want my kids to know they can run to Jesus and not the things of this world. The only way we can help our children get to that point in their relationship with God, is by being intentional with the way we disciple them and by surrounding them with a community of believers that will pray for them and lift them up.
Proverbs 22:6 says to start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Never too late to start
You can begin by reading a family devotional at night before bed and praying with your kids. This can be a great time to let your kids share what is on their hearts.
If we don’t teach our kids how to do this, then who will?
Our kids are always learning and growing. Would you rather them learn how to grow closer to Jesus or be influenced by the world? Our first and most important role as parents is to disciple our kids to know Jesus.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Karen Blanchard and originally appeared in the Baptist Beacon, the newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan.