“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'” Matthew 28:16-20
Before ascending to Heaven, Jesus issued a mandate. It was a command. We are to go and make disciples, to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to teach them to observe Christ’s commands.
If we are to be followers of Christ, we are to make disciples.
In Ephesians 6:4, Paul says: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
So, what do we do? We put our boys in baseball. We buy them soccer cleats, sew badges on their sashes, and make sure they never, ever run out of LEGOs. (Guilty).
We buy our little girls princess crowns, strap on their ballet shoes, and plot our trip through Disneyland.
We talk about the day we will one day take up our cross and follow Jesus. The day when our kids are raised, when we will go do that disciple-making thing. For now, there are cupcake decorating tips to gather on Pinterest, tweets to send about silly childish behavior, and fun Elmo-themed sheets to purchase. We’re busy. Too busy to think about the last thing Jesus said here on earth. Too busy to re-structure our home, or our day… too busy to obey. We have to get to soccer practice, put dinner on the table, get out the door to our girl’s-night-out. We’ll get back to Jesus and His mandates later.
Or maybe that’s just me. Some days, I get so busy creating a great childhood for my kids, that I forget that I’m raising adults. (Some days – if we’re to be honest – I get really involved in just surviving.) My job is not to give my kids all I can. My job is to train my children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. My job is to make disciples … right here, inside my front door. My children will quickly become adults. They’ll set out on their own journey in life, and they’ll either walk with the Lord – or they won’t. Now, I know that I can’t “save” my kids. My children’s relationship with Christ is between them and the Lord.
However, I can effectively disciple my children as they grow. I can repeatedly point them to Scripture. I can model a life patterned after Christ.
Friends, we can raise a generation of children for Christ. We can, we should… we will. Are you with me? I talked about intentional parenting in Map in Hand: Setting the Course in Intentional Parenting. We can pick up our cross for Christ right now, live out the Great Commission right now… and we can do it in our pajamas. At the dinner table, we can become missionaries to the lost, mentors to the newly saved. Our children are crying out for Jesus, and we can help lead them in the way that they should go.
We can raise thinking kids in an unthinking world. We can be thinking parents.
For the next five months – the remainder of 2012 – we’ll talk once a week about specific ways to disciple our children. We’ll discuss the challenges, the resources, and the thought processes involved in discipleship. For August, we’ll concentrate on discipling your littles – those new gifts from God under the age of three. We’ll start next Friday. By Christmas, we’ll have talked about discipling our children through youth and into adulthood. I have two adult children, and – believe me - the mentoring and discipleship doesn’t stop once they move to a new home!
That’s the plan. This is the kick-off.
Join me in August to talk about discipling the littles. We may talk a bit about surviving the littles. Let’s be honest: those are some busy, mind-blurring years!
- Kids, Mommy’s Not a Liar
- Bible for the Littles ~ Inspiring Awe and Excitement for God’s Word
- Living Life on Their Level ~ Showing Jesus to the Littles
- Fatigue and the Unexpected in the Baby and Toddler Years
In September, we’ll talk about ages 4-7.
We’ll hit the middle grades in October; 8-12 year olds are at a crucial point!
In November, we’ll discuss discipling our teens (ages 13-18).
We’ll wind up our discipleship series in December, when we’ll talk about ways that we can reach our adult children – and their kids as well. (Did you know I became a grandma this year? I did! I’m a new grandma, though. You may have some things to teach me!)
We’re raising grown-ups. We’re discipling children for Christ. I’ve decided that my homeschool manifesto makes a great parenting motto. We educate our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, to the glory of the Lord, in the joy of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4, 1 Cor. 10:31, Phil. 2:14-15)
Are you with me?
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is a children’s writer with a love for God’s Word, history, wisdom and small people. Her work has appeared in magazines including Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr.; Upper Room Ministries’ Pockets and Devozine; CBH Ministries’ Keys for Kids, and Cobblestone Group’s FACES and Odyssey. Her work also appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters.