I’ve been thinking a lot about the way that we are to disciple our children as well as fellow believers. It has been an interesting study for me.
I am amazed at the amount of parenting advice that we are given that talks about forcing external behaviors and training our children as if they are animals. That does not produce the love and respect it claims. That produces outward compliance and inner anger. It ignores the heart and goes against everything that we are taught as believers.
1 Thess 2: 7 “We proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children, having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us….you are witnesses and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”
Note that it doesn’t say “forcing you to do our will”. It says “exhorting and encouraging and imploring.” Isn’t that beautiful? What amazing imagery! Sadly I don’t think this is a trait that our nation has passed on to its fathers.
Deuteronomy 6:6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
This is how we disciple our children. This is how we teach them! We teach through our lives. We teach by telling them about God. We teach them by modeling a personal relationship with Christ. This is the way that God teaches us. Its the way that we teach other believers. It is “exhorting and encouraging and imploring.” What a beautiful cycle where everyone grows!
That is the most amazing part for me. When I see an area in our house where we are having character issues, it is not just a problem with a certain family member. It is a reflection of issues that we all have. If I was just punishing them rather than discipling, then I would not have the chance to correct it in myself and seek God in that area. When we work on character rather than outward compliance, it forces us to look at ourselves and see where we are modelling the opposite of what we want. It pushes me into the scriptures and into prayer to seek God and what He has told me about a subject so that I can “impress them upon [my] children.” What an opportunity for growth!
My kids have already taught me so many lessons. I have learned about selflessness, patience, unconditional love, innocence, having a tender spirit, trust, faith, and so much more. I am so glad that we are able to learn together I can’t imagine it any other way!