How to Disciple Your Kids...Badly
About a year ago, we had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Rob Rienow of Visionary Family Ministries at Johnson Ferry. He spoke to nearly 600 parents over three different hours, sharing the message that parents have a calling and responsibility to disciple the kids in their homes.
But in the middle of his talk (which I heard three times), he shared a little nugget of truth that was a game-changer for many, including myself. It was the best advice on parenting that I have gotten in a long time. I'll tell you about it, but first, a little background.
Rob suggested that our homes should be "discipleship centers" where our primary goal as parents is to teach our children to know God and to pursue Him as the primary focus of their lives. He pointed out the charge found in Deuteronomy 6:5-9...that we are to "teach (the truths of God) diligently to your sons 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 up."
He asked each group the same question: "When should we be teaching and discipling our kids?" A person in all three groups shouted out the same answer: "All the time." He had to break the news to each of them that they were wrong. He suggested that if we aren't doing anything to pour Christ and His truths into our kids and we find out that we are commanded by God to do it "all the time," then we will all give up as failures before we even start. it's just too big of a task.
Rob took us back to Deuteronomy 6 and pointed out the four key, power-packed times that God asks parents to spiritually connect with their kids:
1. When you sit in your house (a brief time of family Bible study and prayer)
2. When you walk by the way (that's car time in our culture)
3. When you lie down (at bedtime)
4. When you rise up (first thing in the morning)
Then he gave the great parenting advice I mentioned earlier. Rob gave a powerful quote by G.K. Chesterton that should be an encouragement to each of us:
"If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing...badly."
When Rob gave the quote and paused after the word "doing," the entire room responded with "right." Because that's what we have heard. "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right." But Rob's point was that we can dream about the "right" way to teach our kids and to pray with them and to share spiritual truth, but usually our dreams involve great big plans that we never get to. So we end up doing nothing.
Here's the lesson I learned: If passing on spiritual truth to my kids (via reading the word or reminding them of God's perspective or even just in praying for them and with them) is important, then I should start doing it somehow, even if I stink at it.
It may be small. It may be simple. It may even be done badly. But I must start somewhere.
Is passing on your faith to your kids important to you? Then start doing it, even if it is through something as simple as a prayer on the way to school, a bedtime story from a Bible storybook, or a quick proverb texted to your teenager. As long as you do it with grace, care, and a bit of prayerful consideration, you'll be okay. And because this is one of those things that God is passionate about, He will certainly be there with you.
Remember, you don't have to do something grandiose. You have to crawl before you can walk.
"If discipleship in your home is worth doing, it's worth doing badly." That's great advice for every parent.