We who are dads have some unique challenges with making disciples. Moms have a built in “disciple-maker gene” that is given by God, but dads tend to be more focused on providing income than on nurturing children.
The good news is that Jesus, the ultimate Man showed us how to make disciples. He “adopted” a group of men and “parented” them for over 3 years. Jesus told His disciples to follow Him and then He personally did the discipling. As a family they lived together, worked together and ministered together 24/7. He was frequently teaching them throughout each day (Deut. 6) and He was showing them how to minister to others. Finally, He protected His disciples by being physically with them. He didn’t send them out until they were fully trained, and then He sent them out with another Christian adult for protection, and they were grown men! That is the exact model that dads (along with moms) are wise to follow today.
What are some practical ways for dads to disciple their children for Christ? Here is my top ten list:
1. Develop a habit of confessing sin to the Lord and to your family. We all blow it and we need to set the right example for our family in confessing sins. If you are just now starting to disciple your children, you can begin by repenting for not making disciples of them in the past. I didn’t start intentionally discipling my children until my daughter was almost ten years old. I regret that fact and have confessed that to my her more than once. You might as well be real with your family and this will reduce any appearance of hypocrisy in your life. Ask the Lord to “restore in your life and your children’s lives what the locust have devoured.” We all make mistakes, but the Lord can restore the damage that has been done by the devil. In our own strength we can’t make disciples anyway. We need help from the Lord!
2. Look for ways to read and discuss scripture. Like Jesus, when you are with your children teach them when you arise, when you travel in your car, when you are at home, and when you lie down(Deut. 6). Keep a copy of the Bible in your car so that you can seize opportunities to read scripture no matter where you are.
3. Teach your children to teach. Who gets the most out of a teaching? The teacher! Give your children opportunities to teach the Bible to the family from time to time. If you are doing the teaching, ask questions to your children to engage them and so they can articulate what they believe. This is a great way to solidify a biblical worldview.
4. Have family worship/devotions daily. Don’t make a big deal out of having devotions; this can be easy! The three elements of family worship are singing spiritual songs, reading scripture and prayer. Buy some worship song books and take turns selecting songs that your family can sing together. From the time your baby is out of the womb, read scripture to them every chance you get, but at least daily. Don’t believe the evolutionists who say that little children can’t learn from the Word of God. Children rise to the level at which they are taught. Lastly pray with your family and for your family. You can have devotions anywhere; in your car, in your home, at the park, hotel room. Have your family take turns reading scripture, selecting hymns and praying. Ask your children what the Lord is teaching them today. Ask them what the scriptures are saying. If the Holy Spirit leads you, explain what you have read or share a testimony. Adjust the length of time for ages of your children; a good rule of thumb is one minute of teaching for every year of age. If you do this consistently family worship/devotions can become the center of all you do as a family; it can help calm your hearts and establish harmony in your family.
5. Spend more time with your family. Instead of waiting for a vacation once a year, do something fun every week; the park, the lake, the zoo. Do ministry together. Talk about the goodness of the Lord while you are together! Find ways to be together, play together, play games at home, do hobbies together. Doing so will reduce time spent with foolish peers. Proverbs 13:20 says “Those who walk with the wise shall become wise, and the companion of fools will be destroyed.” Since children are born with a foolish nature (Prov. 22:15), better that they spend time with you and your spouse!
6. Really get to know each child. There are no shortcuts to developing a relationship with your children. Spend time with each child; go on outings and “dates” with them. Win their hearts!
7. Be discriminating about what goes into your family’s eyes, ears and hearts. Jesus didn’t expose His disciples to false teaching; He warned them about it. Consider the fact that entertainment helps no one other than the seller of the entertainment! It is better to choose activities that will benefit your family or others that you are ministering to. Reject much of Hollywood’s junk; the lion’s share is coming from a non-biblical worldview. Watch for unbiblical themes and discuss with your children. When you select entertainment, look for Christian movies and DVD’s; there is an abundant supply of Christian offerings these days. Get rid of cable or subscribe selectively. Choose Christian music; it is now available in every genre. Be careful about what your children read. Install an internet filter on your computer and locate it in a public area to protect your family. For adults, Covenant Eyes is an excellent software program that keeps you accountable to another adult.
8. Dads, you must find ways to involve the family in your life. This can be difficult for fathers, especially those who have outside employment. However, there are some things that you can do. You can choose jobs that allow for more family time. I know a dad who took a job that allows him to be home two days per week. Start a hobby that your family can do together. There are also home-based jobs that allow entire families to be involved with their dad.
9. If possible, adjust your lifestyle to allow one parent to stay home. In today’s virtual work environment many jobs are being created that are home-based. Look for employers that allow work from home or consider starting a home-based business. Choose less expensive homes and cars which would allow one parent to be at home to disciple the children.
10. Find a ministry with which you can involve your children. There are needy people all around you. Ask the Lord to lead you to a ministry you can do as a family. Show them how to minister, to meet physical needs and to pray for others.
Choosing some of the above activities and doing them on a regular basis will make a huge impact on your family. Your children and wife will begin to view you as the spiritual leader at home. You will have fewer regrets in the future. Fix your eyes upon Jesus and disciple like Him!