Lifestyle Discipleship {for the children}

I wrote this post over a year ago, then somehow forgot it in drafts. I needed to read it today, and hope it encourages you, too! It’s never too early to introduce children to the God who wants to know them personally…

Lifestyle Discipleship

Discipling my children has been a passion of mine since before I even understood and experienced true discipleship myself–I didn’t know what it was called, I just know I wanted my kids to know their Father’s heart at a young age. And when I say young, I mean, I’m wrangling a  7, 4, and 3 year old right now, and it’s not too early to begin. But at that age, with those attention spans, deep Bible study is non-existent. Hours spent reading and studying passages and long, quiet times of prayer and meditation just don’t happen. What does happen is a lot of life, but real life discipleship fits in just fine if I make it a priority. I’m learning to disciple my children with love, words, and example:

Discipling with Love.

More than any other human relationship, the parent-child relationship mirrors that of us with our Maker. We are the children of God. We parents have the perfect format to inform even the most immature minds of how God and His love works in our lives by simply loving our kids as God loves us. 
Simple to say, not easy to live. God’s love is sacrificial (to the point of death!), infinitely patient, incredibly gentle, and ever-so-slow to anger. Loving my children like God loves me goes contrary to my flesh nearly every moment of my day. Yet, whenever I’m feeling at a loss as to how to train, love, or correct my child in a difficult moment, I always gain insight and direction when I think “What would my Father do?”. Loving them like my Daddy loves me is the best gift I can give them, and a solid way to disciple their little hearts before they can even understand the first Scripture I read to them.

Discipling with Words

As I child, I somehow got the impression that I had to wait to be an adult (or, at least, a teenager) before having a close, personal relationship with God. Until the day I met Sarah. She was ten and her face shone with the love of Christ and the joy of knowing Him personally. She was so young, yet she already had a thriving relationship with God. Sarah inspired me that one could come to Jesus as a child, and since that day I have longed to impress the truth on my own children that Christ loves the little children, too.
One of the ways I attempt to show God as real and accessible to my young children is by speaking of Him and my own walk with Him in a casual moments with every-day language on a regular basis. I share with my 7 year old what God spoke to me in my morning quiet time, and assure him that God will speak to him, too (I tell and retell the story of Samuel as proof!). I pray about even the smallest things with my 5 year old, and we praise God for the little things, too–letting a colorful leaf, a treasure found at the thrift store, and a tasty apple all become opportunities to thank and glorify our Father. I tell them “every good gift is from above” (James 1:17) and take very chance to bring God and His love into our every day conversation.

Discipling by Example

What does a disciple look like? He/She is one who is faithful in studying the Scriptures, single-minded in their focus of living for the glory of God, enthusiastic in love and service toward the saints, and actively seeking to reach others with Christ’s love. My children will understand the role of a follower of Christ best when they see it lived out. As their mother, I am their primary example of how to live life. How am I doing? Am I showing them the priority Scripture has in my life by putting it before other books on my bed stand? Do they know I’m more passionate about God and His ways than my own fleshly desires? Do they see me living for others or for myself? As a mother, my children are my mission field. And my example of a life lived for God is my loudest testimony.
In some ways, parenthood is the most challenging form of discipleship because it’s 24/7 and I’m not just responsible for their spiritual growth, but for the care of their mind and body, as well. I never get time off, or a season when they are not my responsibility. And while I’m trying to reach their hearts, I’m also changing their diapers, feeding them, doing their laundry and every other mundane chore that threatens to consume every moment of the day and keep us from every actually sitting down and reading Scripture together. And yet, in every moment of life with my kids, by my choice of attitude, words, and actions, I can show them Christ. Lifestyle Discipleship is not just a great idea, it’s the best strategy for leading young ones to Christ.
What age were you when you realized God wanted to know you personally? How are you discipling your children or those in your circle of influence?

4 responses to “Lifestyle Discipleship {for the children}”

  1. Francis Avatar
    Francis

    Trina, Thankyou sooo much for sharing your heart. I have been walking with the Lord since I was very young and I have 4 children that I homeschool and I really needed to read that. Thankyou again for being transparent and for taking the time to write I don’t know how u have time but it is a blessing to your readers.

    Blessings,
    Francis

    1. Trina Avatar

      Francis, thanks so much for your kind comment and for introducing yourself. So glad to have you join me with this goal.

  2. Teresa Avatar
    Teresa

    Trina, thank you so much for sharing this. I have realized the critical need for not just training, but disciplining children and what you shared has given me some concrete ways for preparing to do that. (I’m not a mother or even married yet). So thank you, and not just for this but for all your sharing on this blog. I’ve been a “stalker” for several years. 🙂 Blessings to you and your family.

    1. Trina Avatar

      Teresa, I’m so honored to have you here! And thank you for sharing your heart. Discipleship is such a passion of mine, and it’s always encouraging to discuss what it can look like for different people in different seasons. Do you have anyone you are discipling right now, even in an unofficial capacity?

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