Jesus did it. He modeled it. Then he commanded it. If you want to be my follower, this is how we're going to do it. This is how we're going to reach the lost and raise up more followers. Make disciples...who make disciples. This is the mission of the one who calls himself "Christian".
We are all making disciples every day. The question is, to what or to whom are we discipling people? What is it we're modeling for them? Who is it we are pointing and leading them to? If the one who is watching my life is watching intently, am I leading him to materialism? Self-sufficiency? Gluttony? Vanity or pride? Am I leading her to bitterness? Or apathy?
Or am I leading him to Jesus?
This past Sunday I had the opportunity to share a little bit of what it tangibly looks like for me to disciple my son. He's a 9-year old lightning bolt, who also happens to be a sponge. He's soaking up everything I do and say. He's hanging on my words - my affirmations - and waiting to see how I respond and react. Because I know for many parents it's an incredible challenge to feel overwhelmingly confident that we actually know what we're doing raising our children, I want to share a little of what it looks like in our lives.
I coach my son in baseball. I love it! Whether we're headed to the batting cage, in the back yard throwing the ball, coming home from practice, or clearing our stuff out of the dugout after a tough loss, I look for any and every opportunity to speak the truth of God's Word into his life. These moments happen more than any other time in the car - just me and him. I ask him questions. His answers often give me a chance to say, "Nathan, do you know what Jesus said about this?" Of course, there are also those times when his response blows me away, because I realize that he's already becoming aware of the need for God's standard in his life. I'm also going to say that Philippians 2:5-11 and 4:6-8 probably come up in our conversations more than any other scripture.
You have to be in the Word to share and teach the Word to your kids.
You have to intentionally look for, take, and sometimes even make opportunities.
Another vital piece of discipleship is repentance. And I don't mean his. I mean my own. There is no greater, more powerful testimony for our children to see the Spirit of God at work than to see us humbly coming to them in repentance. Whether we've sinned in front of them or sinned against them, they need to hear us say, "I was wrong. Will you forgive me?" And they also need to hear us say, "I had 2 choices in front of me: release my anger...or yield to Christ. I chose anger. That's not the choice I want to make." Understand: those moments of temptation are going to come, regardless of what we do. But the moments of repentance are only going to come if I'm walking in the Spirit, yielded to his leading, and humbled before God.
And just as important as the moments of speaking truth and the times of confession and repentance are the moments of simply putting my arm around my son, affirming him, listening to him, and loving him. This is how my son needs me to love him. I know this because it's how he expresses it at home. He climbs up on his grandmothers laps and mauls their faces with kisses because he thinks they're the greatest thing since sliced bread. He's looking for that in return. And he says, "Did you see me?" over and over because he's looking to be affirmed. In a 25-year old, we'd be concerned that we're possible dealing with an over-inflated ego. With a 9-year old, this is what you can call affirmation. My son is desperate for this. Where I am careful is in building him up by affirming WHO he is, not so much WHAT he does. "Nathan, you played a great game tonight. Your mom and I are so proud of who you are - the way you lead with your attitude. And by the way, that was an awesome hit, too!"
I don't have 45-minute devotionals with my son. If you do, awesome.
The importance and the key in all of this lands on one word: INTENTIONAL.
You're not going to accidentally disciple your son or daughter to Jesus. You have to make up your mind with great resolution, come up with a plan, and go for it. The alternative is to do nothing. That's unacceptable.
You're not going to perfectly disciple your son or daughter to Jesus, either. Stop waiting to have it all figured out. Paul said, "Imitate me as I imitate Christ." In other words, "Follow me as I follow Jesus. Lock arms with me and let's walk toward the Savior together." It's never going to be perfect, it might actually be painful, but it will most certainly be beautiful.
Speak the truth.
Ask for forgiveness.
Love them recklessly like there's no tomorrow.
Pray for them and with them constantly.
That's making disciples.