I don't pretend to think this is easy work. It will take change. But, it'll be worth it. So, for the fathers who have teenagers, young adults or adult children and you're convinced it is too late, I want to offer three things you can start doing today to intentionally disciple your children.
3 ways to start discipling your child
#1 Confess and repent
Be okay with showing weakness. Don’t let pride take over and try to put up a front that you are the perfect parent. Your kids already know that’s not true, they know and see you're a sinner. So, the real impact on them will come when they see you recognize your need for Jesus and your reliance on the Holy Spirit’s power to parent.
Confess you haven’t done what God has called you to do as a parent and tell your son or daughter that things are going to change. Be honest that it will be an adjustment for them and you, and yet, you believe this is important, in fact, the most important calling you have.
LifeWay Research recently released a list of the fifteen positive influencers of spiritual health on kids. One of the positive influencers was when a parent asks for forgiveness when they’ve messed up. Brokenness over our sin and asking forgiveness of our children is not weakness; it’s living in a right understanding of the gospel. Biblical fatherhood understands the importance of confession and repentance.
#2 Remember the fatherhood of God
God hasn’t always been your father. You know that, right? He has always been your Creator, but not until you submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ did God adopt you into His family as a child (Rom. 8:14-17; Gal. 4:4-7).
Was it too late for God? Did He say you had been in rebellion for too long and were beyond saving? No. Even while we were powerless, ungodly, sinners, and enemies, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:6-11).
Did He save you and then leave you on your own? No. Instead, He is a loving Father who disciplines us (Prov. 3:11-12; Heb. 12:4-11). God is extremely intentional with us, He has a plan, and that plan is conforming us into the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29). Search the Scriptures and learn from our good, good Father. Biblical fatherhood remembers the fatherhood of God.
#3 Come up with a plan
To be intentional means you need to have a plan. It doesn’t mean discipleship can fit nicely in a little box where you can control everything, but it does mean without a plan, we will tend more toward not doing anything.
We can all agree discipleship is good, but without this plan in place, we will quickly revert to the old way of doing things. Maybe the first thing that needs to happen is a phone call or meeting for coffee to start with #1 on this list—confession and repentance.
After that, ask these three simple questions of your children to help with a plan:
- How have you seen God working in your life over the last week/month/year?
- How can I help you pursue Christ in your life?
- How can I pray specifically for you?
Be sure to start small. If you’ve never been intentional in discipling your kids, it will be wise to do simple things as you build that relationship. It might just be sharing a few thoughts from a passage you’ve been reading lately. It might be how you’ve seen God do something in your life recently. It might be just sending a quick text telling your son or daughter you are praying for them. The important thing is that you are intentional in pursuing their heart with the gospel of Jesus. Point is: Biblical fatherhood has a plan.
Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He gave the Great Commission to the disciples where He told them they were to go out and make disciples. Fathers, your first mission field is your home, and it starts with you. The same promise Jesus left for the disciples is true for us, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20). Jesus has promised to be with you and if that is true (and it is!)—and you are reading this blog—it is not too late to disciple your children.
This is a guest post from Kyle Bjerga. Kyle serves as the Pastor of Discipleship and Family Ministries at Cityview Community Church in Elmhurst, IL. Kyle is married to Jackie and they have three boys. He is a lifelong resident of the Chicago suburbs and enjoys everything Chicago, including his beloved Cubs. He blogs regularly at More Than a Catch where he encourages fathers to be intentional in pursuing the hearts of their sons.
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