Family Discipleship: More Than Just a Sharpie and Box Checking

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I spend hours organizing. Yep. I’m an organization nut. I love all things, ordered, neat, color-coded, labeled, cubbied, etcetera.   You name it, I’ve probably done it.   I’m always on the prowl for a new and improved way to unclutter the ongoing disarray of raising a family and running a business. It’s the bane of my existence it seems some days; all the while I’m learning to coexist with it because it is simply a function of my life right now.

As I’ve so ordered my domestic surroundings, I have also ordered my children’s homeschooling. Just makes sense, right? If I’m going to homeschool these children, then certainly there needs to be order to it all!   After all, order is good.   And so, I grab my colorful Sharpie of choice for the day, and off I go checking those boxes of completion. Chores? Check. Devotion? Check. Bible study? Check. Academics? Check.   Ahh, life is good. Oh wait, except for that one little hiccup (ok, maybe multiple little hiccups throughout the day!) during that sacred morning devotion time. Travel back with me, if you will, to a morning not so long ago……

It was a very routine weekday morning. Breakfast and chores were finished and we were off and running with school. We began with worship, and then quickly moved on to the Proverbs devotion we were studying in that week.   The kids were each snuggled into a corner of the couch on this chilly winter morning as the words of Proverbs began to gently roll off my tongue. Doesn’t it all sound so sweet and loving?! And then it began. “He’s looking at me!” “Take your feet off me!” “Why do I have to sit next to him?!” “Mom, seriously, he’s always bothering me!”   And on….and on….and on. As each offense continued, my blood pressure rose. I vowed to remain composed in an effort to hold it together and not forsake this beautiful time of devotion together. And then, it happened; the last and final straw. The nonstop complaints and grumbling had broken my silence. After a stern verbal lashing, I swiftly marched each of them up to their beds to reflect on their poor choices. As I returned downstairs to cool off, all I could think was “How can these children behave in such a way? Especially, in the face of the ongoing instruction their dad and I give them on loving and Godly behavior?!” Right? I mean, here I am reading out of the book of Proverbs for goodness sake, and their hearts couldn’t be further from it!

Anyhow, back to reality. After some time passed, I’d love to say that each of them returned downstairs with a dissertation on what they had done wrong, and how they would correct it for the next time. Ha! But, that didn’t happen. In fact, it was quite the opposite. And, it was in that moment that I realized that this whole family discipling thing would never flourish if I continued to confine it to just a 20 minute block of time. Nope. Doing it this way would never allow their faith to permeate the every fiber of their being. Instead, authentic discipleship of my children was not something I could organize at all.   In fact, it was actually quite messy.

Just as Moses instructed Israelite parents to speak regularly of the Lord to their children, I too need to speak regularly of the Lord and His ways to my children.

“You shall teach these commandments diligently to your children, and you 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”

(Deut. 6:7).

Sealing off biblical instruction from the natural rhythm of the day and isolating it to a brief devotional time was not God’s intention or best for the discipleship of my children. Instead, Moses envisioned a kind of walk-and-teach discipleship throughout the everyday. Now THIS, THIS is where my heart desired to be with my children; carefully weaving spiritual wisdom into them moment by moment.

And ya know what? It just so happens that the book of Proverbs reinforces this kind of parent-to-child discipleship as well. Solomon knew life rarely comes at us in carefully organized totes. My strategies of organization had bubbled over into the nurturing and discipleship of my children, and it was smothering the glorious relationship that I desired them each to have with the Father. I yearned for my children’s faith to permeate every aspect of their lives; like the fragrant smell of flowers in the air on a warm spring day.

It turns out I had something to learn that morning right alongside my children. Opportunities to disciple my children were all around me and in every moment. They couldn’t and shouldn’t be organized into one little block of the day. And it all begins with me, putting away my discipleship Sharpie and reflecting the face of Jesus to my children in the little things. It’s setting an example of patience after the disobedience of a child; or, the reminder to my child of how desperately he/she needs Jesus immediately following the anger of a sibling argument. Herein lies the richness and fruit. It is these everyday moments that should be used in the instruction of Biblical wisdom. And so, I’m learning to live with the messiness of most days, discipling as we go, one foot in front of the other. Mastery? Nope. Not even close.   Love, forgiveness, redemption, patience, and kindness… all of the above!