A young man I know was called upon to deliver a morning devotion to his teammates from a Christian school on an away trip. He was excited to have been selected to speak as God had been working in his life for some time. As he stood before the group, he hesitated. He waited. He waited some more. He then turned to the coach and inquired, “What should I say?” Now the coach saved the day and his teammates were very forgiving. But we sometimes find ourselves in a similar situation even in front of our families.
Jesus spent His three years in ministry constantly teaching His disciples Scripture and how to minister to others. That was His number one priority. In the Great Commission Jesus tells us to teach our children to practice all the things that He has commanded. But, what are we to do if we have been never trained to teach? How can we get the skills we need to do the job well? How can we avoid standing before our families and thinking, “What should I say?”
Building Your “Teaching Muscle”
On the job training is the best way to get equipped! We have the great opportunity and privilege to grow with the rest of our family. Our ability to teach is like a muscle. If we exercise this muscle it will grow bigger and stronger.
Begin with simply reading Scripture aloud to your family each day. Don’t worry about teaching anything. Reading God’s word is sufficient in itself to bring about dramatic spiritual growth in your family. Ask the Lord to teach you all when you read. Here’s what will likely happen as you take a step of obedience in reading to your family.
- The Holy Spirit will begin to bring thoughts to you as you read; from time to time you may be compelled to make a comment about what you have just read.
- If you read and study the Scripture in advance of your time with your family the Lord will give you more to teach.
- If you use a Study Bible to prepare, you will have even more to teach!
Over time as you read God’s word to your family you will get better and better at expounding on what you have read. You will become more confident in your teaching ability. The word of God is more powerful than a two-edged sword. You can ask questions about what you just read. As you begin to expound upon God’s word all you need to do is to stay one lesson ahead of your children.
What If I Don’t Know the Answers to Questions From My Family?
This fear may be the biggest for a new teacher. The concern is how can I teach when I don’t have all the knowledge to teach? This concern is a misconception related to our society’s expectation that only professionals are qualified to do certain jobs.
If this fear grips you, join the crowd! Nobody knows all the answers to God’s truths, not even seminary trained pastors. Simply tell your family the truth; “I don’t know.” From that point, you have several options.
- As a family you can search for scriptural answers on the spot.
- You can promise to personally check on it and get back to your family the next day with an answer. Then you can search out Scripture, talk with a pastor or friend, or you can “Google” the question. You will need to be careful to select a trusted source on the web; there are many false teachings out there!
- Different family members can look in Scripture and then answer the question the next day during devotions.
- If there is a disagreement about a point in Scripture, those in disagreement can search for biblical proof of their position and then bring their answers back to the family the next day.
- Only God knows the answers to some questions. We have to acknowledge that God is God and we are not. If we knew the answer to every question, then we would be God!
If you take the time to prepare before you teach, you will be able to answer most questions.
Discipleship from Cradle to Grave
There are some who advocate the practice of discipling in certain areas at a certain phase in a person’s life. They advocate that during the first few years parents should only focus on training their children to obey. Then over the next few years, they say that parents should focus on catechizing their children or teaching them scriptural meanings. The next few years would be spent on discipleship (as defined by putting the knowledge into practice) of the older children. Then, when the children depart the home the job is finished. This approach is logical; without proper obedience training, the child will not be able to be taught; without biblical knowledge being imparted, the older child will not have a biblical basis with which to operate.
However, Jesus used an integrated approach to discipleship. Jesus did not train His disciples in phases. He did not provide different levels of training to the men based on their age. Jesus took men of different ages from a variety backgrounds and trained, taught, and discipled them simultaneously.
Start Early and Never Finish!
So what are the implications for parents? “When I was my father’s son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, he also taught me, and said to me: ‘Let your heart retain my words; keep my commands, and live” (Proverbs 4:4-5). The Proverb shows the young child being taught and admonished at an early age by his father. Discipleship is for life; from cradle to grave. Think of your children as disciples from birth, even before birth! Pray for them, read Scripture to them, sing to them, and as they grow, take them with you as you minister to others. Give them a foundation from the beginning of what the Christian walk is all about.
Don’t stop discipling your children when they are on their own. Be there for them when they need counsel. Become their chief cheerleader. Confront them when necessary. Pray for them and ask them to pray for you. If your children are now grown and you did not properly train them to obey, prayerfully acknowledge your mistakes and ask them to forgive you. Show them in Scripture how important it is to honor their parents; obedience comes with a promise; long life and well-being. Let them know that honoring their parents is more for their own good than yours. If you did not teach Scripture to them, once again, prayerfully ask for their forgiveness. Ask your children to join you in a regular Bible study (if they live out of town you may be able to engage them in the Word over the phone). You could start by the two of you reading a book and each discussing what the Lord is showing you.
Look for opportunities to minister with your children. If your child has a ministry, offer to help. If not, discuss what people groups and needs she would be interested in meeting. Start a ministry together!
Article from Disciple Like Jesus