Home Discipleship 101: Time For Dads to Step Up

Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

 

Clearly this calls for dads to be spiritual leaders for their children. If we are going to disciple the children living in our homes, dads have to step up and be the leaders God calls them to be. Whether the children in your home are yours or not is irrelevant. As the father figure in the house, you need to step up.

 

You can’t lead where you are not going. Dads, if you are going to disciple the kids living in your home, you need to be sure that you are going where you say you want them to go. Do you want them to pray? Are YOU praying? Do you want them to read their Bibles often? Are YOU reading your Bible often? Want them to study the Bible? Are YOU studying the Bible?

 

Be more than an example. Ensuring that you are doing what you want your kids to do is a good start. There is great power in them SEEING you pray, or read, or study, but it can’t end there. Do these things WITH your kids. Intentional has become a bit of a catch phrase in ministry, but in this case it is the right word. We need to be intentional about how you lead your kids. It doesn’t have to be a series of fancy family devotionals. It can be a simple as reading the Bible with them and praying with them. However, family devotionals are a great way to disciple your kids. The good news is you don’t have to write them yourself. There are many books out there that can help you with this. In fact your pastor or children’s or youth minister can probably help you find one.

 

Just do something. I have this problem. I am a perfectionist. Unfortunately, this sometimes prevents me from starting new things waiting for all the pieces to be in place and perfect. As parents we can feel the same way about discipling our kids. But, we need to just start somewhere.


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Home Discipleship 101: I Don’t Have All The Answers

Being the primary spiritual influencers for our children can be a heavy burden to carry.  It can be very intimidating. What if they have a question that I can’t answer? Maybe you have thought this, or can at least sympathize. Well, here’s the good news. You don’t have to have all the answers.

I am a professional children’s minister. Some might consider me an “expert”. I would never claim that title, but it is what some people think. Unfortunately, this feeling that those of us in church leadership are the ”experts” can keep discipleship from happening at home. Well, here’s more good new:

I don’t have all the answers either.

The truth is that our kids don’t need us to have all the answers. In fact it is often better to help them work through these things for themselves. This is how they develop a faith of their own. When they come to you with a question that you can’t answer, TAKE them to the Bible. When we do this they learn that the Bible is where the answers are.

We lead our kids, not by giving them all the answers, but by helping them to find them, by finding the answers with them. We lead our kids by SHOWING them what it means to be a Godly man or woman, a Godly mother or father. This, too, can be intimidating, but don’t worry, they don’t expect us to be perfect. So, be encouraged. God has tasked you with being spiritual leaders for the kids that He has placed in your care, but He has and will give you the tools you need to do it.


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Home Discipleship 101: Why HOME Discipleship?

It occurred to me that the title of this series might seem strange to some. Seems like it would make more sense to call it FAMILY discipleship or PARENT discipleship? My initial inclination was to call it something like that. But, then I remember something that I learned from a good friend and fellow children’s minister, Linda Jacobs. Linda has a passion for ministering to children of divorce. One of the things she has taught me is that FAMILY may not mean the same thing to everybody. When we refer to family we run the risk of leaving out some people. Consider this:

  • Single parent homes: If you are the child  of a single parent sitting in a room where many of the other kids have both parents in the home, then talk of family could make you feel excluded.
  • Grandparents parenting: There are a growing number of grandparents raising their grandkids.
  • Kids with other family: Some kids are living with aunts and uncles for any number of reasons.
  • Adoption: I hate to think that some adopted kids would feel this way, but when we talk about family they may look around at there peers and feel a disconnect because they are different.
  • Foster care: These kids may not even be with ANY family member. They are certainly going to assume that you are not talking to/about them when you talk about family, especially if they come from a bad family situation.

BUT, nearly everyone can identify with HOME. I have been in Alabama only a few months and i’m living in a borrowed house. Yet when I leave work to go to that house I say I’m going HOME and I feel like I am going HOME. For this reason I chose to call this series HOME Discipleship. I want anyone who reads this to know that YOU can disciple the kids that are in your home, whether they are yours or not and regardless of why or how they came to be with you.


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I Talk Too Much. You Probably Do Too.

I always end children’s church with a response time. This past Sunday I ran late and had to dismiss the kids before we did the response time. So, I told them if they needed to talk to me that they could hang out afterwards. I had a couple kids take me up on that offer. One in particular stayed after to talk about how she was being bullied. I listened and then I spoke, then she went to Sunday School. After she walked away  I realized, I talk too much.

Quick to listen, slow to speak. John 1:19 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” All to often in ministry we are quick to listen, but even quicker to speak. In my desire to help the little girl I mentioned earlier I quickly jumped into talking. In fact I did much more talking than she did. I did more talking than I did listening.

We shouldn’t give them ALL the answers. Certainly there will be times when we need to give them answers. However, far more often we need to let them find the answers. We need to help them find from certain, but let THEM find the answers. I’m currently reading a book called “First Hand”. The writers of this book talk about how, as young adults, they found the faith that they had to be shallow and empty. They go on to share that when they began to explore faith they came to the realization that the faith they had was really borrowed from their parents or from teachers in church. When we give kids all the answers we run the risk of them growing up to be like the authors of this book. Fortunately, these men found a faith that was there own.

A faith of their own. The authors of the book I mentioned above only came to a faith of their own by struggling through situations and seeking the answers that were all to often given to them as kids. Having grown up in the church, the sons of a pastor, they knew all the facts. But, when they reached adulthood they began to doubt. This doubt led them into a lifestyle that certainly was not God honoring. My desire is to help kids develop a faith of their own so that they can avoid some of the mistakes that these authors made and the paint they endured.

A faith of my own. When God first called me to ministry I, like the authors mentioned above, realized that my faith, everything I knew and believed, really belonged to someone else. My father was the pastor of the churches I grew up in. I never for a moment doubted that what he and the other teachers in my life taught me was true. But, I needed to experience it for myself. I needed to have the confidence of having actually read what they taught me for myself. I decided in that moment to never teach anything that I had not read for myself. I knew that I needed to develop a faith of my own. Our children also need to develop a faith of there own. This happens with we help them find the answers, instead of always giving them the answer.

So, talk less. When I was studying psychology while getting my nursing degree there was something that they taught us to say that drove me crazy, but is actually pretty good. In fact there were a couple of methods that we were taught that I think can help us talk less, listen more, and actually help the kids in our home or ministry even more. Consider these:

  • How does that make you feel?
  • What I hear you saying is… (followed by repeating what they were saying.)

I seldom used these exact words, but I did use these techniques. The whole idea with these was to get the person talking so that you could learn more about them. It also helped them to work through the problem for themselves. The same can be true as we use these techniques to help kids work through their questions, doubts, and struggles.


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Why Are Dads So Dumb?

Before I go any further let me remind you that I am both a man and a father. This may be why this topic bothers me so much. I’m not talking about real dads. I’m talking about TV and movie dads. Why are so many of them simply so stupid?

My least favorite movie. Some years ago Nicholas Cage starred in a movie called Razing Arizona. I disliked this movie, and Cage’s character, so much that I wouldn’t watch any movie that he was in for years. This character was a father, but he was not a good one. He was not what I would consider a strong man. He simply irritated me. Unfortunately, this character is just one of many that have come to characterize the typical TV or movie dad.

Bob the bug man. Disney has a fairly innocent show called, Good Luck Charlie. The show is actually quite cute and I have often enjoyed watching it with my kids. But, the dad, Bob, is portrayed as barely capable of walking upright, much less leading his family. The intent of this character is probably simply to be funny. He is goofy and often quite funny, but what is the effect?

Al the shoe salesman. When I was a teenager there was a very popular TV so called Married With Children. The patriarch of this family was one Al Bundy. Al was a miserable man who was far more interested in watching TV that in being a father to his children or a husband to his wife. His wife was little more than an aggravation to him. His children were the same.

Why does it matter? We live in a day where many fathers have little to do with their children. In many cases these children don’t live with their fathers. Still many DO live with their kids, but have virtually no connection with them. Furthermore, we are seeing a generation of kids with less and less respect for their parents and other authorities. I certainly don’t completely blame TV for this, but I do thing that there are images from these bad dads that are being place into the minds of children. These effect the way they interact with adults. Also, in the case of kids without a father present, these may be the only example of what a father is that they see. What image of fatherhood will they form based on this.

Maybe this is much ado about nothing. But, in a time when families are perhaps weaker than ever before, we need men to be strong fathers. We need images of good fathers. TV is not devoid of such fathers. Consider Little House on the Prairie  or The Braddy Bunch. Certainly these dads were not perfect, but they led their families and they loved their wives.

In a time when there are fewer good dads in our world and and even fewer in TV, I think it is time for the church to step up. Equip and encourage dads to be Godly men. Stand in the gap where dads are absent. Men, step it up. Be the dad and husband that God called you to be.


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