Discipleship with Children: 7 Principles (Part 2)

SAM_6020When I first began homeschooling, my wise mother, who homeschooled my brother and sister for a few years in our childhood, gave me a piece of very excellent advice.  She told me that as a creative homeschooler, I would come up with and find and hear about a great many wonderful ideas for lessons, crafts, projects, activities, and so on.  These awesome and creative lessons, crafts, projects, and activities are the icing on the cake of homeschooling- and add fun and life and excitement to our educational pursuits.  However, education is not my only responsibility and other obligations would crop up and compete in my daily schedule.

So she told me to have a short list of basic requirements that we do every day.  Then, in our day to day life, if we have time for the extras- go for it and enjoy.  But success is measured by the short list and not on the extras.  This, she assured me, would free me from massive amounts of guilt, when reality inevitably does not match up with my dreams.

The first item on my short list, then, is Bible.  Since biblical knowledge of God gives us everything we need that pertains to life and godliness, this subject is first in priority and in our schedule.  We sing a hymn before breakfast and I read our Bible passage while they eat.  Discipleship, the fostering of my children’s personal relationships with the Lord, occurs throughout the day as it comes up.

Discipling my children is a priority in my heart and a topic I have been studying.  I have been reading the Gospel of Mark in my personal devotion time and have been looking carefully at the ultimate example of Jesus and how He discipled His followers.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the first three principles of discipleship I noticed in my studies which were, briefly: Time, Identify, and Teachable Moments.  Today I would like to write about two more principles I saw.

1 September 20136

Guided Practice

4. A Teacher Provides Opportunities for Practice

My college degree is in Elementary Education.  I took several classes on methods of teaching and creating lessons.  In the course of a well crafted lesson, you have an introduction (that relates the material to be taught to the student so as to make a meaningful connection), explanation of the new material, modeling (often by completing an example), guided practice (in the presence of the teacher who is available to assist and reteach, if necessary), and then independent practice (which is often homework).

In the Gospels, I see this pattern of lessons in Jesus’ ministry.  He taught the crowds using miracles or parables to help them understand his teachings.  He modeled what He taught in how He lived.  Then He gave His disciples opportunities for Guided Practice.  One notable example of this is in Mark 6.  “And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits… The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. ” (v 7, 30).  They were to preach and do miracles.  They were, in fact, practicing the mission Jesus would give them when He eventually left Earth and ascended into Heaven.

As disciples of Jesus, He will give us, too, opportunities to practice ministry.  Serving under someone’s mentoring leadership paves the way for us to minister and mentor others ourselves.  Younger women should be on the lookout for older women to mentor them, teach them, advise them, encourage them.

Then we, as mothers, should both model to our children how to live and minister and serve and also give our children opportunities to learn how to minister and serve others.  My  mother brought me to teach Sunday School to 1st graders under her leadership when I was in high school.  Later, in college, I took over teaching the 3rd and 4th grade Sunday School classes.  I have had my children help me make a meal and go with me to deliver that meal to a new mom or a grieving family.  We are teaching our children to do housework and yard work by helping us as we do it.  In a few years, they can be a part of helping out an elderly or sick member of our congregation.  Finally, my hope is that they will continue this practice of serving others for God’s glory as they grow into adulthood.

2 Praying hands5.  A Teacher Prays for His Students and Teaches Them to Pray

In the first chapter of Mark, Jesus retreats to a lonely place to pray and there his disciples find Him.  In Mark 11, the disciples are in awe that the fig tree that Jesus cursed had withered overnight.  He replies to them,  “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (v 24-25)

Thus, in His example and in His words, He teaches the disciples the importance, power, and method of prayer.  The Gospel of John chapter 17 records a beautiful prayer that Jesus prayed for His disciples.  He prays for God’s glory and for their unity, protection, sanctification, and joy that the Father’s mission may be accomplished in them.

As faithful disciples of Jesus, we should make prayer a daily- even hourly- habit.  In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster says, “Of all the Spiritual Disciplines prayer is the most central because it ushers us into perpetual communion with the Father” (p 33).  He also says, “Real prayer is something we learn” (p 36).  To do this, we can study the prayers of Old Testament and New Testament saints.  We can read about the prayers of missionaries and listen to the prayers of the pastors, teachers, and elders in our lives.

Then, we must pass on what we learn about prayer to our children.  They must be taught the importance of prayer in the life of a disciple of Jesus.  They must be taught the power of the prayers of a believer who prays in faith.  They must be taught how to pray.  They can learn from your example, and then you can be sure to read to them the examples of the prayers of the saints in the Bible and read to them missionary stories where prayer is a powerful vehicle for change and the miraculous work of God.

We must also pray for our children.  I received this beautiful poem in a baby shower gift several years back:

I Have A Mother Who Prays

Some have had kings in their lineage,
Some to whom honor was paid.
I don’t have those as my ancestors
But I have a mother who prays.

I have a mother who prays for me
And pleads with the Lord every day for me.
Oh what a difference it makes for me
I have a mother who prays.

My mother’s prayers cannot save me,
Only mine can avail;
But Mother introduced me to someone,
someone who never could fail.

Oh yes…I have a mother who prays for me
And pleads with the Lord every day for me.
O what a difference it makes for me
I have a mother who prays.

Author unknown

Next time, I will talk about the last two principles for discipling children.

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2 thoughts on “Discipleship with Children: 7 Principles (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: Discipleship with Children: Seven Principles (Part 3) | Following Footprints

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