“I feel terrible I can’t do more at Church. With three little ones under the age of five, it just seems like someone is always sick or sleeping. Maybe when they get in school I can serve.” Sound familiar? If you are a Christian mom of even one child, you have probably either said something similar or heard one or more of your friends say it. Moms of young children everywhere are feeling guilty for their inability to serve in various capacities at Church.
With only minimal apologies to all of those searching for volunteers at churches around the world, I say ban the guilt! Sorta. If you are discipling your children in how to live an impactful, Christian life – that, my sisters, is your full-time ministry! Anything you are able to do to help other ministries is icing on the cake in my book.
Notice though, the “if”. Unfortunately, many Christian moms have abdicated their role (as one who disciples their children for God) to others. Perhaps you assume an hour or two a week in church or Bible classes, will adequately disciple your children. Maybe you are hoping your church employs an awesome youth minister in your child’s teen years. Surely, he will disciple your child. Maybe you’ve even dug deeply into your pockets and spend thousands of dollars a year on a private Christian school. For that kind of money and with eight or more hours of your child’s day, you reason, she ought to be properly discipled!
Study after study, whether secular or religious has consistently found the same results. Nobody can influence and/or disciple a child as well as the child’s parents. Sure, those other things can influence your child, but they are the reinforcers of what you are doing at home – not a substitute.
I’ll be brutally honest. Discipling children is not for wimps. It requires Bible study, prayer and planning – and that’s just for you! You will need to proactively plan activities to strengthen your child’s faith, mold his character, develop her loving, serving heart, teach leadership skills, develop God-given talents to their potential and place in the Kingdom and plant God’s Words and principles firmly on the hearts of your children. Most importantly, it requires working on your own spiritual growth and maturity. “Do as I say and not as I do”, never works very well when discipling.
I will promise you this, though. Having a child who is an active, loving Christian and obeys and serves God by glorifying Him through service and faith-sharing is one of God’s most wonderful blessings. When your children are little, you will grow weary and wonder if all of the effort is worth it. As a parent of a child now in college, I know the conversations I have with my daughter are those that bring joy to my soul. Other mothers I know who have discipled their children to much older ages will tell you the same. On the other hand, those parents we know who took the “easy” way out when their children were young often have eyes red from crying and knees worn from heart wrenching prayers.
Is there any guarantee a well discipled child will be that active, loving, productive Christian adult? Not entirely, because ultimately your children will make choices good and bad that will move them closer to or farther away from God. Statistically though, children who were well discipled by their Christian parents are much more likely to develop a strong, active faith. Can children who are never discipled by their parents become strong Christians? Absolutely, but it will be much more difficult for them.
Give your children the best gift you will ever give them and really put your maximum, best efforts into discipling them to be the Christians God would want them to be. You may be exhausted for a few years while they (and you!) are young, but your golden years will be filled with love and joy. To me that was and still is the best ministry of all!