If I could give parents one piece of advice, it would be this: When it comes to your children’s lives, no one can take your place. So, don’t wait for someone else to talk to your kids about Jesus. Do it yourself. Read Scripture with them. Memorize it together. Pray with them. Go help the needy together. Give together and serve together. Show them what it means to be a disciple of Christ.
I love what the parent writing in Proverbs 23:26 says to his child: “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.” Children don’t just get their spiritual guidance from Scripture; they get it as their eyes observe the ways of their parents. When your children trust you enough to give you their hearts, they will follow your example.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “And these words, which I command you today shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and 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.”
To “teach” is a formal term. It implies a certain time set aside for instruction. This is to be done diligently. It might involve reading to our children, memorizing with them, and discussing relevant issues. Family devotional times can be a great way of providing spiritual reference points which will lead to conversations throughout the week.
The passage also speaks of the informal. We are to “talk” to our children when we sit at home, as we walk, when we go to bed. In our family, many of the greatest learning opportunities arose as we worked together, went out to eat or had fun together, or traveled on vacation.
Above all, the heart of discipleship must always be to take our children back to the cross, to the Gospel of Christ. This should be the center of everything in family life. Our children must see their deep need not merely to be outwardly obedient, but to be delivered from the power of sin, to be transformed on the inside, to become new creations in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
This brings me to a video that our daughter Karina recorded for Life Bible Fellowship Church in Upland, California, where she and her husband Dan Franklin attend along with their three boys, and where Dan is a teaching pastor and elder. In a conversation with one of their pastors, Troy Spilman, Karina discussed what discipleship can look like in the home. They both had great insights to share. This woman is the real deal! (Trust me. I’ve had the privilege of knowing her since the day she was born.)