Day 22: Disciple-Making
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
One day, my son asked me why I still had children. It was an oddly-phrased question, so I asked him to explain: “What else would I do with my children?”
He suggested, “You could sell them.”
I replied jokingly, “I don’t think I could get very much for them.”
So he insisted, “I think you could get $6 million for each of your children.”
A little quick math: That’s $24 million (much more than the cost to raise them). Yet unfortunately dads, we cannot sell our kids, so it’s time we learned to parent them.
You are God’s instrument in your children’s lives to bring them into a relationship with him. As Moses exhorted the people of Israel:
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on 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 (Deut. 6:5-7).
Dads, you must train your children to love the Lord your God. Teach them the Word of God daily through instruction and example. Speak with them in the car and at the breakfast table. Model a biblical example from the moment they wake up until right before bedtime. Every moment, whether failure or success, is a parenting moment. Proverbs 22:6 declares, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Now “to train up” is used elsewhere in Scripture for the dedication of important buildings or an important person like the high priest. So this “dedication” not only points to an object’s initial use, but also the purpose for which it was dedicated. “To train up a child” could therefore mean “to prepare a child for an intentional purpose from the moment he is born.” As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.
Often I look at my boys and know exactly what their mischievous minds are thinking (because I was once their age): Should I dip my hand in the fish tank? Should I push my brother off his chair? Should I listen to my mother or pretend I don’t hear? I can see in their eyes the difficult choice between right and wrong, so I must shepherd their hearts wisely.
Dads, do not surrender authority to your children by neglecting consistent biblical instruction and loving discipline (Eph. 6:4). Proverbs reminds us that every child is born a fool (22:15) and must learn wisdom from their parents in order to navigate this fallen world. You are God’s gracious gift to your children whether they recognize it or not. So are you cultivating grace in your home by the way you live and teach?
Jesus exhorts us to view parenting as a means of intentionally fulfilling the Great Commission:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).
Parenting is more than childcare—more than providing food to eat and a roof over their heads—more than video game consoles and a vacation once a year. Parenting is the hard work of discipleship. The skillful patience to be a godly father, however, comes just as naturally as obedience to a child. Dads, your unbelieving children are death-deserving sinners who need Jesus to become their Savior and Lord (Rom. 3:23-25). Jesus, with all the authority of heaven and earth, has commissioned you to make disciples of your children. So go to your children with the gospel, lead them to salvation, baptize them in union with the church, and teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded in his Word. Then trust that God is always with you as you make disciples in your family.
Dads, you must diligently train up your children. Think about it: You do potty training and training wheels. You train them to tie their shoes, to eat healthy food, and not to burp at the dinner table (when their mother is present). You spend the first twenty months training your children how to walk and talk and the next twenty years how to sit down and be quiet. Shouldn’t you also train them to glorify God and to serve for the good of others (Matt. 22:37-39)? You have the wrong goal if parenting success simply means a good college and a good job and a good spouse and good morals, but no relationship with Jesus Christ. Dads, go make disciples of your children. Then teach them how to make disciples of others.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, My children are a priceless treasure. I long for them to receive the best of life, but most importantly to receive the best of you. Teach me to train them every moment every day to seek a relationship with you. May they follow you while they are young and walk with you for eternity. In your Son’s name, Amen.
LifeWork: Write down one way you will apply today’s Proverb.
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