I scan his body looking for a cape. Shocked that I don’t see one I assume that he’s one of those superheroes that doesn’t actually need a cape to fly. He just gets stuff done.
The superhero I’m talking about is Super Dad. Suddenly his passionate preacher voice draws me away from cape gazing and back into his talk. “If we don’t disciple our children we are worse than unbelievers. Listen guys, I know that its tough. I know that you are busy. But what do you gain if you gain the whole world but lose the souls of your children?” his voice now rivaling that of a Seahawks home game.
Looking around I see several head nods and hear a chorus of Amen’s. I retreat back into my own mind. I wonder about these men. Are they like me? Will they be inspired by these talks, go home, start family devotions, have an awesome week, then find themselves feeling like crap a few months later when they hear a talk like this one and realize they haven’t done anything resembling family worship for about two months?
Fast forward a few weeks…
I’m not the guy in the pew this time. I’m the guy speaking and noticing people like me nod off into their own thoughts. The message is about intentional and organic discipleship in the context of relationships. It’s simple really. Live life with one another and be intentional about causing the gospel to bear on your life and the person you are discipling.
I use my best preacher voice*. “Listen guys we aren’t talking about leading a guy through a book study. This isn’t teaching a theology class. This is just hanging out with another guy, living life before him, and showing Jesus with your life and lips”.
Discipleship is tough work. But it’s not a difficult program or concept. Honestly, simplifying it like this is a breath of fresh air. And then it hits me…why in the world don’t I have this same philosophy with my own children?
A little help from Wax
A few weeks back Trevin Wax told his story of apologizing to his son. His 9 year old thought that he had heard all the Bible stories and wondered why church was necessary. Trevin explains:
For months (maybe years), I’ve conditioned him to think that attending a worship service is all about learning. From our Saturday night prayers (“Be with us tomorrow, Lord, as we go to church and learn more about You”) to after-church conversations (“What did you learn in Sunday School today?”), our way of talking about church is predominantly educational. No wonder he thought we should move on. If church is school, then eventually, you graduate, right?
I’ve done the same thing. Family worship. Devotions. All of these things can simply become times for information dumping.
I’m also learning that I have a tendency to treat family devotions like one of David Platt’s Secret Church sessions. (If you aren’t familiar with those it is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant). These aren’t sustainable. And that is why I lead them for a week and then fall into discouragement, despair, and ultimately neglect.
A little help from Buzzard
Last week Justin Buzzard gave 10 tips for discipling our children. They are simple. It’s all about living life together. It’s the model of discipleship that we’re encouraging guys in our church to follow. Live life together and show Jesus with your life and lips.
Listen, I’m not saying stop your family devotions. Do what you can with them and keep stretching yourself a little. There is great value in sitting down with your family, cracking open a Bible, and proclaiming the excellencies of Christ. Same thing with singing together, praying together, and doing missions together. Don’t neglect these things.
But at the same time let’s not pretend that your family devotion time is the primary means for discipling your children. It isn’t. It’s in the little things. It’s when you go out for ice cream, learn Math, play Minecraft, throw a baseball back and forth, comb the hair of her dolls, and live life together. It means having times of repentance, celebration, mourning, exhortation, and everything in between.
This is less complicated but it is not easier. You don’t need a cape to pull it off, but you do need Jesus. Drink deeply of Christ and you’ll have plenty of Him to pour into the life of your kiddos.
*I’m still working on my preacher voice. Right now I’m similar to Barney Fife when he got really excited.