The Bible tells us to “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” I have heard this passage used many times while being told how to raise my children. I do not mean that in a negative way. I love this passage because it is discipleship at its roots. This is something Israel took seriously, or at least were told to.
Read the Shema in Deuteronomy 6 and tell me that God has not given us the responsibility as parents to disciple out children. It is obvious whose job it is, and obvious what God will have us do as parents to raise our children. What does this mean, though, for Christians?
It hit me last night. Jesus called us to make disciples of all the nations (Matt. 28:19) As disciples, we are sent out as Jesus said “as sheep among wolves: (Matt. 10:16) Which means, that all future disciples are sent out to make disciples, and in doing so are put in dangerous situations. This drastically affects the way we raise our children.
The proverb says to “train” our children. What are we training them for? War of course! We are battling the powers and principalities of another realm, we are on mission from God, sent by our King to grow and advance His kingdom. As parents we are not raising up “good people”, or even “smart people”, but we are raising up our children in recognition of their gifts to infiltrate the enemy camp and break down the walls in order to clear the way for our King to enter their lives. Jesus called ALL disciples to be on mission and make future disciples, this includes our children.
This morning when I put my kids on the bus to go to school, though I sent them to get their education, first and foremost I am sending them to as they go make disciples. This means as we eat, before we sleep, as we walk down the street, as we go to be training them up and teaching them, not only about the mission, but for the mission. We need to build up our children, expecting them to not only be future leaders, but leaders now! The bottom line is that our children will either be influenced by others, or will influence others, and we have the responsibility to teach them to be the influencers and not those that are influenced. After all, they are among wolves!
Please don’t be fooled into thinking that your children do not have the power to influence other children, because they have the same Spirit that leads us not into timidity but into power, and empowers them also to be witnesses to the nations. As you go, teach them to as they go make disciples of the nations, so that, when they grow up they will not stray from the Missio Dei.