Mothering is all about disciple-making.
Take that element out of the equation and what you have left is at its best is ooey-goey nurturing and perhaps the production of good citizens and a relatively healthy family environment where you’ve kissed boo-boos, kept them fed and clothed and ensured their academic potential and even cultural savvy-ness, but still it is essentially void of life’s greatest purpose: to know Jesus and make Him known.
We are all preparing for eternity. This is not all there is and if a day goes by that I don’t remind myself and my children that at the end of all our work and words is Home, my eyes are not fixed high enough.
I know of no greater way as a mother to maintain a supernatural vision of earthly realities than being consistently intentional in discipling my own children. But what does it look like to make disciples as a mother? Let me offer some insights:
1. In order to make disciples, you have to first be a disciple (a learner; one who adheres to the principles and instructions provided by another. There is a whole chapter on this concept here). If I as a mother lose a vision of my own sin and my desperate need for the Gospel daily I fall into pride and legalism. Which in mothering often takes the form of control, nagging and perfectionism. That all makes me tightly wound. And in that case I need deliverance for in that there is no gentleness, no grace, no quiet spirit, no leaving a trail of peace behind me, no trust and I need the Gospel. Again. I need to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit in absolute surrender or I am lost. The Spirit is my counselor, my teacher, my wisdom, the One who is ever leading me.
Unless my children SEE and HEAR this (talk about your walk with Him–it ought to be as natural as breathing, not something privatized and strange to their ears and eyes! And yes, that includes letting them hear you pray and I mean really pray!) they do not know that you too are a disciple! Yes, to live as a disciple means addressing the brokenness in my own soul that has and does come up so I might come into greater healing and minister more effectively. It means confessing my sins to one another that I might be healed. It means my children seeing me do this and hearing that I seek out counselor and mentors. A mother disciple-maker lives out her own constant apprenticeship.
2. Disciple out of who God designed you to be: your personality, strengths, interests and spiritual gifts. If you chose not to, you will fall into exhaustion deep in your soul, fall into the comparison trap and sabotage all your best efforts. Here is a good resource for this if you are not sure who you are.
You do not have to become someone different and new to make disciples; you do have to become more of you in the fullness and wholeness God designed.
For me this means playing basketball, soccer and baseball with my boys. It means handing off math and science questions to Dad. It means making simple and healthy meals not spending hours trying something new to wow my crowd. It means not watching TV and instead reading mounds of books to my kids. It means using my spiritual gifts of prophecy, knowledge, discernment, teaching and exhortation to cast vision, to speak truth into their lives, to illuminate Scripture, to instruct them on spiritual warfare, to educate them on global needs and affairs, to intercede with them on behalf of others. It means teaching them about beauty and order in our home and to observe it in nature.
It means taking care of myself and expressing my own needs (and teaching them to do the same). It means I don’t sew or scrapbook or know the latest technology or lead a PTA group or have my own home business or rush off to corporate meetings or remember that someone might need a meal or sing and play guitar or act in the local theater ..that list could go on. And I am okay with that fact.
The more your children see your growth and acceptance in who you are in Jesus–mind, body and soul, the more they will feel their beloved-ness by God.
And oh, isn’t one of our goals in disciple-making, for others, for our children to know the deep, deep love of Jesus? That He longs for them, that He rubs His hands in delight every time He hears their voices calling His name, that He expects nothing of them but what He already did for them on the cross? That all the rest that we can do and say is gratitude, intentional and joyous gratitude?
3. Discipling your children, or anyone else for that matter, does not mean you have to know everything. About the Word, ethics, science, social behavior, relationship issues, politics and how it all relates to God. If we all waited until we were 100% prepared to be mothers we would all still be pregnant. Can you imagine? None of us were ready when those babies were placed in our arms. But God had this ingenious plan; as they grew we would grow, going from glory to glory. It’s called synergy. Nothing grows in utter isolation. When we agree to mother, to disciple, we agree to depend wholly on a miraculous God to show Himself mighty because we are not enough.
Our pastor recently spoke about discipleship, pointing to the story of Zacchaeus. He noted how Jesus did not wait to be invited by the wee little man. He initiated. He pursued. He built a relationship in 10 seconds just by knowing his name. I get frustrated with women who wait for their children to show interest in Jesus or church or other things they deem holy. They don’t push, they don’t expect, they don’t teach, they don’t talk, they wait. Sometimes for a lifetime and then wonder why their kids are so far away in every sense of the word. Discipleship takes proactive tenacity and though you must inquire of the Holy Spirit who He would have you disciple this year, you never have to pray that prayer about your children or grandchildren. They are your disciples So, get on with it!
Let them ask their questions and find the answers together. Most of disciple-making is getting on someone else’s turf and letting them ask questions. It is not time for motivational pep-talks or preaching, but of mutual sharing and learning. Search the Scriptures together. Memorize and meditate on Scripture. We do this very slowly, no verse a week in this house; we “chew” too much!
If you need a fantastic structure to start moving through with your children check out my personal favorite here. Again, after five years we are still not done with book two because we don’t rush. Scripture is more than often something to linger in, not to accumulate. Worship together and for heaven’s sake get out of any stiff religious or cultural boxes and lift your hands and dance with them (sorry, it’s biblical!).
There is no true discipleship without a love-affair with the Word of God and worship, hungering for His manifest presence.
4. Discipling our children builds within them the true skills to live and love well. Remember the two greatest commandments–to love God and love each other? God actually gave these to us for our benefit because He knew that to walk in these is to live in the two greatest blessings in life; true relational intimacy with Him and others. Obviously then, these should be the focus of our mothering as we raise disciples of Jesus. This boils down to teaching our children then, relational skills.
I once read that the quality of our earthly relationships determines the quality of our heavenly ones. That would make sense that the foundation we are building now will be that which we add to for all eternity! So, let’s get practical about this, discipling our children how to:
- Listen to others–teach them to ask good questions, to make themselves students of others, to truly hear hearts.
- To settle conflicts–teach them the goal is not to avoid them for they actually help us grow, but to figure out how to bring two opposing opinions together as close as possible for good resolution.
- To put others interests before their own–an attitude of humility, service and care for others.
- To co-operate–how to work with and not against others, to “ark” together as a family in a common goal or vision not live separate lives.
- To function appropriately in various specific relationships–friendships, siblings, marriage, boss/employee.
Relational dynamics centered on Jesus produces love and service. When my children are in the thick of it I sit them down and without any other words start reading the book of First John to them. We linger there for quite awhile and the Word is enough.
I’ve mothered now for almost thirteen years. We have three children here and we sent one on up ahead. I know each one of my children are miracles for I was not supposed to be able to have them. But that was before God healed my body and every other part of me. I greet my children each morning with a joy that we are alive together in the here and now. This is our time in history ordained by God before the foundations of the world. And this is your time.
I know there is a cost to being a mother disciple-maker. Believe me, I know. There is always a cost for that which is noble and lasting.
But if you commit to discipling just one of your children and they in turn this year disciple another (and even my seven year old can do this) and their disciples do the same, then at the end of 10 years there will be 1,024 disciples! At the end of 15 years, 32,768 disciples! At the end of 20 years, 1, 4800,576 disciples and in 30 years over one billion people made disciples of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I don’t know about you, but I am aiming for 3 billion.
Yes, three billion worshipers of Jesus that know Him and make Him known. I want to stand with them and my sweet husband and our children before the Throne one day and together cry, “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever!”
I’m counting on seeing you and your gang there among the billions.
So don’t waste your motherhood.