What do you think of when you’re challenged with the grand task of discipling the next generation—especially when they’re not even out of lower elementary yet? Although there’s great potential, there are also numerous pitfalls. Increasing godlessness isn’t a figment of the imaginations of hysterical prudes; it’s a reality in the progression of the biblical story. Paul describes these last days for Timothy (2 Tim. 3:1–5, 12–13; cf. Rom. 1:28–32), but he also assures Timothy that there is an antidote (2 Tim. 3:14–17). Making sure children are founded in the Word can’t wait until they’re teens or young adults; the stabilizing discipleship in the Word must begin now.
What is character? What is Christlikeness? Character is the inward reality of a person’s integrity. It’s more than what a person does; it’s who that person is. (However, who a person is will be manifested in what that person does.) Thus, Christlikeness must be at the root of character. Teaching character doesn’t necessarily lead to Christlikeness, but Christlikeness will produce good character. The primary goal must be to lead our children to establish a relationship with Christ by bowing the knee and confessing Him as Lord (Phil. 2:6–11) so that they can have the mind of Christ (2:5) and demonstrate the working out of their salvation in Christlike character in the midst of a perverse world (2:12–16).
What’s your role if you’re a teacher (rather than the child’s parent)?
- Involvement with parents—communication, reinforcement, and partnership. Plan and build into your busy schedule ways to bolster these things beyond a once- or twice-a-year parent-teacher conference.
- Building trust with your students. Show them that you understsand and care about the struggles they’re going through; find ways to encourage and help.
Thinking on your feet may not be your forte. Plan ahead to apply the wisdom of the Word to the daily situations of life that arise on the spur of the moment. This is how younger kids learn the Bible’s wisdom. Every situation is an opportunity to provide examples of the pithy wisdom of Proverbs or Jesus’ teaching. Immerse yourself daily in the Word (or even memorize it) so that you can have an automatic response to their spiritual needs as situations come up. Start with the proverbs, the Beatitudes, the fruit of the Spirit, the love chapter (1 Cor. 13), or the essential virtues of 2 Peter 1:5–8. These daily practical reminders from pithy scriptural wisdom will be more powerful and lasting than any of our feeble human reasons or bargaining for obedience.
What opportunities have you found to disciple your children or students?