This is an excerpt from HomeLife Magazine.
For the parent, there is no shortage of books, blog posts, podcasts, and conferences to help remind us that we should be discipling our children. This is a good thing. Shaping our children’s faith is one of the most critical tasks God has given us. But over the years, I’ve noticed that many authors, speakers, and preachers will almost unintentionally imply a difference between parenting and discipleship. We’re left with the impression that parenting is the non-God stuff and discipleship is the God stuff. Unfortunately, this distinction isn’t accurate.
I’ve got news for all of us parents: There is no difference between parenting and discipleship.
Parenting and discipleship aren’t two different categories. There is no line between the secular and the sacred. As Christ-followers who have come to a saving relationship with Jesus, we live every day tasked with interjecting the sacred into the secular. That’s what it means to see God’s kingdom come. We’re in the world but not of the world. Yet, our lives are lived as an infusion of God’s light into the darkness. This is a primary theme in Scripture.
We’re disciple-makers. We’re parents. There is no distinction.
As Christians, we can’t turn on and turn off the “God” part of our lives. We see our world and lives through the lens of our identity in Christ. Parenting is the same way.
Think about it: Your every interaction teaches your children how individuals who have surrendered their life to God conduct themselves. You’re modeling what it looks like to live as someone transformed by God in everything you do. You’re showing your children what a disciple looks like, and you’re doing so in every single interaction and conversation.
Consider the time you spend associated with your child’s extracurricular activities. Think about your interactions at the field or the court. Think about the conversations you have surrounding your child’s performance. Recall things you’ve said about coaches or players. In every interaction, in every conversation, you’re not just parenting, you’re discipling.
In those beautiful moments when you talk with your child about spiritual issues or lead them in a Bible study, we’d all agree that this is discipleship. This is what it looks like for parents to fulfill their calling as the primary spiritual shapers of their children’s faith. But it’s also parenting. At its essence, parenting is providing for the well-being of our children. Is there anything more important than their spiritual well-being?
When you and your spouse discipline your children because of a poor decision they made, you’re not just parenting them, you’re discipling them.
How can we say this? What justification is there to erase the lines of distinction between the secular and the sacred? The rationale is pretty simple: Every interaction with our children is a chance for us to model what it means to live as someone being shaped by God and attempting to live out His character. When we grasp this truth, it becomes clear. We’re disciple-makers. We’re parents. There is no distinction.
Every parenting interaction we have is discipleship. Every disciple-making interaction we have is parenting.
Let’s be parents who don’t fall into the trap of compartmentalizing the faith aspects of parenthood from real life. When we do this, not only are we acting in a way that is unbiblical, we shrink our influence. The sooner we can learn to approach every interaction with our children as discipleship, we will find that the spiritual impact we have on their lives is far more significant than we might imagine.