this post probably should have been earlier in the series... but better late than never :)
i have touched on the many benefits of being a stay at home mom, as well as God's creation of biblical femininity. but what is the main job/purpose of a mother? there are a few, but i will highlight one very important one: discipling her children.
why is discipleship important?
before we go further, let me define discipleship, since it is a church-y word that we can sometimes throw around without thinking about the implications. discipleship is teaching about jesus and the bible, while modeling godliness, and exhorting and encouraging in faith.
for christian parents, the goal of parenting is to raise children who know jesus, and follow him closely. although God is ultimately in control of their salvation and maturity, God uses means of discipleship to do this.
in recent years, with the advent of the role of youth pastors and private christian schools, many parents have (unfortunately) assumed that discipleship is the responsibility of christian teachers and youth pastors. however, the main responsibility for discipleship is most certainly the parents'. and while there are many contributing factors, it seems that this lack of emphasis on discipleship within the family has contributed to the decline of children of christian parents deciding to also follow jesus (though again, to be sure, God is ultimately in control of salvation).
what does the bible say about discipleship?
"so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us." 1 thessalonians 2:8
"you shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. you shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth." deuteronomy 11:18-21
both of these verses are a beautiful picture of discipleship.
there are three themes in these verses about discipleship that i will highlight.
discipleship is continuous.
"you shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise"
"we were ready to share with you... our own selves"
children are constantly learning. every minute of the day they are building their understanding of God and the foundations for their world view. God instructs that this learning should come from their parents.
every minute of the day is full of opportunities to point our children to jesus through our words and actions. it is important for mothers to be as available to their children as possible, so that they they can take full advantage of every opportunity. usually we can not even anticipate the key teaching moments, which especially necessitate this availability.
discipleship happens through family devotion time, and reading the bible and praying together before bed. it also happens when a child comes home crying from school because he was picked on that day, or when a child disobeys and must be disciplined. children need their mothers to be open for counseling, theological discussion and life questions. the more time, the better. discipleship must be a priority so that every situation can be used to its full advantage to point to jesus.
this type of whole-life discipleship is a big responsibility, taking lots of time and energy. it can best be accomplished when a mother can fully focus on discipleship with minimal other distractions.
discipleship happens in words and deeds.
"we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves..."
"you shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul... you shall teach them to your children..."
paul emphasizes two qualities in sharing the gospel: boldness and clarity (ephesians 6:19-20 and colossians 4:3-4). boldness happens by teaching God's word outright. clarity happens through living out the truths of the bible in relationships. both boldness and clarity are needed to disciple our children well.
boldness happens while reading the bible together and leading in prayer, celebrating christ-centered holidays and explaining the gospel and other spiritual truths to our children. clarity happens when children see these truths lived out. parents should comfort their children (which points to the fact that God is our ultimate comforter), repent of sin (allowing their children to see their need for the gospel), discipline their children in love (which helps them understand that God disciplines those he loves), have fun with their children (to show that following God leads to joy) and pursue relationship with their children (just as God pursues relationship with his children).
discipleship yields fruit
"you shall teach them to your children... that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth."
when we take steps of faith and make sacrifices (such as giving up a career) to disciple our children, God will bless it (see also psalm 112). these passages are truisms and not promises, but they teach that God uses godly parents to raise up children that will be blessed by him.
in eternity, the decision to put our full time, energy and effort into discipling our children will not be one that we regret.
but what about widows and single moms? click to go on to the next part of the series....