Some Thoughts on Parenting and Discipleship

The older my sons get, the more weaknesses I see in my parenting. I can’t remember a day in the last decade I have not had to ask forgiveness from one or more of them. They are very gracious to extend forgiveness to their sin-infested Dad.

On the positive side, I’m seeing some traction and progress in our discipleship. I was meeting with a group recently who were asking me what I do with the boys in discipleship. I thought the answer to that question might provide some ideas for some to build on, so I am going to give a brief outline of some of the things we are doing. But this post is not so much a declaration as an invitation. If you have ideas and experiences in discipleship, please add them in the comments section below and we can all profit.

  • I take each of the boys out for breakfast before school once a week. This is as simple as a muffin at Starbucks or an earlier morning at IHOP. I’m going through different things with each of them. They are in very different places in spiritual understanding because of their ages. We have read books together, gone over chapters of the Bible that address what they are working through in life, and sometimes we just talk about sports, hunting, or play hangman (that was this morning with my 5th grader). I try to end with a verse I’ve isolated for them that we simply read and pray through.
  • We try to talk about the biblical instruction they are receiving at church. Driving home from church on Sundays includes a debriefing of what they learned in their youth ministry groups and the regular service sermon. The same happens on Wednesday and after their discipleship meetings with leaders. Kim and I try to create and follow as many rabbit trails as we can to see what is at the end of their thinking.
  • Dinner times are great because they are magnetized to the table by their appetites. It’s fun to throw out a topic and see what they think. I’m not so interested in using this time for instruction as I am to simply see what and how they think.
  • Then there is “Monday Man School.” On Monday nights we try to get together to talk through issues of masculinity. This can include things like how to tie a tie (or better tie one), how to iron a shirt, how to skin and cook a rabbit, how to treat a lady (this an ongoing lesson), what to do when you get embarrassed in front of others, how to admit your wrong and why that’s important, how to match clothes, how to shave (better), and sometimes we just watch a football or basketball game together. Kim is a part sometimes, but this also gives her an escape from her world of boys for a night if she wants to go out for coffee with a friend, or get some alone time.
  • An important footnote is that there are always interruptions and exceptions to these activities. We rarely have a perfect week where everything happens, but we’re trying to make those the exceptions rather than the norm.

Then there are always the informal discussions that come up when you have kids. You can never let the antenna down and look for opportunities to speak into their worldview to encourage or correct it.

So what are you doing to disciple your kids? Or, what have you experienced in your discipleship relationships that has borne fruit? I hope this thread can help us all, whether or not we are parents.

12 Comments on “Some Thoughts on Parenting and Discipleship

  1. Thank you Ps. Rick.
    This does indeed provide me with a platform to build off for my child and future children, Lord willing.

    Matthew Johnston

  2. Rick,

    Thanks for the great thoughts. I especially like the idea of “Monday Man School”.

    Recently I have been thinking back over how we do family discipleship as I preached a 2 part Sermon Series on Deut. 6:1-9 at our church. (

    Vodie Bauchum’s book “Family Driven Faith” was a great complement to my study.

    We too have to admit our failure regularly, but we are encouraged by how God is using our feeble efforts through His grace.

    These are some of the things we are doing right now:

    -Daily Family Devotions. We have 3 boys (5 mo., almost 7, and 8) and a girl (5). Because of the ages we usually use Bible story books, but sometimes we read straight from the text. We spend time applying the truth to real life. We sing and pray as well.

    -We too enjoy dinners together and often find ourselves discussing things from a Christian worldview.

    -We too like to discuss what the kids are learning on the way home from church or church events. We like to sing Christian songs in the car as well.

    – I pray with the kids individually before bed.

    -We are in a time of frequent discipline and these are always opportunities for discipleship and instruction.

    -We try to plan regular trips into nature to behold our God’s wonder and we reflect on His majesty as creator.

    -We home school our children and focus our efforts on discipleship here.

    May the Lord raise up a generation for His glory!


  3. Great stuff. It seems like you are heeding the advice in Deut 6 that seems to be more occasional than planned: (rising up, sitting down, one the way). You may think you fail, but you are an example to us!

  4. “Then there is “Monday Man School.”…”
    As a single mom, this is the part that I worry about the most.

    What I’m doing right now:
    – Homeschooling…I know that it is the right decision, but I still question myself daily because it tends to be very haphazard since I work full-time from home.

    – We read a section of scripture every night, normally something I’ve read on my own that day so that I’m prepared with questions and answers. But occassionaly, we’ll fall back to the OT stories when the boy needs to have some heads roll with lots of killing.

    – Along with Bible reading, we’re slowly working our way through the Westminster Catechism, memorizing the answers and an appropriate verse. I try to explain the things we learn so it’s not just rote.

    – When we’re having discipline issues or there is a nasty habit/behavior that’s becoming apparent, I try to bring it all back to being worthless sinners->needing God->God offering salvation, etc. I think there have been times where I’ve hammered on sin too much because my son has gone up to friends & unsaved family and asked them about their sin and made sure they knew *everyone* sins.

    I have noticed that because we had gotten into a habit of praying for one missionary family a day, my son wants to/requests to pray at other times. That was an encouragement for me.

    As my son gets older, I want to start reading together biographies about men of God (Tyndale, Carey, Bunyan, Mueller,…).

    There are so many areas that I need to work on and direct my son more; most of the time, I feel like I am playing catch-up to what is going on in my son’s heart and mind.

  5. Praise God for Rick’s passion to disciple his sons – Oh, how I wish all FATHERS understood what Rick does. I hope I live long enough to see the fruit of these efforts and I am believing God will do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we can ask or even think in his boys lives

  6. My parents would have family prayer meetings. Read a chapter from the bible, each person picks a verse that stood out to them, explain why it stood out. Each person prays about the verse. Makes you think more about the chapter you just read :). We also sing using old hymnals from GCC that were on sale for cheap in the bookstore. Share prayer requests, pray for each other. Now my parents live overseas but we still share and pray over skype. I visit 2 ladies in q nursing home with two non-Christian coworkers who love the ladies and enjoy coming along! We sing, share prayer requests, pray. I didn’t think of it a lot before but maybe this was also from the influence / model that my parents set 🙂

  7. Rick,

    Great, honest thoughts. What is working best for my son and I is to read a chapter a night (most nights) from a book. Right now it’s “A Faith to Grow On” by MacArthur.
    It’s good to have time alone with my kids, as well as time together with all of us, talking about God and stuff.


  8. Pingback: Discipling your children « Strengthened by Grace

  9. Pingback: Weekly Links (2/4/2011) « The Beacon

  10. Hey Rick, thanks for the post! One of the things we do in our home is to take advantage of all that Eden learns at church. Our nursery ministry teaches a monthly lesson (same lesson for a month) that includes a Scripture memory passage in the form of a song. Eden loves it! She’s always looking forward to church and even tries to check herself in at the nursery. Haha! Hopefully I too will one day know the adventures of raising boys. =)

  11. I really like the breakfast idea. I find that my boys open up best when they are alone with me. I enjoy it as well. We’ll have to adopt that one.

    Kids are like sponges. I have been giving them distilled down versions of what I am studying in seminary. I find they are able to grasp far more than I anticipate. I am always taken aback when they reiterate something we discussed weeks prior with clear understanding.

    Scripture memory is another area where kids excel. I find I have to work hard to keep up with them. There is nothing more precious than listening to one of my sons reciting God’s Word!

    Gracia y paz

  12. Rick,

    Being part of a local church with a high view of scripture seems to be moving me and my 15 year old son (only child) at lightning speed concerning discipleship.

    We just recently put ourselves under the care of Pastor Tom Pennington at Country Side Bible Church here in Dallas and all I can say is Wow. We should have been here all along. The years I have wasted ignoring weak doctrine is over. I have been so duped.

    My advise to anyone. Find a MTS graduate who is shepherding a flock and park yourselves under him.

    I think also explaining to a kid where the power comes from for saying no to sin and doing this thing called Christianity will be the most liberating for any young kid. When a young person realizes that the same God who knew them in their mothers womb is the very same God ‘who works in them both to will and to do’…..Now that is helping a kid out.

    My son and I have also been talking about what knowledge is. Objective truth & subjective truth. Objective truth is 2 plus 2 equals 4 and subjective truth is experiencing objective truth- two apples & two oranges are four pieces of fruit that taste good and they can also be used in juggling. If we are being stingy by only pounding the objective truths into our kids without talking about the “how to’s”, we’ve lost them. What good is knowing 2+2=4 if you don’t experience it. And if you can’t experience it how else can discernment be learned? “Don’t let sin reign in your mortal body” son. Yeah, yeah dad that’s scripture, that’s cool and all, but how? How dad? Son, when you or I experience the pain of sin, the grieving that is going on in our hearts mind there you know? Yes yes dad, that, I hate that. Well, you know how it is when mom says “starve a cold, feed a fever”? Yeah dad. Well starve yourself from trying to kill sin by your own body’s might and feed your heart/mind with the bread of life (daily) and watch the Holy Spirit go to work in you to kill sin from reigning. That’s the only way brother man. That’s the “how to”.

    To me the primary thing after salvation a person needs to be made a learner of is the “how to” when new sins & their ghostly sins come a haunting.

    Phil Bradshaw

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