The Bible says, “Go and make disciples,” but I’ve got kids! That sounds like a lot of work: mission trips, extra programs, new wardrobe of flowing robes, maybe?
I’m not afraid of work, but here’s the deal. I’m already over my head in “work.” I’m trying to get all my kids’ teeth brushed, hair combed, and coats on before they walk out the door. And then there’s the day job, and then there’s dinner, and then there are bedtime routines, and then I’m done!
How are parents supposed to be good disciples on top of all that—and then go and make disciples?
I get overly focused on box-checking, and it takes a toll on the relationship part of discipleship. Jesus doesn’t want my frantic, harried activity to prove I love Him. He just wants me. But how can I make myself available to Him, and then go and make disciples, when I feel like I’m not even available to myself?
As I reflected on it, I learned a little bit about what “disciple” and “discipleship” really mean. It’s about being a learner or follower. That’s it. No mission trip or flowing robe required. (Unless God tells you to. That’s another story.)
Here are a few ways we as busy parents can make ourselves available to Jesus so we can be disciples and go and make disciples.
Make It First
Sure, this means finding a few minutes before your kids start screaming for breakfast, but it helps to handle all the rest of the regular day-in, day-out stuff. I can learn from Jesus in my comfy covers before I get out of bed, and I can set my feet on the right path to before I’ve taken my first step. Read the Bible, a Bible Plan, or a devotional. Pray, then listen. Be quiet with God before you get dragged onto the next thing.
We can be learners anywhere, anytime. The Bible App makes it even easier! I’ve already got my phone with me all the time, so I can do a Bible Plan or read a chapter in the Bible while I’m sitting on the can, use the audio Bible while I shower, or listen to a podcast while I cook (or drive through the drive-through—don’t judge me!). Basketball practice is a great time to read a book about growing closer to Jesus, or I could listen to a sermon while I work out—if I worked out (seriously, don’t judge me!). By filling myself with God’s Word and communicating with Him no matter what’s going on, I’m growing as a disciple instead of disintegrating into a crazy banshee mommy.
Look for Quiet Spaces
Learning and connecting with Jesus has to have quiet spaces, too. Search for those quiet moments. The commute after you drop your kids off? The two minutes you get alone in the bathroom with the door locked? Maybe you’re really lucky and you still have energy after you put your kids to bed? Use those times to ask God to lead you with His Holy Spirit, and to give you the strength to obey His quiet prompting. By staying in conversation with God and taking the time to be still and quiet with Him, He will show you what you can do to fulfill His plan and purpose for your life one small step at a time.
Make Your Home Your Mission Field
Making more disciples is one of our greatest commands from Jesus. It’s the great commission, spelled out for us in the book of Matthew.
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 NLT
This is where I get a little stressed out—because it’s no longer just me and Jesus, but it’s me, Jesus, and everyone in the world who doesn’t know Him yet. Yikes! But, fellow parent, we don’t have to start on the other side of the world. The great commission can happen at home—your kids are your first mission field!
You don’t have to force Bible reading each day for an hour or insist on quiet prayer. Do the same for your kids that you do for yourself—work discipleship into real life. When they have a great day, pray a thankful prayer with them to God. When they’re struggling or your family is hurting, bring your kids together and lay that pain at the feet of Jesus. On the ride to school together, worship God, pray, or listen to music about Him. Let your kids hear the questions you have, and let them ask the questions they have without judgment. Talk it through as best you can. You don’t have to have all the answers. Your consistency and the deep peace you have in staying connected to Jesus speaks more to your kids than if you could answer every question perfectly.
Let Others Help
Being a disciple is a personal journey, but it’s not a journey you’re meant to take alone. Make church a priority, and find a group of friends you can meet with regularly who can turn you to Jesus when you get distracted or life throws crap at you. You need help, not just for you, but for your kids, too.
You don’t have to be the only voice in their life saying God is good. You don’t have to be the only one who can shoulder their difficult questions. You don’t have to be the only one who cares about their spiritual journey. When you’re at church, your kids are in kids’ church—and they’re being discipled and led there just like you are in your grown-up service. When you’re talking about life with friends who care, your kids are listening or they’re spending time with other kids who have parents who love Jesus. As they watch and participate, they’re learning that discipleship isn’t just a personal relationship at home, but a shared relationship to be the hands and feet of Jesus.