I read once, a long time ago, that children were their parents’ first disciples. Not in the sense of being the first people the parents had ever discipled, but rather the people the parents discipled the most.
After I passed the initial stage of insecurity as a mother and as a consequence of my increased growth in security as the mother chosen by God for my children, I developed a stronger awareness of God’s desire to use me.
Before, I regarded my purpose as a Christian mother to be sharing Bible stories with my children. But God wanted more. His desire for me was that I share life with my children.
The truth was my children were my God-given disciples placed in my life to learn from me, live with me, and follow me. And follow me they did!
Even when that somewhere was the bathroom! Who else better to be my disciples but my own little ducks?
Jesus had many disciples, but it’s interesting to note that He invested in twelve to be his close disciples, and of those twelve he chose three to be his intimate disciples – Peter, James, and John.
In the same way, he gave me many people to disciple, but three to be the most intimate: Abby, Priscila, and Daniel.
As my children’s rabbi (i.e. teacher) I came to see that I did this by teaching the word, sharing life stories, encouraging them in gratitude towards their Heavenly Father, challenging them to develop their own relationship with Jesus, exemplifying service, and so much more.
In terms of sharing life, I found that when we were experiencing a difficult situation as a family, for instance, a financial problem, I could share that with my children.
Because they were children, they were too little to handle some things, so I just shared the general problem. Then we talked about it, read God’s word and prayed together. Finally, when there was an answer to our prayer, we talked through it and thanked God.
The times we did this as a family were so beneficial. It was about making faith relevant for our everyday lives. It was in essence making the most of every opportunity.
Making the most of every opportunity
One area I was insecure about in my personality in my early motherhood was my task-driven nature, and one of the things I felt God showed me was to use my task time to spend time with my children.
This was particularly important when it came to discipling my children because even though sometimes it was right for me to stop a given task and spend quality time with them, I also felt that God was showing me I could connect with my children in meaningful ways while I was working.
Rather than rush through my tasks on my own to then sit down and spend quality time with the children, I could share my life with them. In other words, I could learn to connect with them as I served them or others, and in doing so I would teach them how to love and serve others too.
Before this, I thought I needed to compartmentalise my time with my children as focused time and non-focused time. In the focused time, we would do something together and in the non-focused time, they would be elsewhere in the house, and I would get on with my work.
This realisation of God’s will for me to connect with my children as I worked, however, showed me that I had got it wrong. Yes, it was important to have focused time doing something fun together.
But when I was working, I could also be connecting with the children and even inviting them to join me. Needless to say, this didn’t apply to all types of work – like writing! But it did apply to a lot of my work.
To be honest, it’s something I still struggle with at times, as I find it easier to work on my own. When I’m alone I can listen to music, an audiobook, or a podcast while I’m employed with my tasks. I can feed myself, as it were.
There is a time for this, like when my children are happy playing together. But when the opportunity comes for me to be present with my children while I’m working, I need to take up my cross, because it is costly for me, and walk with it.
This may mean sharing with them stories from my childhood while I prepare a meal. Or it may mean asking the children about their day while I do the laundry. Or it may inviting them to join me in the chores and talking to them about Jesus.
In Ephesians 5:15-16, Paul says: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (NIV).
These two verses are written in the context of Paul’s encouragement to the Ephesians to walk in the way of love (verse 2), to live as children of light (verse 8), and to live in submission to God’s will.
These verses are often used in the context of personal evangelism, in terms of Christians making the most of every opportunity to tell non-Christians about the Gospel. I believe this to be true, but I also believe I can apply this verse to my discipleship of my children. That God will lead me when my heart opens to Him.
The truth is, I can’t do it in my own strength. I need God to work in me, helping me to make the most of every opportunity with my children.
After all, my purpose as a mother is to lead my children to God. It’s a calling.
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