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When I first started this ministry over eleven years ago the question on the mind of parents was, “Am I really responsible for discipling my children? That’s why I bring them to this church. It is their responsibility.”

By God’s grace and his Spirit, that question has changed. Now, the question from most parents goes something like this, “I know I am responsible to pass the faith to them. But how do I do it?”

I answer this question in both The Disciple-Making Parent and in the conferences I conduct. But I want to take some time in these emails over the next newsletters to spell out the how of family discipleship.

Specifically I focus on 7 commitments that parents should make. In this email, let’s think about the third commitment. I hope that after you read through these seven you will be both encouraged and challenged. Encouraged by thinking, “This is doable.” And also challenged to take further steps. 

The third commitment I encourage disciple-making parents to make is this:  

Model a living and loving faith.

Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Cor 11:1).

Do you know the number one reason kids give for walking away from the faith? 

Hypocrisy in a parent or spiritual leader.

What is hypocrisy? Is it saying one thing and doing another? Is it professing to love God with our lips but not really living like it? But all of us fall short. Is that hypocrisy? No, hypocrisy is falling short and not really caring! If is falling short and not desiring to repent or change.

Hypocrisy is a killer of a young person’s faith.
A Living Faith
Timothy followed the Lord because he knew those from who he learned it (2 Tim. 3:15). That should be an encouragement to every parent, grandparent,  youth worker, and  children’s worker. In addition, Paul is clear about what he saw in Timothy’s home. Paul writes, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Tim. 1:5).

Did you notice it? Paul said Timothy’s mother and grandmother had a living faith. 

Your example is powerful. Our children are watching how we walk with God. Rightly we should feel the weight that our homes are a stage where our children see us living out our faith. Our example in our home will either commend the faith or condemn the faith.
A Hard Place to Live the Gospel
Here’s what makes that last statement so difficult. Our homes are often the first and hardest place we live out the gospel. 
Who sees us when we are tired?  Who can speak a word that can irritate us? Who interrupts when all we want to do is watch the game? Our family members are our nearest neighbor and see us in our worst moments.

Both raising children and marriage can be difficult. Your home is the first place where God is molding you and making you like his Jesus.  Martin Luther said, “Marriage is better school for character than any monastery for it is here that your corners are rubbed off.”

Sharon and I love each other but we are very, very different. We have had to work hard at our marriage. Time and time again after a disagreement I have had to take the Scriptures and say something like this to myself, “Love is patient. Was I as patient as Christ?” Love is kind. Was I as kind as Christ? Love is not rude. Was I rude? Love is not easily angered. Was I easily angered?”  Then I see that I have something to ask forgiveness of.
Until we recover home as the first place we live out the gospel, for our practical sanctification, we are going to keep losing our children.  But if you will let God work in your heart, he will use your family to make you more loving, more kind, more humble, more self-controlled. 

Negatively – Fighting Sin
How do I need to watch my life at home – for two thing. Negatively, is there sin to repent of and positively, what do my children see? A true gospel family is not perfect home. That’s not the gospel. A true gospel family lives with grace and asks forgiveness and loves each other. Anger, in particular, is a sin that can be hidden in the home. See the resource highlighted below, Parenting with Patience, that can help you overcome anger. 

Positively – Loving Jesus and His People
But it is not only the negative our children are watching but also the positive. D.A. Carson has said, “My students will pick up on what I am excited about and that had better be the gospel.” How do you worship on Sunday morning – passionately? Are you excited about What God is doing in your life? My challenge to you is to be just as excited about the Lord as you are about what happens on the football or soccer field. Do your children see your positive modeling of a devotional time in the Scriptures?  

This principles applies to all of us, even those not parents. Young people are watching you and deciding if your faith is real. That’s why I am so thankful for grandparents, Sunday school teachers, and youth ministers.  Your positive love for Jesus is being observed by others! 
Weak Enough for Grace?
Knowing my children are watching, you might say, “Then it’s over. I yelled at the kids getting them into the car at the babysitters.” Or “We are a mess. We can’t even get to church on Sunday morning without me getting upset.”

We need to return to the gospel. Our children don’t need perfect parents (there aren’t any). They need parents who see their need for grace and forgiveness. They need parents who own up to their sin, confess it and are growing. They need parents who are parenting dependent on the Holy Spirit.
Listen to this quote from Charles Spurgeon in light of your parenting: “A primary qualification for serving God with any amount of success and for doing God’s work well and triumphantly, is a sense of our own weakness.”

The question is, Are you weak enough to see your need for grace? God knew what he was doing when he gave these children to you. He is not surprised by your sin.

Family life will always be messy, but you can parent with the Holy Spirit’s help. The first place you live out the gospel is in your home.

The third commitment of a disciple-making parent is we want to model a living and loving faith.

Practical Applications
How do we apply this practically?  Let me make some suggestions.
1. Is there any secret sin in your home? Get help today. You owe each other protection but not secrecy.
2. If you are married, are you modeling a healthy marriage? Do you have times you get away for the two of you?
3. Are you reading a paper Bible so your children can see you?
4. Are you sharing what you are learning in the Word? Or what the Lord is teaching you?