We all know that children grow up fast. When it’s not our own children, we notice how much they grow and change every time we see them, especially if it’s only a couple of times a year. But when they live with you…That’s another story.
The days melt together until one day you wake up and your kids are moving out of your house and beginning their lives out on their own. “Have I taught them everything they need to know?’ you ask yourself. Granted you will still have opportunities to give them guidance after they leave your house, but never like you did when they lived with you.
When it comes to discipling—teaching them the ways of God—how do you do it? Do you read God’s Word with them and teach them that way? Do you have family devotionals at mealtime or bedtime? Do you make sure they go to church regularly and hope that they learn something there?
The question is how much of that sinks in and sticks with them? I am sure some does, or at least I hope some does.
I think there is one sure way to disciple your children so that it does stick with them.
Live a sent life.
Serve other people. Go on mission trips. Together. Don’t just send them, go with them. Especially with other families.
Serving together in a mission setting, whether it’s for one day or several, along with other families will give you many life application opportunities. Your children will learn from you as you model God’s way for living. This way of discipling will reinforce everything you verbally teach them.
Here are 6 Life Lessons your child will learn:
- How other people are important. We all think we are the center of the universe. And, in some aspects I guess that is true. Our children need to know that we delight in them. They need to know that God delights in them. During there first year or so of life that’s imperative. But, then they need to learn that others are just as important regardless of their status in life. You can tell them this until you are out of breath. But until they actually place someone else’s needs above their own, it probably won’t sink in.
- How to overcome challenges. On a mission trip or a day of serving someone else, most likely something will go wrong or present a challenge. Your children will watch how you handle adversity. Will you scream, cuss, and throw things. Or will Holy Spirit fruit, like patience and kindness, manifest through your actions. I guarantee they will remember your response for the rest of their lives.
- How to serve. It’s one thing to talk about living God’s way. This way of discipling will teach your kids to “walk the talk”.
- How to appreciate what they have. Ever think, “Geez, my kids are spoiled!” Most of us spend more time thinking about how we can entertain and show our kids a fun time than we do about how we can do things together that will disciple them. When we spend every Spring Break and most of summer break vacationing we create an entitlement attitude rather than one of service.
- How to pray. No better way to learn how to pray than when you really need to talk to God. In this setting we get to see God answer, sometimes immediately. That builds faith.
- How to depend on God. When we spend a day or more focused on serving others, we look to God for guidance, wisdom, His presence and more. We get to see His power.
Mission trips provide a microcosm of life. What could take years for our children to experience, if ever, can, and probably will happen in just a few days in a mission trip environment.
Can you share a brief story of how you have seen your child grow in their faith while serving on a short-term mission trip?