In these next few articles, I want to talk about something that is very close to my heart. I want to talk about raising children and link it to lessons on discipleship. Many have spoken on what it takes to be a disciple but in this series I wish to address what it takes to disciple others. In another words, what kind of discipler should one be.
Now I am no expert in child psychology, however, my 15 years in ministry have taught me much about discipleship which provided me with understanding about raising children.
Similarly, my 9 years as a parent have shed further insights on raising children and discipling them.
My personal conviction: My Children Should Be My Best Disciples in Life.
I believe that if I fail to teach and disciple them in the ways of God, I would have missed the mark in ministry somehow.
The bible says in Psalms 127:3~5:
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
It does not matter if you have kids or not, or if you are married or not, or even if you are a leader of some sort or not; we all need to know about raising children (whether spiritual or natural ones) because it has everything to do with what Jesus Christ has commanded us to do before He left this world ….
Go therefore and MAKE DISCIPLES… (Matt 28:19)
DISCIPLESHIP is about raising children (natural and/or spiritual).
Children Are Gifts From Heaven
Ethan John Dunn
It was 2003; Derek and I felt it was time in our marriage for us to have children. In addition, I had turned 36 and knew that I did not want to delay further. My gynecologist told us that it would not be as easy due to my age and also the fact that I have been taking contraceptive pills for 2 years. She told us that it would probably take at least 2 years to regulate the ovulation again.
I heard the report of the professional but I trusted the report of my God! The word again in Psalms 127:3 says that “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward”.
I told the Lord that I want to claim my inheritance and I asked for my firstborn to be a son! God did not give me a rhema word but I had peace in my heart that the word of God would come to pass.
Strangely enough, God spoke in a still small one day when my husband and I came together. He said, “I have heard your prayer and you are now with child.” I turned to my husband and told him and he looked at me in unbelief.
Two weeks later the confirmation came when I missed the time of the month and the pregnancy kit showed and confirmed that I was pregnant! The gynecologist confirmed it when I was 8 weeks into my pregnancy.
We named him “Ethan ” even before she could confirm that it was a boy. But we knew.
Ethan ( Hebrew in Origin) which means to be Steadfast in Truth.
Erin Joy Dunn
Derek and I had planned to have at least 2 little ones. Ethan had just turned 1 and I was 38. This time I hoped to have a baby girl. We tried for many months but each month the result was a disappointment. I remembered crying in the bathroom when the pregnancy test kit came back with a negative again.
Fear of ‘I have passed my child bearing years’ crept in. It did not help that my doctor said that I was actually menstruating but not ovulating! Again, I turned to God and began to claim my inheritance. “Children are a heritage from God; happy would be a woman whose quiver is full of them!”
This time there was no still small voice but an awakening at 4am one morning! I woke up wide awake and felt the prompting to go down to my study room and do my devotion.
I was led to read Isaiah 66. The rhema was in verse 9…
“Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?” says the Lord. “Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?” says your God.
Then the Holy Spirit led me to turn on your computer and do a search on the various translation of Isaiah 66. The next thing I knew I had an open vision and God began to rewrite Isaiah 66: 11 and this is what I saw….
“You shall have daughters nursing by your bosoms…”
I knew that the time had come and the baby girl that I have been praying for 8 months was coming. Indeed, the bible says that God is not a man that He should lie. In a month’s time after that encounter, I was pregnant!
We named her “Erin”. Erin ( Irish in Origin) which means Peace.
Erika Noelle Dunn
My third child came as a surprise. I found out I was pregnant again in the US when we were visiting with Derek’s family for our yearly home leave.
Ethan was only 2 and Erin was barely 5 months old and I was exhausted and finding out that I was pregnant again brought mixed feelings.
It took a while for me but I finally began to accept and felt the excitement once again for another addition to the family. I had always thought that if I would have a 3rd kid, I would like to have another boy. However, the doctor told us that it was going to be another girl.
While praying one day, the Lord gently reminded me and He said “Why are you surprised that this is a girl for have I not told you that you would have DAUGHTERS nursing by your bosoms?”
I had a good laugh that day. Yes the Lord had said so just that I was not listening. I was going to have another girl and she was truly a gift from God!
We named her “Erika” which means Honorable Ruler or Royalty.
Just like any child, Ethan, Erin and Erika are deliberate gifts from God.
He had created them in heaven and sent them on earth for us to care for them.
We need to understand then:
Our children first came from God. God has a vested interest in every child. Parents are stewards entrusted by God for the purpose of nurturing them into the men and women who will fulfil their destiny.
Disciples are Birthed Out of the Spirit
Just because you have a child it doesn't qualify you to be a nurturing parent.
Just because you have people you are responsible for, it doesn't qualify you to be their discipler.
Disciples are more than just members attending your meeting. I have met many leaders but not all are disciplers.
A discipler is like a spiritual parent or a spiritual coach. Matthew 28 said that we are to make disciples but how or when does one become a real discipler or spiritual parent?
Everything starts with a desire. Just as I desired to be a mom, one has to desire to disciple and nurture others. What is true in the natural is true in the spirit.
Do you want to be more than a leader?
Do you want to be a spiritual parent and begin to birth forth true disciples for Christ?
This is how you begin:
Develop the DESIRE to become a spiritual parent
Don’t be satisfied with conducting meetings and preaching to your people week after week. Don’t be satisfied with your title as a leader or the numbers in your gathering. The fact of the matter is the strength of any group is not as much in its quantity as it is in its quality. And discipleship develops quality. Be hungry to raise up sons and daughters in the faith – to duplicate yourself and impart all that you know with the hope that they will be greater than you. I believe this is the heart of Christ.
John 14:12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father” God has commanded us to make disciples and this is exactly what every individual Jesus followers must do. This is not a commandment for the leaders only. It is for you and I – the followers of Jesus Christ. We have to have a heart for it. God will never force us; it is a choice we make.
Seek out the people God has opened their hearts to you
Not everyone in that group is ready to be a disciple at this point in time. However, there are people who are ready and who are the 100-fold return for this season. Seek them out and build a mutually meaningful relationship with them. Without a genuine relationship, discipleship is literally non-existent. We have to develop relationship with the one we feel called to disciple. Relationship building takes time and effort and out of this effort, trust is built.
Get a burden for those you are called to
When you have identified the people who are ready to be discipled, bear them in your heart and begin to intercede for them in the spirit – prophesying over them what you wish to see happen in their walk with God and the breakthroughs that they are believing for in their lives. Begin to be the positive voice and influence in their lives. Sow what you have received from God into them.
It is an inherent desire of every human being to reproduce after themselves. This is how God has created us to be. As it is in the natural, so it is in the spirit. Every Christian who is born again has the desire and the responsibility to leave a spiritual legacy in someone else.
As I share along this line, I pray that this series of sharing will help you and be a blessing as I share from my experiences.
At the same time, should you have specific questions regarding raising children or discipleship, do feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.