3 Ways to Become a Disciple-Making Dad
With the majority of the nation working from home over the past year, we’ve been at home with our children more than ever before. But the real question is: have we really been more present at home?
“Fathers, be present at home”. This was the rallying cry for fathers to be involved in discipleship at home. Yet, one common myth that most people believe in is that fathers are the absent disciple-maker because they do not care.
As a father myself, I beg to differ. In fact, so do 97% of fathers in Singapore who - according to an article by Focus on the Family - expressed that they want to work for a company which supports them in managing work and family commitments1. So, the reality is this: fathers do want to be involved in the lives of their children but they’re simply starved for time in the face of many other commitments.
How then do fathers be more involved in discipleship at home in a time-starved society like ours? Here, I share 3 possible ways that we can raise, not just good children, but godly children.
In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul urges the Corinthian churches to imitate him as he imitates Christ. Another way of putting it is the age-old axiom, “Discipleship is more caught than taught”.
Fathers, allow your children to witness you being a disciple of Christ. This is not just about how you live your public life, but more importantly, how you live your private life. When no one else is looking, let your children catch you reading the Bible, let them catch you on your knees, let them see you giving sacrificially to your neighbours, let them witness you confessing your mistakes and seeking forgiveness.
As we model the Christian life to our children, we create an opportunity for the next point.
MOMENTS – SEIZE THEM
When your children notice you ‘wasting time’ with God or people and ask: “daddy, why are you doing that?”, a right teaching moment presents itself. Seize moments like these to teach your children about God.
Throughout all the gospel accounts, we see Jesus doing this with His disciples. Whether it was pointing out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, showing compassion to the outcasts, or expressing His disappointment in the lack of faith among the Twelve, Jesus seized these moments and turned them into teaching points to instruct and affirm.
Similarly, we can also seize the right teaching moments with our children by creating opportunities through conversations. One way I do this with my 3-year-old daughter is before her bedtime.
Whenever I put her to bed, we will have conversations about what made her happy, sad or angry that day. My follow-up question would be to ask how she responded and why. In these moments, I get to enter her world and empathise with her. But more importantly, I get to seize these teaching moments to direct her to God-glorifying responses.
Well, you probably saw this last one coming but the truth is that we will always be busy. Yet, we also make time for things that are important to us and discipling our children should inevitably be one of them.
One of the ways that children experience love is through the time that’s given to them. If we do not give them our time, something else will. Our children will always be a disciple of something, and if we do not make time to disciple them, the world will.
That said, I acknowledge that discipleship is not a solo effort. I see my wife as an important partner in this process of raising godly children. One practical way I contribute to this process is to be involved in the household chores. This way, my wife will have the time and energy to play a part in nurturing the souls of our children.
So Fathers, let us play a part in raising a generation that will proclaim the works and mighty acts of God to the generations to come (Psalm 145:4). After all, what better place is there to raise a godly generation than to start from our homes.
1 Jason Wong, Active Fatherhood is Not An Option, It is Essential, Focus on the Family, 19 Jun 2019, https://www.family.org.sg/FOTFS/Blog/Social_Issues/Active_fatherhood_is_not_an_option_it_is_essential.aspx?WebsiteKey=11f0aade-7b5c-48d5-9144-e91db15b0ad3