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Helping Your Kids Know God Better

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
July 8, 2022 6:00 am

Helping Your Kids Know God Better

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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July 8, 2022 6:00 am

Chap Bettis encourages parents to be more intentional about sharing the Gospel with their children. Chap also addresses “pharisee parenting” where moms and dads need to be sure their own walk with the Lord is solid before preaching to their kids.

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I think the goal for me would be for them to have good character. My biggest goal, quite honestly, is for them to grow up and be good friends. That they really find what they're passionate about doing, whether that's being a mechanic or an engineer, whatever that might be, and that they would be able just to pursue that and enjoy that as a career and really see some purpose in doing that as well. Well, what goals do you have for your children? What we just heard sound like some good ideas, but what about the spiritual growth of your kids? What are you aiming for? This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, and we're going to examine the process of faith training or discipleship today and how you can effectively do that with your kids.

Thanks for joining us. I'm John Fuller. John, we don't often hear the word discipleship these days, but thousands of years ago, this approach of education or to education was quite normal. A teacher would gather a group of followers or disciples to instruct them, and the goal of a disciple was not only to learn from their teacher, but to imitate their way of life and become like them. I think Ray Vanderlaan, for those that know the series, That the World May Know, this is something he really teaches, that the disciples were really asked to follow the steps of Jesus, literally. I had the privilege of going to the Middle East with Ray, and Jean and I both, and that was the main point.

You do what the rabbi says to do, and you walk the way he walks, and that's really emphasized in Jewish tradition. I think that's why Jesus spent three years pouring into those 12 men and why he calls us his disciples today. Here's something our guest shared that I found fascinating. The word Christian only appears three times in the New Testament. Did you know that?

I did not, no. The word disciple appears 269 times, so there's obviously something of value we can all learn about discipleship today. Yeah, and this is something that is so critical, passing on our faith to the next generation. It's one of the biggest needs that we hear about from parents these days, Jim.

They call us, they contact us here at Focus, saying, How do I do this better? Yeah, that's the big question in parenting, and we want to help you with that. That's why we've invited Chap Bettis to join us. He was a pastor for 25 years before starting a ministry called The Disciple-Making Parent. Good title.

And he's an author and speaker, and he has a passion to help us do this job of discipling our children better. And I want to say welcome, Chap. Well, thank you. It's a little late. I've got 21- and 19-year-olds, but I guess I could still do this, right?

It's never too late. That's it. Well, Chap has written a great book that's going to be the foundation for our conversation today, The Disciple-Making Parent. We've got copies of that here at the ministry.

Stop by the episode notes for details. Chap, you believe many Christian parents are confused about this idea of discipling their own children. In fact, you say it's kind of a countercultural thing.

Why is it countercultural? Well, I think every parent wants to give their kids the best. The question is, what is the best?

Okay, what is it? Well, we're surrounded by people who say the best is sports, the best is education, the best is a number of experiences. I want to give my kids lots of experiences. But what I want to do is ask from the perspective of 10,000 years, what is best? And the answer to that, if we're Christians, is the gospel. And really, I think sometimes in one side of our brain, we have our parenting philosophy, we have what we know about the Bible on the other side. And I want to bring those together and say God hasn't just given you a baby.

He's given you an eternal soul to influence. Is it a matter of degrees, though? I mean, I think it's reasonable for a parent to say, I hope my son or daughter grows up to do fill in the blank. I mean, and if you see that interest as an 8, 9, 10-year-old, you're going to – it's probably one of the reasons kids are in so many sports programs, right?

Because I had the next NFL quarterback right in my own family or whatever it might be. But maybe it's a question of emphasis. And so you want to develop them vocationally with their interests. But at the same time, the more important thing that you're saying is make sure that they're developing spiritually. Right. Absolutely. Those are all things that I think we're called to develop our children.

And certainly I got a great education, tried to give my own kids a great education, involved them in lots of activities. But 3 John 4, John says, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. And so to me, it's what is the first priority? What is the North Star that I'm aiming at? And all these other things we'll add in and we'll have a good time.

But what is that North Star? And we will unfold that over the next half hour. So let's kind of progress through this, though. You addressed the problem of child-centric families. I think I understand where you're going. This would be where parents do almost anything for the sake of their kids. I think the chauffeur mom or dad is probably an example of that. But you told your children, I'll die for you, but I won't live for you.

What did that mean? Every parent, a good parent, will sacrifice for their children. But having said that, I think as we develop them in all these activities, they can get the feeling that they are the center of our universe.

And that's a very heavy weight for a child. They're not called to be the center of the universe. Jesus Christ is the center of the universe. And therefore, he's the one first I live for. And of course, my kids are welcome members of the family.

And yes, we make huge sacrifices. But I want them to know that I'm living for something bigger than them, that my joy is not totally tied up with them. First, I serve the Lord. Then I love my wife. I'm also involved in a church. And yes, along the way, we do some sports things and we do some educational things. But again, so often in parenting, I mean, it's kind of like a dimmer switch.

It's not on or off. You're kind of living in this degree of life. So what are some of the practical things that should alert you that you're creating a child-centric family? I mean, taking them to school is a good thing. So that doesn't fall in that box.

But give us some examples of what, if you were to do a self-assessment, you might go, hmm, okay, I might be creating a child-centric home. Well, let's go back to, did you really have a son who you thought was going to be an NFL quarterback? No, I had two of them. It wasn't a hypothetical form, Chad. Okay, okay. Well, there's only – But they didn't go that direction.

There's only 70 NFL quarterbacks. And so is that, even as I try and develop them, I need to ask, what is the sake of eternity? So in other words, for me, I guess, in that situation, I'm thinking, is this helping them grow and flourish and become a man of God? Or at some point, have we moved from Jesus being the idol, the center, to sports? So I think countercultural things like being committed to a local church, to evaluate those sports events in light of, is this developing them as a person? Every coach is going to ask you for more time, more money, right?

No, it's so true. And I think for the sports dad, that's one thing you got to reel in really quickly and not kind of load the pressure onto your son or daughter that they need to play something. Right. It's a good experience, but if they don't have the interest, they're not doing the wind sprints, right?

Right. So describe a time, and I think we share this in common too, probably many moms and dads. I think it leans toward dads having this experience when you first hold that first born. And lots of emotion run through your mind at that time. I'm not going to be a good enough father too. I don't want to break this little fragile thing and all those thoughts. What was your experience like? I'm getting teared up even as I think about it now.

I can remember May 24th, 1991, like it was yesterday. And I think for dads, it's just this theoretical concept. We're going to have a baby, and then this person shows up, and you're like, she's so helpless, she's so dependent upon us. But I think what struck me as I drove home from the hospital, and I remember breaking down in tears, was combining again, combining my experience of seeing my daughter for the very first time with what I know about the Bible and saying God has not just entrusted a little girl to me. This is a soul that's going to live forever, and I have the ability, privilege, my wife and I have the privilege of influencing her towards the Lord Jesus.

And so I remember crying out on the way home just in tears saying, Lord, show us, show us how to do this. In Matthew, the Great Commission, you've kind of suggested, strongly in the book, that that starts with your parenting. I don't think a lot of people will apply that scripture to your parenting assignment, but I see the analogy.

Explain it further. Well, in Matthew 28, Jesus gives us what's been called the Great Commission, which we're to make disciples of all nations. And churches rightly send people across the oceans and go across the street so that there will be followers of Jesus. But I'm suggesting we also need to go across the dining room table, because when you disciple someone in the church, you get them for maybe a year, maybe two years, but God gives you these little people that you get to influence. And they start imitating you and you get to teach them and shape them for good or for bad.

And, you know, it's quite a privilege. But, yeah, I would suggest that Matthew 28, make disciples, actually applies to us as parents. No, I think it's good and a good way to look at that. As parents, we want our kids to be a good reflection of our values.

I think we tend to lean toward behavioral measures. You know, our kids are telling the truth, they're making their beds, they're doing everything right, they're getting a sticker for the right things. I understand you had an experience with your daughter when she was pretty young, and I think she kind of misinterpreted some things. So what was that story?

Well, you know, you think example is a very powerful teacher, right? So my four-year-old daughter and we're taking her to church and we're singing hymns and reading the Bible. And so one day she's upstairs in her room and I hear her singing Holy, Holy, Holy, the Great Hymn. And I'm like, I'm such a good father.

That's exactly right. You know, you're just like, oh, Lord, you know, I'm like, what's the problem with these other, you know, you just – We're doing it right, honey. All these proud thoughts that come into your head.

But so I wanted, you know, I wanted to sneak up to get a closer view. And sure enough, she's in her bedroom, she's got her mother's high heels on, she's pretending to be on stage, you know. But when I get up there and peer around the corner in her hands, she has fistfuls of play money. And she's not singing Holy, Holy, Holy. She's singing money, money, money. Oh, my goodness. So here's, you know, full-throated worship of money in my little four-year-old, which of course is hilarious in a four-year-old. Right. She didn't understand the concept.

No, no. It was hilarious. And how's she doing today? She's shopping a lot? She loves the Lord.

She still loves to sing. That's good. And she loves the Lord.

No, that's excellent. God has put us into family so that we can learn, you know, important lessons about conflict, forgiveness, and getting along with each other. I mean, I think that's one of the great benefits of family and the structure of family.

That's where you learn who you are and how to relate to others. You've paraphrased a familiar Bible verse. I think it's John 13 in terms of parenting. So explain why that verse means something to you in your parenting journey. Well, Jesus in John 13 on his final night, he says, all men will know you're my disciples if you love one another.

So certainly there's a case, and in my own testimony, a case for apologetics. But the ultimate apologetic is a loving church, brothers and sisters loving each other. And so in a similar way, you know, the church, sorry, the family is a small unit in God's family. And so to see family members loving each other, now that means overcoming conflict. It doesn't mean conflict free. But loving each other, having joy, reflecting the Trinity, that's attractive. That's attractive to our young people who see other families that are broken, and it's attractive to the world. Yeah. You know, the one difficulty, I think, when you're looking at that parenting issue, you know, start there and reflect the character of God. It's hard for human beings to be perfect. Have you noticed?

Only today. I mean, nobody sees that clearer than your spouse and your children, because they're living with you all the time. You know, when you drop the can on your toe and you don't usually go, wow, that was an amazing experience. I wonder why God put me through that. It's not usually our response. But in that context, how do we avoid hypocrisy, you know, so our kids can truly see the Spirit of God in our lives consistently, maybe not 100 percent. And how do we talk to our children about that when we blow it? Well, I think it's understanding that the first place, and the hardest place, but the first place I live out the gospel is in my home. So the way I treat my spouse, the way I treat my children, is really the real me. And so to hold myself to a high standard, to say that I actually need to love them no matter what happens. And then, of course, inevitably we fail, and to be able to confess it to the Lord, to apologize to our kids as well. You use the term Pharisee parenting, which I appreciate.

I mean, that's, you know, knowing the law, knowing the rules, but not having the heart for someone. I think a lot of children growing up in Christian homes can identify with that. They never can be perfect, so they always feel like they're failing at something.

They may be doing well in other things, but if they're not pleasing their parents with certain behavior, bam, they can get the hammer. And so how do you manage that as a parent, not to be the Pharisee parent? Well, I think to me hypocrisy is not saying one thing and doing it in another.

It's saying one thing and doing another and not caring. So as a Pharisee parent, I want to be growing myself, or fighting to be not a Pharisee parent. I want to be growing myself. I want to be able to see my own sin. And then I want to be able to put my arm around them literally or figuratively and say, we're going to defeat this behavior together. So it's not like you're a sinner and I'm not. It's we're both.

I am called to a position of authority, but I'm going to put my arm around you literally or figuratively and say, let's defeat this together. Okay, so, Chap, I'm thinking of parents who, like myself, might have experienced kind of an epiphany of, oh, I am actually a Pharisee parent. And I think the Lord gave us six children because I need a lot of sanctification. So I can't remember which child, but I suddenly realized as I was calling them to this super high standard that when I was their age, I was just like them. And it really caught me by surprise because I thought, well, I was projecting perfection, okay?

I was holding them to a higher standard that I could possibly attain. So talk to the parent who's feeling like, okay, they're touching on something. What do I do? Is it too late?

I don't think it's too late. I think the parenting paradox is we expect them to obey because God commands it. We expect them to disobey because they're children. And so in a similar way, how do I strive and encourage my child to be his best? And I certainly did that with my children, my wife as well, and yet also say we're all going to fail. And home is the place where you can come and you can talk about how you feel like you failed. And we're on your side no matter what. Chap, in the book you mentioned three common myths moms and dads have about discipling their children.

What are they? Well, the first is that the perfect environment will guarantee the perfect result. And we're raising kids.

This is not a cookbook. But going back to your comment, just trying to have the perfect environment, and that's simply not true. Kids come with sin on their hard drive. Yeah, but how do we as parents, I mean, we do believe in formulas, unfortunately. A plus B equals C. But with human beings, I'm sure the Lord, when he created Adam and Eve, had an idea of the way things would go, although he had all knowledge.

So that's a little bit more of a benefit. But, you know, they rebelled against God. And kids are going to do that too, even if you're the most loving parent they could have. You can't control them, and that's the difficulty. And I think parents are prodigals need to hear that.

Yeah. Because children, God gives all of us the ability to choose. And I think what kind of surprises us is when they're young, we are able to control them. But later, as teens, as adults, we cannot nor should not. And so they're making their own choices. And I would say we're not called to be successful, per se, but to be faithful.

And I like the word predictive, because that's what it is. If you do these things and your children learn these things, it's predictive that they'll do well spiritually and every other way in life. What are the other two myths? Well, the other two is that the ultimate goal is to have my kids follow the Lord. And we talked about that a little bit already, but my first priority is my own walk with the Lord. And then my spouse, and then also perhaps serving in the church. So children are welcome members, but they can't control my joy.

My joy is in the Lord, even though there's going to be ups and downs, of course. And then the third myth is that it's all up to me. And then that's not true. I don't believe we would say that as a parent. I don't think that would be maybe so bold, but we do it. And we may not think it. Yeah, we act it. But we act like that, like it's all up to us. Well, and sometimes it's pride I don't want to share with other people in the church what's going on. Or I don't want to say, what did you do in this situation? We're struggling with this right now.

Yeah. I think one of the things, too, is our eagerness as parents to get our kids to the altar to make a profession of faith and do everything correctly, their baptism, et cetera. But you really, as a parent, you have to let your kids emerge in that understanding of their faith. Explain why you believe discipleship is that ongoing process with our children, especially during their teen years when they've got so many cultural influences pulling at them as well.

Well, I think there's a battle for our kids, but I think this is so important. And this is what I don't think is understood. We find it in Scripture. Paul said to Timothy, As for you, Timothy, continue in what you have learned and become convinced of. So Timothy grew up in a home where an unbelieving dad, so hope there for every single mom, but a mother and a grandmother whose faith lived in them. But he seemed to have learned the faith and become convinced.

That fits my own story. And then when I'll teach in seminars, I'll ask, I'll say, If you grew up in a gospel preaching home church, raise your hand and then let me ask you this. How many of you keep it raised if you would say there was another time your faith became your own?

And 98% of the hands stay up. So in that regard as a parent, what you're really doing is creating the right soil, right? Letting that child's heart become obedient to the word of God. And that's an art of parenting so that they don't become against it. They're not set against it through your parenting, but that their hearts are open to what God claims. I think with my boys, I've recognized that.

I mean, for me, the goal was, do they have the basics? Do they understand those things and can they embrace them? And then God's got to do the rest. And I've had those discussions with the boys. They're not always going to make the right decisions. Like you said, John, they're not 50-year-old, well, let's say 60-year-old Christians. They're 19 and 21, and they're going to make decisions of 19 and 21-year-old.

And you've got to be able to do that. But that's part of it is making sure they understand what the Lord's heart would be for them in that situation, that environment. And continuing the conversation as well, realizing that they're still wrestling with their faith. Absolutely.

It's really important. You have talked in the book about this idea of mind-reading your children. I love that. I think I am guilty of that. Let me tell you what you're thinking.

How does it work? Well, part of how do we connect to the heart? We connect to the heart through communication. And we actually don't realize how poor communicators we are sometimes. So some of us over-talk, some of us under-talk. And, yeah, so my kids called me out for reading their minds, which is not giving them time to respond to a question, but telling them I knew exactly what they were thinking. And that was helpful, you know, to say, you're right, you're right, I'm not communicating well.

Yeah. I think, Chap, when you get down to it, the parent that's hearing us describe this maybe isn't feeling like they've done what they need to do with their 12, 14, 17-year-old. And I want to give them something to change tonight when they're with that person, that young person in their home, their child.

What can they do to kind of restart the relationship is probably a way to do it. If you're feeling that much guilt, if the Holy Spirit is really penetrating your heart right now, and you're going, oh, man, I have blown this. I've set all those expectations. I have measured behavior.

I haven't done enough to invest in the heart. I'm critical. And we can all be that way at times.

What can they do differently? Well, you know, the glory of children is their parents. They love us. And they are very forgiving. And if we confess to them, confess to the Lord, and really change, not just manipulatively confess it, but if we really change, there is connection. So my own wife's huge impact on her when her father changed from a high corporate job to start his own business for the sake of the gospel. So they're very forgiving.

So if we can confess that to them and change. In fact, in the book, you mention a parable or a story where you talk about carrying a jar of acid. It's probably a good place to land because it's a powerful story of what to do and what not to do. Well, it goes back to the idea that the first place I live at the gospel is in my home, and the kids shine a floodlight on my soul.

So I want to change no matter what. And the analogy, which is not original for me, I think I got it from the late Dr. David Paulsen, is imagine carrying a cup of acid through a crowded room. Someone bumps into you and you spill acid on the person. And the person says, why did you spill that?

And what do I say? Well, because I got bumped. That's why I spilled the acid. It was the other person's fault. Yeah, it's the other person's fault. But the truth is, the reason I spilled acid is because there's acid in the cup.

And if there had been no acid in the cup when I got bumped, then no acid would have come out. And so Jesus said, out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. When Jesus was reviled, when he was bumped, he did not revile in return. And so I'm responsible for my actions and my reactions, and I can grow in forbearance with others. And so if I see that, that's what God's trying to do, a lot of things. But one of the things is he's trying to very practically make me more mature. Yeah, and, Chap, that's exactly why we wanted to have you on and talk about your book, The Disciple-Making Parent, because what I hear you say in that last comment, always be willing to grow, especially as a parent, because it'll make you a better person and diminish the amount of acid in your cup, hopefully to the point where there isn't any. That's the goal of every Christian, right?

To model what Jesus has done for us. And so if you're in that spot, if you're that parent that you feel like, wow, I may have too much acid in my cup, get ahold of us today and make a gift of any amount. If you can become a monthly sponsor, that's wonderful.

That one-time gift is terrific as well. And it'll be our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry. We'll send a book along to you as that thank you. Get in touch today, donate as you can, and know that we're here for you.

We have lots of great resources, including this book, The Disciple-Making Parent. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, or check the episode notes for all the details. Chap, again, it's been great to have you. Thanks for being with us. My pleasure.

It's a joy. And once again, if there's anything we can do to help you along the journey, just give us a call, 800-232-6459. And let me invite you and your family to visit our headquarters here in Colorado Springs. You can see a broadcast in action maybe and visit our Adventures in Odyssey play area with your kids.

There's always a lot of great outdoor activities here in Colorado as well. And in the meantime, we hope you have a great weekend with your family and friends and with your church family as well. And be sure to join us on Monday for an important conversation with Virginia's Lieutenant Governor, Winsome Sears.

Sometimes I'm getting ready to deliver a speech and I'm starting to get nervous. And you know what, Lord, you sent me and I just have to speak to you. And as long as I speak the truth, then I'll be all right. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. I was shocked when she gave me the divorce papers. I was so done.

I had reached my breaking point. I was desperate for a shred of hope, so I called the Hope Restored team at Focus on the Family. They listened to me and they asked about what was happening in my marriage. They encouraged me and my wife to attend one of their marriage intensives for couples in crisis and they prayed with us. They helped me believe that my marriage could be saved. I agreed to go but was very skeptical that anything could help us.

But the whole environment was so safe and non-judgmental. I felt my heart start to open up as we worked with the counselors. Both of us still have work to do in our marriage, but for the first time in a long time, we have hope again. Focus on the Family's Hope Restored marriage intensive program has helped thousands of couples who thought that their marriage was over. Find out which program is right for you at
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-26 19:54:13 / 2023-03-26 20:06:28 / 12

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