one of the questions that came up this weekend at our summer conference was "how do moms disciple others when they have a family?" lots of discussion happened on this with one of the women on the panel and some moms.
first, it is important to realize that discipling your children is your first call to discipleship as a parent. you get the chance to invest in the lives and entrust faithful things to your kids for 18 years! do not discount that!! it is HUGE!!
but secondly, i think many of parents think that discipleship has to happen in some formal setting. thursday mornings at 6:00am at starbucks, for example. this model works for some, but for moms, let's be honest, it is not the best model. your life is crazy and revolves around your little ones and your time alone is already limited, how can you give up more time to invest in the lives of others? also, many moms think they do not have all this knowledge to offer. lies i tell you!
i want to write to moms and dads and encourage them to look at a different way of discipleship. this was how i was invested in at pine cove and my life was changed. if someone wants to be discipled by you, invite them into your home. your real home. not your perfectly, well put totgether, everyone on your best behavior home. but rather your chaotic, maybe not that clean and not everyone is in the best mood home. invite them in to this. this is hard for me, because to have someone over and not have everything together stresses me out. (but that is because to not have it all together exposes some weaknesses of mine). so let me encourage you to get past whatever reason would keep you from having people in your real home and do it.
why you ask? this is important for several reasons and i speak these from my experience. first, this paints a real life picture of a family. if you only have us over when things are perfect or calm, then we begin to think that this is what a good christian home looks like and our expectations of a marriage or parenting quickly become unrealistic. let us see your house as it is normally. let us see your kids not be on their best behavior. let us see you snap at your spouse about something. this shows us that you are real people with real struggles just like us. this also shows us how to deal with this, how to ask for forgiveness. how to love and discipline kids when we don't want to, etc. please let us see your weaknesses too. we need to see real people with weaknesses love jesus because the enemy is always trying to make us think we are disqualified because we do not have it together.
secondly, we would love to see how families live life. we only have one example to build off of, and this our home life. expand our horizons by letting us see how you lead your family and live life. just watching you serve and love your family is a great picture of christ and discipleship. help us learn how to be good spouses and parents.
thirdly, most of us would admit that we desire a family and getting to spend time with a family and your kids, yes even yours, can actually be a fill for us.
so what does this look like? for me, i went a family's house every thursday night. i ate dinner with them and helped their 4 kids study for spelling tests and read. then after they put the kids down, some times i would go home, but some times we would just talk life for a little bit. they would ask me questions and i would ask for advice. or we talk through some thing. there was not always an agenda, but it was intentional and i was gleaning more than they realized. because more than just spiritual wisdom and doctrine, i wanted to learn about life. i learned so much about marriage and raising kids from this family (i love you palella family). and they in turn got some help with their kids. the mom did not have to worry about helping the kids with their homework that night, she could breathe a little or do something else. some times they would also call and ask me to help run errands or do something. it cost me time for sure, but getting to live life alongside them and learn from them was well worth the cost!!
so my encouragement to you is to invite us single folks into your home. don't think we have something better to do. a happy hour with our friends is fun, but it is not helping me grow. we are hungry for some family life anyway. we would love to help you and we would love to learn from you too. please don't paint some unrealistic picture of marriage and family by having it together all the time. please invite us in so that we can see you in action. we know you are not perfect and we do not expect that, just as you don't from us. please help us some day have healthy marriages and families by allowing us to learn from your victories and mistakes. we want to learn about life, not just doctrine. so please, if you see some faithful men/women out there, invite them into your family. if we really want discipleship, we will make the sacrifice, i promise!