The truth is, all of us are already discipling the people who look up to us. Whether we like it or not, they are watching what we do, what we say, what we care about and what we spend our money on. These things model more clearly than anything else what our hearts treasure.
When we love something, when we treasure something, when something has completely changed our lives for the better, we can’t stop talking about it.
Don’t believe me? Look at the people whose lives have been changed by a new diet or healthy lifestyle. Think about the people in your life who love their sports teams. Consider travelers who live to see the world and love to encourage others to do the same. These people talk often about these things. Why? They can’t help themselves! They truly believe in what they love and they naturally want to share it with everyone they know.
We also do this as parents.
Our family loves to cross country ski during the winter. As the cold arrives in November, we anticipate the first snow when we can get out on our cross country skis. As parents, we invest time and energy in sharing our love for the sport with our kids. We teach them how to ski and show them the joy of wandering through the snow-covered woods, enjoying the beauty of God’s creation.
The dad who loves Sunday football shares that time with his kids and talks about it often. The mom who loves to go shopping looks forward to the days when she can spend afternoons at the mall together with her daughter.
As humans, we naturally desire to share the things we treasure with the people we love.
So, what about our faith? Do our lives display the reality of how much we treasure Jesus and what he has done in our lives?
It’s all too easy to feel that teaching our kids to know truths about the Bible fulfills our duty as parents or even as youth leaders and pastors. But the reality is that kids are smart. They will see the contradiction when we say that Jesus is the most important part of our life, yet live every day without so much as a mention of him.
The most powerful way we will disciple our teens is not by the words we speak, but by the actions of our lives.
"Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." - 1 John 3:18
When Jesus becomes our heart's treasure, we will naturally share him with those around us. And while the introvert and extrovert may share him differently, he will still be the greatest marker on their lives.
The hard question we must ask ourselves is whether or not the people in our lives see that Jesus is our everything (Philippians 3:7-8). If our lives show our love for fashion, football, fitness or whatever else you really enjoy, but not Jesus, then we need to take an honest look at our hearts and consider how much we are truly treasuring Him.
I’m not saying that we aren’t saved or that our faith depends on what we do. I’m saying perhaps we are struggling to let Jesus become our first love over all our other loves.
As we strive to disciple the people God has put in our lives, then the single greatest thing we can do is spend more time worshiping, treasuring and knowing Jesus.
Because when Jesus is our first love, our passion for him will naturally ooze out of every pore of who we are.
When we treasure Jesus, we can’t help but go to him in prayer often and without shame or embarrassment.
Do our kids see us in prayer often?
Do they hear us pray for them?
Do we pray with them?
When we treasure Jesus, we desire to know him more and more through the Bible (John 17:17).
Do our kids see our love for God’s Word?
Do we talk about it often?
Do we open it up daily?
Do we search its pages for guidance and wisdom?
Do we read the Bible with them?
Do we spend time talking to them about it?
When we treasure Jesus, he will start to turn our hearts away from the false idols that steal our affections (Psalm 42:1-2).
Do our kids see us turning away from sexual sin?
Do they see us fleeing temptation and fighting against sin?
Do they see us unaffected by money, fame or possessions?
When we treasure Jesus, his love will start to overflow into our lives in a love for others (1 John 4:19).
Do our kids see us living for others rather than ourselves?
Do they see us valuing and caring for the people the world has deemed worthless?
Do they see us using our time and treasures to serve others?
Discipling the next generation involves telling the teens the truth of God’s Word, but just as important, it takes walking alongside of them and letting our love for Jesus show them what it looks like to follow him in every area of our lives. There is nothing more contagious than seeing someone's life filled to overflowing by Jesus as their treasure.