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The Cost Of Discipleship At Home: Living Our Priorities

Houser Family

Wow, I am so thankful to have been part of Seeds Family Worship for the past 18 years! Our team is passionate about our mission to get God’s Word into as many hearts and homes as possible around the world. We love helping the Church and families and Sing God’s Word by creating scripture-based worship songs. We also get stoked about teaching parents about creative ways to disciple their children and pass their faith to them. We believe it is the number one calling God has given to every Christian parent. 

Even more important than my background in family ministry, I have been a full-time parent for over 22 years. Do see yourself as a full-time parent? You should…because as all parents know, the job is 24/7 and 365 days a year. Now that 2 of our kids have left home, I don’t know if that means we’re moving toward part-time parenting, but I can tell you that parenting adult children still feels full-time and is a different kind of challenge than parenting kids living at home.

I’d like to introduce you to my family - my greatest proof of parenting… My wife Heidi, Ben (22), Brandon (20) and Abby (17). This is our fun photo. We are musicians, so this was our unsuccessful attempt at a Beatles Abby Road album cover in our hometown in Idaho. So, I’d like to share with you about The Cost of Discipleship in the Home. 

I believe the best way to summarize Discipleship in the home is having the right priorities as parents and living by them. 

The first priority I want to talk about is the Priority of TIME.  

And the best way I know how to illustrate it is to share a page from my own story as a father.

One of the things my wife and I have done as parents is take our kids through a weekend called Passport to Purity. It is a great resource created by Family Life that helps parents talk about puberty, sex, pornography, dating relationships and boundaries for teenagers…and is typically fathers with sons and mothers with daughters whenever possible. 

When I took our middle son Brandon on a Passport weekend it completely changed my priorities as a parent. My wife and I discussed taking Brandon on the  trip in the spring when he was 12. I said I would definitely take him for a weekend during the summer. However, it was a very busy season in ministry and I was traveling a lot leading worship and speaking at events. My wife lovingly reminded me several times over the summer about our trip, but I was unable to make time in my overcrowded schedule. Finally, as school started and summer was turning to fall, my wife reminded me again about our trip…so, I finally moved some things around and planned our trip over Labor Day Weekend. 

One of the cool things about a Passport weekend is you get to plan a fun weekend that your child would enjoy…and my boy Brandon wanted to summit a big mountain. We live in Idaho, so finding an epic mountain to climb was not difficult….but climbing the mountain definitely was! The mountain he chose was called Devil’s Bedstead….which should have been my first clue it would be a wicked climb. We gathered our backpacking gear for a 3-day adventure and headed north to the mountains. We stayed the first night in a cabin, listened to the Passport CD’s (we were old school) and talked about them together. 

At the end of each session I asked my son if there was anything he wanted to talk about or if he was struggling with any of the things we were discussing…he said, “no, Dad, I’m good.” We did additional sessions the next morning at the cabin with the same result - and he again said when I asked how he was doing, he quickly replied, “Dad, I am doing really good.” 

So, we loaded up our Jeep, rolled toward the trailhead and began our ascent. 

We set up camp near a lake that night and planned to make our summit attempt early the next morning. We had a great time talking around the campfire that night and then headed out on our hike as the sun peaked over the beautiful Sawtooth mountain spires. It was a wild day of climbing and we got close to the summit, but decided it was best to turn around before we reached the top. We made our way back to camp and stayed one final night. 

So, we had a great adventure and some incredibly solid father/son time together. I woke up the next morning feeling great about our weekend as I was making my coffee. I was standing by this breath-taking glass lake as Brandon came out from the tent and joined me. Like so many Dad’s I know would do, I was already mentally preparing to head down the mountain - breaking down our equipment and halfway home in my mind. 

As we sat there in the silence, I heard the Lord prompt me in my spirit - “ask him again how he is doing”. 

So, I looked at him sitting a short distance from me at the edge of the lake and said, “Son, this has been such a great weekend spending time with you. I hope you know you can talk to me when you are going through some hard things… So, I want to ask you one more time before we head down the mountain, how are really you doing and is there anything you want to talk to me about?”

I was looking out at the lake as I finished asking him the question, and as I turned back and looked at him, I saw tears running down his face. I put my coffee cup down made my way over the rocks to him and hugged him. He began to cry and I told him he was going to be okay. I assured him it was safe to talk to me and I was here to help. We sat down beside the lake and he shared with me about the weight that had been pressing on his heart. We prayed and came up with a plan to work on it together. 

That weekend I had one of my greatest revelations as a parent.

I realized how short-sighted I was as I went through that summer. As important as ministry and work can be, I realized there were so many other people that could have spoken at events or lead worship events, written songs or fulfilled other roles I had that summer, but there was only one man in the world that could be Brandon’s Dad that weekend - leading to that conversation that he desperately needed to have with his one and only Dad. 

As parents, especially of teenagers, we can’t expect to sit down for 10 minutes and ask them how they are doing… and have them share what is really going on in their hearts. It took a whole weekend of investing time in him, pursuing him and creating trust for him to share what was weighing on his heart…and I almost missed it!

And here’s the other part of the story I didn’t know until much later. He told me he was struggling all weekend and wanted to talk to me but didn’t have the courage to do it. He prayed silently to God before he went to sleep in the tent on our final night,  “God if you wanted me to talk to my Dad, have him ask me one more time how I am doing”. I am so thankful for how God allowed us to have that moment and it really created a bridge for us for our teenage years. 

To disciple our children, we need to pursue them and make it a priority to spend time with them. 

The Priority Of Relationships 

All parents, including leaders, need to make the discipleship of our children our first ministry priority. Again I want to remind you that I believe for those of us with children, it is our greatest ministry calling. The passage we use to highlight relational discipleship of children is Deuteronomy 6:4-7. It is well known to Pastors and those who serve in family ministry.  I encourage every single parent to memorize it. 

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[aYou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

It outlines key priorities for us as parents to disciple our children through relationship:

  1. Your Relationship with God - Love God
  2. Your Relationship with God’s Word - Know His Word 
  3. Your Child’s Discipleship Through Relationship 

This passage highlights that we need to be intentional and have a plan for discipleship. We have a weekly family night- not just spending time together, but spending time together centered around God. We need to be engaged with our children and point them to Jesus as we do life together. As we sit at our house eating meals, as we drive together and when we are going to bed and leaving home in the morning. You will find many examples and creative ideas in our Seeds blog posts and in the many resources we have gathered on our website, but the key for the parents is to engage

We see the discipleship model for parenting in the way Jesus taught his disciples… He discipled them in relationship. There are examples of this all over the gospels…how Jesus would listen to his disciples and then teach them using examples and illustrations. He was intentional and engaged in leading and teaching them.

The Priority Prayer

The final priority I want to talk about is The Priority of Prayer. 

When I am asked by young parents to share what the most important thing we did as parents is to help our kids have their own relationship with the Lord.  I tell them it was praying for our kids. As we look back now we can see mistake after mistake we made and how we fell short in so many areas, but we always prayed. 

We encourage you to pray in every season…to start when you find out you are having your first child. Pray beside their crib and then pray with them sitting on the side of their beds at night. As they become teenagers, pray as you walk through the challenging seasons -  when you don’t know what to do and it feels like everything is falling apart. 

Pray for God to do what only what He can do. 

The beauty of making prayer a priority is that it is something that keeps you connected with your kids as they move into the next season of their lives - and it is something that binds you together as a family. And we were given some incredible advice on prayer when our kids were teenagers from parents ahead of us in their journey…they told us to pray that the Lord let us know what we needed to know about our teenagers. We prayed and we knew a lot. And just like our friends told us, our kids were amazed at times God would clue us in on things that we're going on in their lives. They’d ask: How did we know??? We said, yes, we prayed and God let us know. 

Watching Your Children Drive Away 

Our youngest is a senior in high school and we are making plans for her to be part of Youth With a Mission next fall. It takes my breath away that my little girl is turning 18 in the next couple of months. This is the end of this chapter of our lives. There is no rewind, undo or edit button for any of us. I am not saying these things to fill you with regret. I am saying them to encourage you to pay the cost of discipleship in your home. 

When you are standing where I am right now…literally watching our kids leave our driveway and move into the next season of their story, you will not regret any sacrifices you made to help them have their own relationship with Jesus! I can almost guarantee you will wish you would’ve sacrificed more. 

Just like the lesson I learned that day on the mountain with Brandon, there is only one person that can be your child’s mother or father. Whether it feels like it or not in the noisy, tech-filled battlegrounds of our modern homes, you have been given the most influential voice in your child’s life by God.

So, be encouraged by this passage from 2 Corinthians 15:58

“Therefore my beloved brothers (and sisters), be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

God bless you all and be encouraged to seek God first. Do whatever it takes to create a God-centered culture in your home. You won’t regret it! 

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Matthew Houser

Matthew is a senior in High School and lives with his family in Whitefish, MT. After high school, Matthew is planning to do a Discipleship Training School with Youth With A Mission in Lakeside, MT. Matthew has a passion to mix world missions and business together.

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