The first change we have to make in our thinking when we embark on discipleship learning is that we are teaching and training the whole child not just the mind. We need to be teaching and training the intellectual, the emotional, the social, the moral, the spiritual and the physical. As Christians God’s word has something to say about each of those aspects of our being and we can direct our children in those ways.
This means that we cannot spend all our days addressing the intellectual – the traditional school stuff – we have to make time in our day for other things as well. For us to have this perspective we have to give as much value to emotional health, or spiritual growth, or social skills as we do math, history and science.
It also means that we have to be as intentional in planning what to teach our children in all these areas, not just the academics. It is easy to plan a year of academics for our kids – there are so many resources that outline what to teach or even provide the lessons themselves. There is certainly less material available to guide you in these other areas such as emotional health, social skills, moral convictions, spiritual beliefs and physical well being and practical skills. The first resource we have in these areas is our own life. Our life becomes the teacher.
This is may be a scary thought because we know, when we are honest with ourselves, that we have a way to go in many of the things we want our children to excel in. One such area for me was the issue of orderliness. Orderliness is high on our list for our kids, and yet I am not very orderly, I have to work really hard at maintaining order and more often than not I let things slide. How are my kids going to learn to keep an orderly desk when my desk is a mess? How are they going to learn to keep a tidy bedroom, when my room has piles of things for me to get to one day? This is a good example of how we learn with our kids. As we learn about orderliness, about routines, about a place for everything and everything in its place, I learn too. I practice with them, I fail, I correct myself, I try again.
Being a mentor in every area of life requires more honesty than excellence. My kids see my failings and I do more for their training in being honest than not addressing those issues at all, or waiting till I find success in my own life. Discipling our children’s whole life means being involved, being an example on how to live life, how to learn, how to change, how to grow and how to trust God.