Make Disciples of Your Children
1 Jesus commanded his followers: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, . . . teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) There is no work more vital. It involves teaching persons so that they will come to know Jehovah and love and serve him from their hearts. Parents have an added responsibility to make disciples of their children as well.—Eph. 6:4.
2 Making disciples of children involves many things. One of the most important of these is to have a regular family Bible study each week. When studying with an interested person, we give thought to his personality and any attitude that may hinder his spiritual growth. We draw him out and carefully listen to his response, so we will know what spiritual encouragement he needs. Concerned parents will give even more thoughtful attention to the thinking and attitudes of their children.
3 Parents should be alert to detect any evidence of a drifting away to the world. If, as adult Christians, we have to be alert to this danger ourselves, how much more do we need to be sure our children progress spiritually. When children fail to comment at meetings or always read a simple answer from the paragraph, they need parental help. During your family study have them select paragraphs to comment on and help them prepare the answer in their own words. By using leading questions, help them to reason on Scriptural matters. Impress upon them Jehovah’s goodness and love and their accountability to him in all things.—Prov. 1:7.
4 Each day, a child is confronted with new ideas at school both during classes and in association with fellow students. Not all of these are wholesome. Because of lack of experience, children may accept false values, and gradually the spirit of the world may begin to erode the spiritual foundation the parent is trying to build. Each day, parents are confronted with the task of finding out what has been planted in their children’s minds, uprooting what is wrong and replacing it with the wholesome truths found in God’s Word. This requires much careful thought and constant attention on the part of the parents if they are going to make disciples of their children.—2 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:10-18; 1 Pet. 5:8.
5 Now that your children are back to school, have you equipped them with the spiritual armor that they need in order to “quench all the wicked one’s burning missiles”? (Eph. 6:16) Do they understand basic issues they may face, such as Christian neutrality, flag salute, holidays and evolution, clearly enough so that they can logically explain them to others? As they grow older, are you equipping them to make the right decisions regarding bad associations, dating, drugs and sexual immorality? It will not be easy, but by diligent effort you can succeed in helping them to grow spiritually throughout their school years.—Phil. 4:13.
6 In the early years, put before your children theocratic goals —regular pioneering, Bethel service or missionary work. Encourage your children to auxiliary pioneer during school vacations. How happy Hannah was to receive many blessings from Jehovah as a result of giving her firstborn to Jehovah’s service. (1 Sam. 2:18-21) Today many theocratic parents rejoice in having one or more of their children serving faithfully in some branch of full-time service. They know this serves as a protection for their children, as well as for the vindication of Jehovah’s name. Jehovah richly blesses those who serve him wholeheartedly. (Prov. 10:22) How wise are all parents who encourage their children to apply Jesus’ counsel to put Kingdom interests first.—Matt. 6:33.
7 One of the best ways to train a child is by example. Words without corresponding action have little lasting effect upon a child. Parents are the prime example a youngster imitates. When you encourage him to put Kingdom interests first, if he is to be properly motivated, you must reflect this in your actions. If the child is encouraged to pioneer, then his parents should take the field ministry seriously, doing as much as they reasonably can, auxiliary pioneering from time to time if possible. There cannot be two standards of conduct and speech, one for the Kingdom Hall and another for the home.
8 Family study should be taken seriously and never allowed to become a hit-or-miss affair, studying together only when nothing else comes up. Those parents who work hard to set a fine example themselves and make disciples of their children accordingly can rejoice as they see them grow in love for Jehovah’s organization.
9 Raising a family in the truth is a real challenge for parents in these last days. Truly these are “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5) We recognize that the world is trying to squeeze our children into its mold. We know that those conforming to it will be cast off by Jehovah. (Rom. 1:28-32) How vital then that we exert ourselves vigorously to make disciples of our children even as we work hard to help our neighbors lay hold on the prize of the “life now and that which is to come”!—1 Tim. 4:8b.