Stronger Families

Discipleship Challenge 2.1: What do I do PERSONALLY?

Paul Gotthardt3 comments676 views

In developing a discipleship strategy, I’ve given two key truths:

  1. You teach what you know; you reproduce who you are.
  2. When discipling others, all Scripture is equally inspired; all Scripture is not equally emphasized.

The first statement addresses the qualification hurdle. Am I really qualified to do this? The second statement addresses the knowledge hurdle. What do I do? Before we move too far past the second statement, I want to give an example of what we’ve done (and will do in the years ahead) in discipling our girls.

A couple of years ago, I sat down and wrote out what I really want my girls to know.  By the time they leave our home, what do I want to deposit in their spiritual account? In some ways this list seems long. However, I tried to think through what is age appropriate, essential to Christianity, and critical to relationship with Christ.

I divided these truths into 3 groups: early, developing, long term. The teachings correspond with their school life: elementary, middle, and high school. It doesn’t mean that I never share the early truths at a later date, or the later truths at an earlier date. It just means that these teachings will be emphasized through specific stages in their lives.

The Early Truths (birth through 5th grade):

  • God is one.
  • God is the Creator.
  • God is trustworthy.
  • God is sovereign.
  • God is always present.
  • God owns everything.
  • God loves you (the Gospel).
  • God will care for your needs.
  • Jesus is God.
  • Jesus is Savior.
  • Jesus is Messiah.
  • Jesus is the Word.
  • The Bible is God’s Word.
  • The Bible is true.
  • The Bible is sufficient/complete.
  • The Bible gives instruction.
  • The Bible provides wisdom.
  • The Bible is living and active.
  • The Bible is holy.
  • The Bible is God-breathed.
  • The inward disciplines study, prayer, fasting, and meditation.
  • The outward disciplines are simplicity, solitude, submission, and service.
  • The corporate disciplines are confession, worship, guidance, and celebration.
  • Be thankful in all things.

I’ve put in foundational truths that are easy to understand and focus on 4 key parts of their spiritual development: (1) Who is God? (2) Who is Jesus? (3) What is the Bible? (4) What are the disciplines? I’ve also formed the concepts in easy to remember statements. This step allows me to remember the truths while teaching Scripture, and it allows the girls to remember the truths as complete statements.

My goal is not to teach them the entire Bible by the time they are 10.  I simply want to focus on key truths that provide a solid foundation for their spiritual journey.

Developing Truths (6th through 8th grade):

As our girls grow up, they are going to struggle with different things.  Peer pressure, major decisions, dating, testing boundaries and authority. While I will continue to point out early truths along the way, I want to emphasize different concepts during this period in their lives.

  • The Bible contains the answers you need.
  • Be careful about the friends you make.
  • You will marry someone you date; date wisely.
  • Pursue wisdom daily.
    • When wrestling with a decision, ask the question, “Is it wise?”
    • Learn to recognize the path of wisdom and foolishness.
    • God has a plan for your life. I will teach about…
      • God’s will.
      • Hearing God.
      • Discerning your passions.
      • Christianity is about relationship.
        • The goal in life is to know God (eternal life).
          • John 17:3
          • John 15:1-10
  • The daily goal is to spend time with God.
    • Spend time hearing from God in Scripture.
    • Spend time talking to God in prayer.
    • Spend time reflecting upon God in meditation.
    • Spend time worshipping God in all things.
    • A disciple is someone who pursues Christ by loving God, uniting with believers, serving the world, and entrusting the Gospel.
    • Telling the truth shows integrity and character.
    • Our habits become our lifestyle, our lifestyle forms our character, our character determines our future.

You can see that the developing truths move more from theory into action. They learned about the disciplines of the faith when they were young. They will incorporate the disciplines for decision-making and growth during this period. You can see that dating becomes a part of the discussion. While it is not our plan for them to start dating during this time, I want to have more intentional conversations about dating before they feel the need to enter any serious relationships. The developing truths are just that—developing. They help transition someone from spiritual information to practical transformation.

Long Term Truths (9th through 12th grade):

  • Following Jesus requires death to self.
  • Following Jesus requires faith.
  • God has gifted you to serve Him.
  • You need Christian community to reach your potential in Christ.
  • Kingdom involvement begins locally and reaches globally.
  • Everything you do reflects upon Christ.
  • As a Christian, you never have the right to be unkind.

There is no doubt that other statements will be added to this list as we progress. However, these three sections represent truths we have taught, are teaching, or will teach in the days ahead.

With each step, the truths get a little deeper and a little more practical. But they also build on each other. I cannot effectively teach that following Jesus requires death to self if they do not understand that God’s loves them, has a plan for them, and they can trust Him. The older they get, the harder the concepts become.

I know that everything can change! I know that my kids are not going to sit under my tutelage each evening as I dispense my glorious wisdom. That’s not practical.  But as we talk, and as we go through life, we’re finding teachable moments to instill these truths. When those moments come, I want to make sure to get the big stuff in. In the next post, I will address the hurdle of time and consistency.

Paul Gotthardt
Is learning to live from the overflow of my relationship with Jesus; Husband, Father, Pastor, Church Planter, Author, UGA grad... football and UFC enthusiast.


    1. I do not have family worship time as defined by some (teaching, singing, etc.). I do a devotional time with the family 2 to 3 times a week (after dinner) that is very informal. We go through the items listed in this post. Under each category, I have about 6 or 7 passages that teach that truth. I have the girls bring their Bibles, we look up the passages together, and we discuss the big concept (what it means, why it’s important, and how it’s applied). I know of some who have success with catechisms, but I feel more comfortable gathering the information that I believe is crucial to a developing relationship with God. Many catechisms teach great basic Christian theology, but they don’t necessarily guide the truths back to relationship. Hope this helps.

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