Stronger Families

Discipleship Challenges 3 and 4: Time and Consistency

Paul Gotthardt3 comments666 views

In developing a discipleship strategy, I started with 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.

We’ve addressed the qualification hurdle and the knowledge hurdle in the previous 3 posts. Now, we’re going to focus on the time and consistency hurdle.

  • Time—when do I do it?
  • Consistency—how can I do this regularly?

Key principle for addressing these two hurdles: Your discipleship plan needs to be multi-faceted.

The approach mentioned in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is not discipleship via family devotion time. There’s nothing wrong with having family devotions. We try to have them several times a week. That’s good. There needs to be some time that a family can focus on the study of God’s Word. However, as life gets busier—it can be difficult to keep a nightly devotional time.

The approach described in Deuteronomy 6 is one that happens throughout the day.  You can disciple your kids as you’re hanging out, traveling, getting up in the morning, and going to bed. You can disciple your kids through TV programs. When someone says something or acts in a way that dishonors God—use that as a teachable moment. You can disciple your kids through news articles, giving an allowance, doing yard work, cleaning a room, eating a great meal, enjoying a family game, etc. Life gives you opportunities to talk about God and His Word. The idea is to keep the truths from the previous post in front of your kids. The more teachable moments you recognize, the more effective you will be in discipleship.

If everything hinges on you sitting down and doing a nightly family devotion, you are in trouble. You will feel defeated if you miss a night. There are times when you’re too mentally exhausted to do anything. There will be demands for your time (i.e. ball practices, dance rehearsals, homework, friends coming over, working late, etc.). Every child does not learn in structured environments. Every parent does not feel comfortable teaching the Bible in that format. However, if you develop a multi-faceted plan (that includes but is not limited to family devotions)—it gives you freedom to adjust with the craziness.

You might not be able to have a devotional time every day, but you can talk in the car to your kids.  You can chat over a meal. You can share a big truth before they go to bed? You can speak of God’s provision while going grocery shopping. You can talk about God as Creator while hiking in nature. You can share that God owns everything each time you give your kids an allowance. You can find some nights to do a family devotion. The more points you have to connect, the more effective you will be.

Finally, a discipleship plan should have the end in mind. In the first several verses of Deuteronomy 6, Moses tells the people that God has given these commands so that when they enter the land, (1) they will teach them generationally, (2) they will fear God, and (3) they will keep His commandments all the days of their lives.

All of what Moses taught was to produce specific results in the end. God’s plan was simple. Down the road, when you enter the land—you will be prepared to inhabit it the right way.

How does that apply to us? As parents, we need to ask a major question. Who do you want you kids to be and what do you want your kids to know by the time they leave your home? Write it out on a sheet of paper, and plan backwards.

If you want your kids to know God, His Word, and His desire for their lives at 18—you need to start teaching those truths from childhood. It’s never too early to teach your kids about God. If you want your kids to respect others when they go to school, you cannot begin in Kindergarten. You must begin as a little child. As a baby, your child is learning to recognize authority and play well with others. A huge mistake parents make is waiting until there’s a problem before attempting to teach their values. That’s too late. Plan backwards. Start early. Teach often. Repeat yourself. And do not apologize for being their parent.

God has given you the position, the responsibility, and the instructions for discipleship. Remember these key truths. When you’re developing a discipleship plan for your family, it should be personal, focused, multi-faceted, and with the end in mind. Ask the big questions now. Who do you want your child to be and what you want them to know by the time they leave your home? Now…plan backwards.

Will our children always do what we’ve hoped? Of course not! Our job is to train as best we can, while we can, depending upon God, and remaining in prayer. One day, they will be on their own. Don’t wait until their about to leave to prepare them for the future. Give them the best possible opportunity for success. Start now!!!

If you have any questions about these posts, write them in the comments section. I will respond to them as soon as I can. I hope these principles will assist you as you disciple your family.

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. Are you looking for another idea for a book? 🙂 I would absolutely love a whole book revolving around this blog post and the precious one. I want to work backwards! I want to incorporate the same learning lessons during those 3 time periods in my child’s life. I want to use day to day for my teaching moments! But I’m struggling with what that actually looks like… Real examples. When my daughter is being super selfish and greedy, I try to stress that its not all about her, that we are super blessed. And I try to figure out a great way to tell her that isn’t how God would want us to behave (but I really don’t want to incorporate legalism or earning his love).
    You know how everyone says that these kids don’t come with manuals? Well.. The last two posts look like the Table of Contents to that manual… Now I’m wondering if there is the possibility of an actual manual!? Write it fast… our kiddo is growing up fast!! 🙂

    1. Oh Lisa…you’re funny. 🙂 All kidding aside, I am currently writing two books on the subject. The first is a 7 to 8 week discipleship curriculum for parents. We are supposed to do the first pilot group this spring. The second is a book on the legacy you want to leave (transferring our faith, life principles, and values to our kids). As sections and chapters are completed, maybe I could send them to you for perspective (did it address key concerns, etc.). Let me know if you’re interested.

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