The Difference Between Parenting and Making Disciples
The idea of parenting has created a multi-zillion dollar industry. A Google search reveals that the term “parenting” was first used in 1959. Since then scores of books have been written about techniques and approaches to successfully navigate the choppy waters of raising children. From Dr. Spock to Dr. Phil, these “experts” share their personal approaches to parenting.
Some parenting books are helpful to parents who may be dealing with medical conditions and other issues that are beyond their control. However many parenting books address problems that are simply the result of parents not following the discipleship approach of Jesus.
Countless hours are spent by parents blogging, reading blogs, reading books and looking for help from other parents. Parents look for solutions on television, in conferences and in support groups.
But Jesus showed us how to make disciples more than 1500 years before the word “parent” was invented by secular society. He adopted twelve men who became family members and lived with them 24 x 7 for over three years. The approach He used in making disciples employed a command given by God to parents and grandparents over 2600 years ago in Deuteronomy 6. He taught them in the morning, while they traveled, when they sat down, and when they retired at night. He personally taught his family many times each day. He developed deep, heart level relationships with His adopted family. He showed them how to live and how minister to others. He protected His family members from wolves. Then He commanded parents to do the same; to make disciples.
Somewhere along the way parents stopped following Jesus and started following worldly practices. These practices have produced complex problems in families that keep parents wringing their hands while looking for solutions. Here are some differences between parenting and making disciples:
- Parenting is about methods, while discipleship is about a lifestyle.
- Parenting is part-time, while discipleship is full-time.
- Parenting is about rules, while discipleship is about relationships.
- Parenting employs control, while discipleship employs influence.
- Parenting is about behavior modification, while discipleship is about dealing with heart motives.
- Parenting addresses the symptoms, while discipleship addresses the disease.
- Parenting is focused on the child and parent, while discipleship is focused on Jesus.
- Parenting is reactive, while discipleship is proactive.
- The goals of parenting are secular, while the goals of discipleship are spiritual.
- Parenting is concerned with behavior, while discipleship is concerned with character.
- The fruit of parenting is temporal, while the fruit of discipleship is eternal.
- Parenting is for a season, while discipleship is for a lifetime.
- Parenting is complex, while discipleship is simple.
- Parenting deals with teen rebellion, while discipleship precludes teen rebellion.
- Parenting delegates, while discipleship assumes responsibility.
- Parenting requires little time, while discipleship requires all of your time.
- Parenting takes a village, while discipleship takes a shepherd.
- Parenting is easier in the beginning, but much harder in the end. Discipleship is harder in the beginning but much easier in the end.
- Parenting entrusts, while discipleship protects.
- Parenting is losing 75% to 94% from the church, while discipleship is losing less than 10% from the church.
Parenting is the overly complex job of raising children which is required when you do not follow Jesus in the way He made disciples.
Alan Melton is the founder of Disciple Like Jesus ministry and co-author of "Disciple Like Jesus For Parents." The ministry encourages parents and grandparents to disciple their children in the same manner that Jesus made disciples. His articles have been featured in numerous publications, and he speaks at churches, associations and conferences. Alan has served the Lord as a church planter, pastor-elder, deacon chairman and business owner. He led Evangelism Explosion and FAITH evangelism training ministries for 10 years and juvenile delinquent ministries for 16 years. Married to Donna since 1977, he has two children, Jennifer and Ryan.