In our Mama Heart Like Jesus series we are studying how Jesus discipled His followers as a model for discipling our own children.  

First we looked at how Jesus taught His disciples to know and love God by prioritizing God’s Word, prayer, and memorizing Scripture.

Next we looked at how Jesus built close relationships with his disciples through quality time, words of life, and restoring relationships.

Then we focused on Jesus’ approach to protecting His disciples from evil, teaching them to be in the world but not of the world, and we discussed  protecting our kids from the lies of the enemy.

Last month we discussed how Jesus taught his disciples to be like Him in character through obedience and respect, humility and selflessnessflexiblility and attentiveness, and love and kindness.

This month we will be discussing how Jesus equipped His disciples to show God’s love to others.

Today we will talk about how Jesus gave His followers a sense of purpose.

“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.”  Matthew 4:18-20 (NIV)

1. Jesus gave the disciples a purpose to tell others about Him.

When the disciples heard their purpose, to be fishers of men, they were so excited that they dropped their nets to immediately follow Him. It’s interesting that in Jesus’ first encounter with His disciples, rather than work on their sin issues or build their flawed character, Jesus calls them to a purpose of making disciples.  Oftentimes we think that our children need to be fully mature before God can use them.  We think they have to fully know and understand God’s Word and work through their many character flaws, and then when they are older, God will give them a purpose in His kingdom.   But Jesus shows us a different model.  Our children need to know that they have a God-given purpose to tell others about Jesus, and He wants to use them even when they are two, ten, fifteen, or twenty-five. 

How do we instill this sense of mission in our kids even when they’re young? 

  • Speaking words like, “God has created you to share His love with others!” will help them understand that they have a God-given purpose. 

  • We can get more specific with opportunities our children have to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Here are a few examples.
    “Jesus is calling you to love your brother well.  How can you do that?” 

    “God wants us to give to those in need.  What toys do you want to donate to bless other kids this Christmas?”

    “It sounds like God is putting that new girl at school in your heart.  What might He be calling you to do in order to encourage her?” 

God has wired us to desire a purpose because He HAS a purpose for each of our lives and those of our children.  When our children know from a young age that God has great plans for them, they will find a sense of purpose as followers of Jesus.  God will use their obedience to grow them in character and maturity too.

“After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him,  and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out;  Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.”  Luke 8:1-3 (NIV)

2. Jesus encouraged His followers to use their gifts for God’s glory.

In Luke 8 (above) we see that Jesus used the gifts of his female followers, whether those gifts were sewing, cooking, organizing, or hospitality, to support His ministry.   We also see the disciples furthering the ministry with their talents.  Judas was in charge of the ministry’s finances; perhaps he had experience handling money or had a spiritual gift of generosity before he fell into temptation. Matthew recorded much of Jesus’ ministry on paper using his gift of writing to further the kingdom.  We, likewise, can encourage our kids to see their skills and natural gifts as a way to bring God glory. 

Here are a few examples of how we can encourage our kids.

“You are so good at soccer. Maybe you will use that gift one day to teach kids about Jesus!”

“God has given you a beautiful voice.  Perhaps you should use it for God’s glory by joining the church choir.”

“You are always so hospitable when we invite friends over!  God can use that gift to  make people feel welcome as you show His love to those who enter our home!” 

The more we talk about ways our kids can use their talents and gifts to bring God glory, the more they will realize the numerous possibilities they have to make an eternal difference in people’s lives.

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”  Matthew 16:18  (NIV)

3. Jesus gave His disciples specific callings.

The disciples had a collective purpose in the great commission, but they also had individual callings that Jesus revealed to them.  In Matthew 16:18, Jesus gave Peter a calling to build His church. While that calling did not happen right away, Jesus was preparing Peter for the work he had for him when the timing was right.  Another example of a specific calling is with John the Baptist.  God spoke John’s calling to his father before he was even born. Jesus affirmed that calling by getting baptized by John and calling him the greatest prophet to have ever been born. (Matthew 11:11)  

We can encourage our children to be open to receiving a specific calling from the Lord, whether that’s a career path, ministry, or simple act of obedience.  When we teach our kids to have open, surrendered hearts, they will be ready to receive whatever plans or purposes God has for their lives.

Our kids are each created uniquely special by God, and He can use their gifts and personalities to do great things for His kingdom.  When we call out their skills and spiritual gifts and teach them to live surrendered lives for God’s glory, we are helping them find a sense of purpose as followers of Jesus that will make them want to drop their nets and follow Him too.