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.

We talked about how Jesus gave His followers a sense of purpose and my guest blogger, Beth Meverden, shared with us ways to encourage our children to bear fruit in order to share God’s love with others.  

This week we will look at how Jesus modeled ministry with His disciples as a way to teach them to share God’s love with others.

“And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people”  (Matthew 4:23)

When my daughter was twelve-years-old she started serving on our preschool worship team at church. One day I let her lead the large group lesson with our preschoolers.  I was absolutely amazed by how well she did on her first try!  I noticed her teacher-like intonation with the kids, how she kept them engaged throughout the lesson, and how she naturally spoke at their level without me even telling her to do so.  Then it hit me.  She had been watching ME teach the preschoolers since she was a preschooler herself!  I didn’t need to teach her anything- she had been learning all along just by watching me.

One of the best ways to help our kids learn to serve and show God’s love to others is to model it ourselves.  We see this modeled through Jesus and His disciples as they followed Him for the three years of His ministry.  They must have learned so much by watching Jesus in action, observing how he looked at people with love, started conversations with strangers, brought God into conversations, and found ways to meet people’s needs.  Let’s look at three specific ways Jesus modeled sharing His love with others for His disciples.

Three Ways Jesus Modeled Ministry

Jesus answered, “What I’m about to tell you is true. The Son can do nothing by himself. He can do only what he sees his Father doing. What the Father does, the Son also does.” John 5:19 (NIV)

1. Jesus modeled a dependence on His Father for His ministry.

Many times in Scripture we see Jesus going to a quiet place to spend time with God in prayer because He needed that one-on-one time with His Father.  In John 5 (see above) Jesus explains that He only does what the Father tells Him to do.  What a model of dependence on God! Demonstrating this dependence on His Father was SO important for His disciples to see because they would need God just as much as He did in their ministry. 

If the disciples thought they could minister like Jesus in their own strength, they would be in for a rude awakening because it would not be possible or sustainable. They would become tired, frustrated, and may even give up.   In the same way, if our kids think they can share God’s love in their own strength, they will grow tired and weary as well, and they may even get burned out of church or ministry.  They may be serving others for the wrong reason, like trying to look good to others or earn God’s favor.  Only through a dependence on God’s Spirit working through them will they learn how to truly minister in the strength of the Lord and with the right heart.  

Here are some examples of how to model a dependence on God with your children:

  • Let your kids see you spending time with God by reading His Word and praying each day.
  • When you are tired and don’t feel like serving others, instead of keeping it to yourself, ask for the Lord’s strength in front of your kids.
  • After serving others, praise God for giving you the help and strength to share His love.

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners? On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Matthew 9:10-12

2. Jesus modeled loving those different from Him.

Jesus was well known throughout the gospels for hanging around people most Jews would not want to be associated with.  Whether they were tax collectors, Samaritans, or lepers, Jesus was not afraid to treat everyone as a precious child of God.  We may not feel like we treat those who seem different from us in a negative way, but do we go out of our way to talk to them and love them as Jesus would?  Or do we say a little prayer for them but keep our distance?  The more we step out of our comfort zone and get to know different kinds of people, the more our kids will be comfortable doing so as well.  

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Serve at a homeless ministry and get to know those who are displaced. We often have preconceived ideas about the homeless, but many times they have heart-felt  stories to share about their trials and perseverance going through them. We can also gain empathy for those who struggle with mental illness or addiction.

  • Get to know a family who has a different cultural or religious background.  Ask questions and learn how they view the world, and hopefully you will get an opportunity to share about your faith as well!

  • Go on a mission trip to a different country as a family.  It’s beautiful to learn how others around the world live and how they perceive life in similar and different ways than we do.  Doing these types of trips will help our children appreciate what they have and gain more compassion for those in need around the world.

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” Matthew 4:23 (NIV)

3. Jesus modeled sharing the hope of salvation with others.

Jesus didn’t just have good conversations with people or only heal them physically.  He was intentional to lead everyone towards Him and His Father.  His last words to His disciples were to go and make more disciples, telling others about His great love and salvation.  As believers we have a responsibility for the great commission, too.  While sharing God’s love through acts of kindness is good, we are also called to share the hope of Jesus through the gospel.  This may seem difficult for many of us, but God will give us the strength to be bold witnesses as we take steps of faith and obedience, modeling for our children what it looks like to share the gospel with others.

A friend of mine recently shared a great sermon by Jason Shepperd from Church Project about following Jesus’ example of sharing the Good News with people you meet.  Here are the three steps he finds Jesus doing in the gospels:

  • Start meaningful conversations with others.  
  • Bring God into the conversation in some way. 
  • If they seem open to talking about God, share the gospel.

This process can be done in one setting when possible, but it can also work well with people you are building a relationship with over time. Asking people how you can pray for them is another great way to see how open they are about discussing faith. Most importantly, pray for God to make a way for the conversations to turn to Him and give you the boldness to share His good news with others.

The disciples had the privilege of watching first hand how Jesus ministered to people and shared His love with them.  Our kids will be so much more equipped to share His love if they see us modeling it in our lives, whether it’s asking to pray for a store clerk, donating food and clothing to those in need, or sharing the gospel with an unbeliever.  If we want our kids to be mission-minded, we need to be so ourselves and model it for them.  There is no better way for them to catch the excitement of serving the Lord than by learning from our example.