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.

This month we are looking at how Jesus built close relationships with his disciples, and we discussed ways to spend quality time with our kids

Now let’s look at three ways Jesus spoke words of life to His followers.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 (NIV)

Never in Scripture do we hear of Jesus criticizing His disciples or making them feel worthless, but instead He showed them love and grace in His words and actions.  In fact, he builds his disciples up, telling them the good He saw in them and giving them a purpose in His kingdom.  It worked because all of his disciples, minus Judas, lived out their calling long after He went back to Heaven.  Let’s look at three ways we can be like Jesus and speak words of life to our kids, so they can live out their God-given purposes as well.

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  John 13:1 (NIV)

1. Jesus told the disciples He loved them. 

We see this during the last supper when Jesus told the disciples to love others as He loves them. John also referred to himself as “the disciple Jesus loved” four different times in the Gospel of John.  It must have been so special to Him that it became part of his identity!  It may feel redundant to tell our kids we love them over and over again, but our kids need to hear these three special words more than any other words from us throughout their day.  Whether it’s telling them first thing in the morning before they start their day, slipping a note in their lunch box, or saying “I love you” when you tuck them in bed, our children need to be reminded of this important truth. 

The enemy whispers lies to try to make them feel unloved, so it’s always a good reminder to hear the truth that they are indeed loved by us. When our kids know they are loved, they will feel secure in their relationship with us. 

“When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”  John 1:47 (NIV)

2. Jesus called out positive traits in His disciples.

We see this when He calls Nathanael to be a disciple in the above Scripture.  The very first thing He says to Nathanael is that he is a man of integrity (an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.)  Because Jesus knew Nathaneal’s heart, He could have called out negative traits He saw in him, but He chose to speak out the positive.  In the same way, it is good for us to call out the good character and gifts we see in our kids.  Letting them know when you see spiritual gifts like compassion, joy, and faithfulness will only reinforce these traits.  Also, share with them the natural gifts you see, such as art, sports, and musical talents.  Let them know how they can use these gifts for God’s glory. 

“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 called out the disciples’ true identity and purpose.

The disciples may have needed correction or a rebuke from time to time, but Jesus was always leading them to the person He saw in them, the person they would become, not who they were in all their failures and annoying traits. For example, we can tell that Simon Peter was a bold disciple that often spoke out of line. He even cut off a soldier’s ear with his sword and denied Jesus three times. Yet, Jesus saw past the negative traits in Simon and gave him a new name and identity, calling Him Peter, the rock on which He would build His church. (John 1:42)  

Like Jesus, we can speak out about our children’s God-given identity by leading our kids to the person God created them to be rather than defining them by their current failures or annoying traits.   Instead of calling out their flaws with words like “he’s too hyper,” “she’s so shy,” or “he is really unorganized,”  we can say words like, “I know you can sit still with God’s help.” and “I know you can be brave to talk to your friends.”  When we call out our children’s strengths and look past their weaknesses, believing they will become the person God has called them to be, they will be more apt to live up to that potential.

Speaking words of life is truely life-giving for our children.  It is an offensive way to fight off the enemy’s lies in their lives.  As we pray and ask God what gifts He has given our kids and how we can show them love, God will give us life giving words to speak over them.  The more our children hear us speaking out truth and love, the more they will be strengthened to live the life to which God has called them.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1 (NIV)