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 and prayer and memorizing Scripture.

This month we will look at how Jesus built close relationships with his disciples and earned their trust.

First, let’s look at three ways Jesus built close friendships with his followers. 

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15  (NIV)

“While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.” Mark 2:15 (NIV)

1. Jesus ate with His disciples.

There are numerous accounts throughout the gospels of Jesus eating with His disciples.  It only seems natural because they were spending so much time together.  In fact, they had a special passover meal together, The Last Supper, before His death. Then, before ascending to Heaven, Jesus served a special breakfast to His disciples while equipping Peter (and possibly all of them) for his future calling. (John 21)

Spending time over meals with his disciples was important to Jesus.  In the same way, how can we prioritize eating together as a family when we live in such a busy culture?  As our kids get older, it is easy for them to let school work, activities, screens, and peers take up all of their time.  

We must intentionally preserve a few nights a week to eat dinner as a family and make it a spend time.

This means we must say  “no” to some things that may seem good, but are not God’s best for us in keeping with family togetherness.  Put your dinner nights on the calendar and pray before saying yes to events that would take the place of this special time together. 

 Here are some ideas to make meal time special and fun for your kids: 

  • Lead family devotions over dinner
  • Give your highs and lows of the day or answer some deep questions
  • Play a fun game over dinner
  • Start father/daughter and/or mother/son date nights
  • Take each kid out to eat one-at-a-time to celebrate them individually

Eating a meal together allows for time to discuss the day, talk about struggles at school, encourage your kids, laugh together, and have fun.  When used to foster communication and show love to your kids, dinner together can go a long way in building your relationship with them. 

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” Mark 8:27 (NIV)

2. Jesus spent quality time with his disciples while traveling.  

In the scripture above we see Jesus using one of his many travel times to ask the disciples a deep question, “Who do you say that I am?”  This brought about a great discussion that led to the disciples acknowledging Him as the Son of God.  Jesus used everyday moments when they were on the move from town to town to teach and encourage his disciples.  

Because many of us are ‘Uber Mamas,’ driving our kids to school and after-school activities, we can use this time in the car to really connect with them.  Listen to your kids as they talk about their day and find ways to encourage them through different scenarios they encounter.  I have heard from many seasoned parents the importance of continuing to take your teenagers to activities, even when they are old enough to drive themselves.  This allows you time to connect with your kids and allows them opportunities to open up.  Often it’s the only time your kids have to connect with you all day.  

Other family bonding activities for the car include:

  • Singing together
  • Reading a book/listening to an audio book
  • Playing car games
  • Praying together
  • Memorizing/Reciting Scripture

When we allow our kids unhurried time to open up about their day and we can have fun together in the car, then they will feel loved and accepted, and our relationship with them will grow.  

“Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”  Matthew 15:32 (NIV)

3. Jesus served others with His disciples.  

Jesus was constantly doing ministry with his disciples.  They went everywhere with Him and watched Him heal the sick, raise the dead, and give sight to the blind.  They had a part to play, just as we see in Matthew 15 (see above) when Jesus asked the disciples, after a long day of ministry, to bring the people food.  The disciples had first row seats to see and learn how Jesus ministered to others, a model they would use for the rest of their lives.  In the same way, our children need to have front row seats watching us serve others and feeling a part of it.  This will help prepare them for the ministry to which God has called them in their future.  

Some examples of doing ministry with our kids include the following: 

  • Baking cookies or cooking a meal for someone in need
  • Sorting and donating clothes to give to a clothing charity
  • Purchasing Christmas presents for children in need
  • Hosting a new family for dinner in your home
  • Participating in a monthly outreach as a family

There are many good character traits our children can develop when they serve others, from hospitality to humility and patience.  They get to see first hand God move through themselves and their family as they serve others.  Taking time to prioritize serving with them will be so beneficial to both them and your family.

Our goal as Mommas Like Jesus is to build a close relationship with our kids from the time they are little to the day they are ready to leave home, and this closeness comes through spending time together.  We want to be the first ones they come to when they need a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or someone to share their good news.  The closer our kids feel to us, the more likely they will be influenced by us rather than the world.