A follower of Jesus will love and value children. Therefore, part of the process of making a disciple should include guidance on how to relate with children just as Jesus instructed his own disciples. The familiar story reads:
People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18: 15-17
Jesus understood that his disciples’ attitude toward children revealed their concept of God, their values, and their perceived role in God’s kingdom.
Most discipling approaches, equipping classes, small groups, men’s groups, and women’s groups do not incorporate instruction on how to build relationships with children. After being involved in disciple-making ministry for 30 years I am convinced that a comprehensive approach to discipling men and women must include their relationship with their sons and daughters. Even for singles learning how to properly relate to children is an important component of their spiritual development.
- Observe your disciple with his or her children.
- Observe your disciple among children other than his or her own. Does he ignore them? Is he afraid of them or uncomfortable with them? Are children uncomfortable with him? Do they irritate him? Are children drawn to him?
- Create opportunities to be involved with the children of those you are discipling.