Intentional discipling requires a plan. I’ve defined what I mean by using the term discipling and given the reasons why I’ve personally found it essential. Now let’s look at discipling in action, remembering that like love, it’s a verb.
Ideally, we begin on the day they’re born. However, I know that life isn’t always ideal. So wherever you are in life right now, however old your daughter(s) might be, it’s not too late. The Lord will take your efforts and multiply them if you just take the first steps in faith. I believe in the truth of Romans 8:28. Whatever the past circumstances, His mercy is new today. So begin where you are and God will meet you there.
5 Action Steps to Begin Discipling our Daughters
I know that some don’t consider prayer to be action, but it does make a difference. I’ve seen it in my own life. Praying is simply talking to God, giving Him our concerns, and asking for guidance as we tackle the important responsibility of conveying His word and His love to our daughters. Do you have any relationships that don’t require conversation? It’s no different with our Heavenly Father. I believe this is actually the first step in any action plan.
2. You must know their hearts to win their hearts.
This is a key difference between discipling and evangelizing. Evangelizing can be done with anyone, anywhere, any time. It simply requires a willingness to talk about Jesus. Discipling requires relationship. There’s that word again: relationship. One on one time with your daughters is the heart of discipling. Jesus knows each of us thoroughly. He ministered to people on a personal level while He was here on earth. We must know our daughters that way and value them as individuals. How can we guide them in becoming the women God intends them to be if we don’t appreciate and recognize their own free will, talents, strengths, and even their weaknesses?
One of my favorite parenting quotes to live by comes from Josh McDowell:
“Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.”
Spending quality time together talking, sharing fun activities, and reading together are all things I like to do with my own daughters. This can be done from an early age. My girls are 13, 8, and 6. I have already learned so much about their personalities and what makes them tick just by spending time with them. It’s not an intrusive third degree, but rather a chance to just talk naturally about what is on their hearts. Of course, homeschooling makes a big difference in this as well. We spend far more time together than if they were in public school and we avoid the negative influences that I experienced in my own public school years. I believe that a lot of teenage angst and rebellion can be avoided by starting intentional discipling at an earlier age, too. I call it attachment parenting when they’re babies, but it amounts to much the same thing as they grow.
3. Be the example you want them to follow.
If you aren’t spending time in prayer and reading your Bible, how can you teach your daughters to do the same? It’s important to practice what we preach. If we want them to be patient, gentle, kind, and generous, then we must exhibit those qualities for them to see. I’ll be the first to admit it’s not always easy. When my preschooler is pressing my buttons and it’s been a long day, I have to choose to respond with loving kindness rather than exasperation. It’s always a work in progress! I also like to read stories of faithful women in the Bible and women of strong character and faith from history and recent times so my daughters have other positive examples to follow. It isn’t easy to find good role models in today’s world, but it can be done.
4. Beware the pitfalls of legalism.
In regard to all that is wrong with our sexist culture today, the list could go on and on. However, we’re told in Scripture to focus on the good and pure (Phil. 4:8). If I get mired in all that there is to overcome, I get depressed. When I consider the One Who has overcome it all, I feel hopeful. Since everyone has free will, not everyone will agree with our standards of modesty and purity. I need to show my daughters that we can love others even when we don’t agree. The world will know us by our love (John 13:35). It does not mean lowering our standards or accepting what is wrong. It means being lights for others to see that we have something different, something worthwhile.
5. Emphasize the fruit of the Spirit.
I’ve found that focusing on the fruit of the Spirit, the gifts that we have in our life when we’re invested in a personal relationship with Jesus, is a great place to begin with discipleship. I think it’s more essential to emphasize what is right than what is wrong when you’re starting out with little ones especially. These character traits can be found in Galatians 5:22 ~
By learning what is right, it will be easy for our daughters to see what is wrong in contrast.
This is not a be all and end all list of ideas. It’s also not a guarantee of success. It is simply a place to start and to be aware of the lessons we’re passing on to our daughters.
To read all 5 days in the series, visit the Discipling our Daughters page.