The Disciplemaking Dad

This morning I read 1 Chronicles 27. For the most part, it's a pretty boring list of names of dead guys. (Just keeping it real people.) However, near the end of the chapter, I read something that really piqued my interest. (Or perhaps that's just when my coffee kicked in?) In a list of people who worked for King David, I read this little tidbit: 
"Jehiel son of Hacmoni took care of the king's sons."  —1 Chronicles 27:32b
Hmmm. So David farmed out his responsibilities of fathering his sons to another guy?
Frankly, I don’t know to what extent David abdicated his fatherly responsibilities to Jehiel instead of being with his children himself—but David's fatherly neglect seems to be significant in the Bible (1 Kings 1:6). This certainly helps explain some of the reasons for the crazy family life David had (see 2 Samuel 13-19 for specific Davidic family train wrecks).  In spite of all his success as a king, it seems David wasn't a Deuteronomy 6 disciplemaking dad.
A Look Into the Mirror of Fatherhood
But before we throw David under the bus, perhaps we'd better take a good look at the dad in the mirror.  Are you a disciplemaking dad, or are you simply hoping the "Jehiels" of our culture—school teachers, pastors, Sunday school teachers, youth workers, coaches, etc,—will do the job of disciplemaking for you? Those people have important roles (and I've served in each of those roles throughout my life), but they can't replace dad.
Dad, when are you going to embrace your identity and God-given responsibility as a disciplemaker of your kids? It's time we call fatherhood what it really is: disciplemaking.
A Very Interesting Juxtaposition
In Ephesians 6:4, we read, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children [to irritate intensely to the point of anger]; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."  It's very interesting to me that Paul juxtaposes not provoking our kids to anger with proactively training them. Think about that contrast.  One of the major ways we as fathers provoke our kids to anger and resentment is by not intentionally discipling them ourselves.  In this respect, we are a lot like David... aren't we?
"But," you're thinking, "I don't know how to disciple my kids?" Welcome to the club. Now, that we've all acknowledged our lack of experience and incompetence, the question remains: Will you join the rest of us clueless dads in the adventure of figuring out how Deuteronomy 6:4-9 applies to your life as a disciplemaking dad?
A Deuteronomy 6 Disciplemaking Dad
Since before the time of Jesus, Jews have recited Deuteronomy 6:4-9 every morning and evening.  This portion (along with two other selected portions) of Scripture is called the Shema.  Interestingly, when Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest commandment of all the commands, he quoted a portion of the Shema—Deuteronomy 6:5.  I’d say that makes Deuteronomy 6 worth looking into!
5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”—Deuteronomy 6:5-9
Ponder verse 7 for a moment. Can you think of a single moment in any given day when you're not doing one of these: sitting, walking, lying down or getting up? Me neither.

What's the point?

A Deuteronomy 6 disciplemaking dad doesn't simply lead a family devotional ti
me or drive the kids to church. The Deuteronomy 6 disciplemaking dad is actively engaged in discipling his kids through the whole of life as it unfolds... talking about God and his commands when he sits at home, when he's driving in the car, at night when everyone is going to bed, and in the morning when everyone gets up. The disciplemaking classroom is not a classroom at all... it's the art and skill of bringing the Bible and the life of Jesus into the ebb and flow of ALL of life.
No Perfect Dads Allowed
Great news dad.  You don’t have to be perfect to be a Deuteronomy 6 disciplemaking dad.  You do have to be present AND engaged though.  More good news—and my own personal testimony: You can fail often and still be a disciplemaking dad IF you confess your sins to God and your kids when you fail them... receive forgiveness... and start anew on the path of becoming a Deuteronomy 6 disciplemaking dad.  Your family doesn’t expect you to be perfect (they live with you... they already know you’re not perfect).  They do expect you to be honest.  Admitting you’ve got room for growth keeps everything real.  It also keeps you humble and dependent upon God—and that sounds a like a disciplemaking dad to me.
Does all this sound like too much work?  Let's keep it real: Being a Deuteronomy 6 disciplemaking dad IS a lot of work. The truth is there are no shortcuts.  And here's some truth you won't read very often in Christian parenting books: There are no guarantees that your kids will grow up to love and follow Jesus—even if you are a disciplemaking dad!  But it’s still the right way to live. Make no mistake about it: God wants you to be a Deuteronomy 6 disciplemaking dad.
A Wake-Up-and-Smell-the-Coffee Moment
Here's a wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee moment for dads: In order to make disciples of your kids, you're going to have to BE a disciple of Jesus first. This is why Deuteronomy 6:6 says that the commands of God are to be on OUR hearts FIRST... and then verse 7 says we can impress them on our children.  You can’t give away that which you don’t possess.  You have to be a disciple of Jesus if you want to make disciples of Jesus.

But where can you start your adventure as a disciplemaking dad? 

Here are two practical and biblical resources to get you started: 1) The Disciplemaking Genius of Jesus book, and 2) The Disciplemaker's Living Guide. What are you waiting for?

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