Parents are the Primary Discipler

“It’s easy to let the urgent things in life crowd out the important things in life.”

One of the core values in life is that parents are the primary disciplers of their children. I say that this is a value in life, rather than a value in my life because it remains true whether we value it or not. The fact remains that parents have an incredible amount of influence over their children. Even when parents are not active or when they are not present in their children’s lives, they are teaching them many things. They teach them how to parent by their parenting or lack of parenting. They teach them how to interact with their family and their future children through their own passiveness, or their own intentionality. Parents will impart an incredible amount of beliefs, values, and actions whether they do so passively or intentionally. Parents, I implore you to intentionally disciple your children. Here’s what Moses shared with the Israelite parents in Deuteronomy 6: 4-9:

““Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

What are you teaching your children as you sit in your house? What are you teaching your children when you walk by the way? What are you teaching your children when you go to bed each night and when you wake up each morning? You are teaching them something.

Do they see you pray? Do they see you read the Word? Do they hear you talk about scripture? Do they see you make decisions in your household based on the Word? Do they see you serve “the least of these?” Do they see you extend grace and forgiveness to those that do not deserve it? And here’s a very crucial question: do your children see you share the Gospel?

Your day-to-day life is shaping your disciples/children. There are things your children learn through observation, and for many children, this passive learning is all they ever receive about spiritual things. However, most parents actively teach their children many things. They teach them how to walk and how to talk. They teach them how to play ball and how to get dressed. They teach them how to be respectful and how to behave. They teach these things actively through conversations with their children. They don’t only tell them what to do and how to do it, but they also teach them why it is important or valuable.

Many parents have either neglected or refused to actively teach their children about spiritual things. They don’t actively teach their students who God is and what He has done for us. They don’t actively teach their children how to pray to God and how to listen for His voice. They don’t actively teach them how to be a follower of Christ (a disciple). They don’t teach them lessons from the Bible. So many parents have adopted the approach that it is the job of the church to teach them these things. I beg of you parents, do not be that kind of parent.

I used to believe that one of my roles as the “Associate Pastor to Youth and Families” was to teach parents how to be better parents. That belief is long gone. My role isn’t to tell you how to parent; my role is to equip parents with the resources and encouragement they need to step up and be the primary discipler of their own children. I am a discipler and so are many other Christians that invest in and teach your children. But parents, you are their primary discipler. Don’t do this passively when it comes to spiritual matters. Don’t leave spiritual things to the Sunday School teachers and pastors alone. Rise up and embrace this God-given role. F.D. Elliot said:

“Parents can be funny. They can refuse to give a child the keys to the car because they feel he is not mature enough to make the proper decisions imperative to safe driving, but yet they refuse to direct the religious life of the child because they say they should arrive at their own conclusions.”

If you know that God is who He says He is, and if you know that God’s Word is true, then please do not hesitate to point them in the direction of following Christ. I have no desire or intention of shaming any of you parents. Many are never taught this from Scripture, and many are never encouraged to take this step. I’m here to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry,” and this is one responsibility that parents have. If you have been passive about spiritual matters, repent. It doesn’t matter if your children are one, graduating seniors, or grown. You can start now. It can and it will make a difference.


I’ve found a video that articulates how parents are to be their children’s primary discipler far better than I can. It’s a sermon from a pastor that has grown children and can offer many insights that I’m unable to offer. I’d encourage you to watch it and prayerfully ask God to teach you how you are to be the primary discipler of your children.