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We all disciple our kids to something

Last week’s blogs on parenting may have been a wakeup call to some. This is a follow-up.Konrad Lorenz was a psychologist who discovered the principle of imprinting by watching geese. He noticed that little goslings imitated the first thing they saw. When the first thing they saw was him and not t…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Last week’s blogs on parenting may have been a wakeup call to some. This is a follow-up.

Konrad Lorenz was a psychologist who discovered the principle of imprinting by watching geese. He noticed that little goslings imitated the first thing they saw. When the first thing they saw was him and not their mother goose, they followed him around in a single file line and did what he did.

Human beings are like geese. We do what we see. We imitate the behavior of those who are one step ahead of us. Imprinting is in our genes. That means that we parents are always discipling our kids. Our example is always preaching louder than our words.

Harry Chapin’s song, “The Cat’s in the Cradle” had it exactly right. The father who didn’t have time for the son produced a son who had no time for the father.

We may worry that we’re neglecting the discipleship of our children, but the truth is, we’re all discipling our kids to something. Barna’s studies show that Christian parents place a higher priority on their children’s education and extracurricular activities than they do their spiritual development. They’ll grow up to do the same.

Parents – check out the time you invest in these activities. Whatever you put into your child is what you’ll get out.

We can’t escape the principle of imprinting. Put a TV in your house and MTV may well disciple your children to become rebellious punks who make you crazy. If so, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself. Children do what they see. Want to raise up a world changer? Start doing what Jesus did.*

*I suggest you start by reading Luke 4-10 and do what you see him doing there. And if you need help beyond that, check out this blog.

Comments (5)

  • as a parent & educator, I have found that my children (bio & foster), and students are “caught” more than they are “taught.” such a true statement. Yes,we are all, always being discipled by someone, or something. Discipleship costs, and we must be willing to pay the price, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and yes, financially to see that Jesus is lifted up. Remember, he said “…if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me…” I pray that our daily activities, words, and motives lift Jesus up, then truly we will make disciples of all men.
    Oh, BTW…we used to raise geese, and had a flock, that were imprinted on me because I incubated them, they did see me first, and hung out with my family & I, rather than the geese. They would sleep by the kitchen window just to stay “close.”

  • Steph – WR July ’08

    To look at this from another perspective, there is the idea of coming to an age where we choose what we are discipled by. Are we, as young adults, choosing TV and “secular culture” by the time we invest in them, or are we choosing Christ by investing time in studying His life and being around people who live it out?

  • Amen to that, Steph. Our generation likes making a lot of excuses for our lack of leadership and fathering instead of rising above the example set before us so that we may “do greater things” than the generation before us. That probably happens in partnership with a remnant of radical boomers who are willing to adopt our generation, teaching us and believing that we can be greater. So, as a millenial, if I may speak for my generation, I’d like to declare amnesty for any guilt-ridden parents out there… You did the best you could. Now, shake it off. There’s a ton of young adults and youth who are parentless looking for some direction. Be a discipler.

  • I think that’s very true, Jeff. One of the biggest struggles I think within our generation is the lack of taking/accepting responsibility. We’ve got a bit of a victim culture happening…so thanks for helping to lead the charge away from that mentality.

  • Right on target Barnes. This is the reason we invested so much time and effort into taking our five kids to Africa for 35 days this summer. Ministering together has to be a priority for us. Otherwise, we’re likely to get swept down the cultural river of normalcy and apathy. God forbid! Thanks for this word.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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