Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Effective Discipleship in the Home

by Timothy Palla

And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he
might send them forth to preach (Mark 3:14).

Jesus Christ's profound principles of discipleship were taught to us
in the simplest ways. His goal was to train and prepare men to carry
the Gospel to the rest of the world. He did it by inviting them to
spend time with Him. They watched Him and heard Him pray, they
witnessed His perseverance under intense public pressure, and they
observed His wrathful response toward ungodly foolishness. They gained
first-hand knowledge of His love, forgiveness, patience, and righteous
anger; all attitudes that He skillfully used to confront people's
hearts with the Truth.

This principle often dawns upon my own heart as I attempt to disciple
those that are with me; particularly my five children. My goal is to
raise my four boys and daughter so that one day, should the Lord call
them, they will be qualified and well prepared to serve Him.

Cultivating a love for the faith

Discipleship at the Palla house takes place during homeschooling,
family devotions and weekly church activity. Along with being the
pastor of a small country church I am also a horse lover and perhaps
my favorite times for discipleship are when the boys and I go through
our routines of cleaning stalls, training, riding and preparing for
our local competitions.

I wanted my two oldest sons, Drew and Dane, to love riding and caring
for horses just as I did. The boys, however, didn't have this same
affection so I had to "convert" them creatively. Sometimes my personal
enthusiasm was enough to spark interest, but other times it only
produced strife. I tried to give plenty of instruction and teach them
how a horse responds to certain types of pressure, how to read the
horse's expressions and what a judge looks for in a rider. Some things
they picked up quickly and easily and some things took a painfully
long time.

Jesus had to cultivate a love for righteousness and the Gospel in men
who did not have a natural bent for such things. Along with
instruction and example, He allowed them the opportunity to ask
questions, make mistakes and learn at their own pace. Although they
each would differ in their talents and gifts, the majority would
emerge with a burden for the lost and a love for the Father that would
command great personal discipline and obedience to the faith. He did
all this through lectures, meals, fishing trips, hikes, and visits to
the temple.

Disciple with individual needs in mind

I have learned a great deal about my children and their horses in the
process of family discipleship. After four years of training my oldest
son, Drew, and his Quarter horse for easy-going pleasure classes, he
decided to try barrel racing and pole bending. I was amazed that the
two had substantially more talent for speed than they did for the
slower more relaxed style of riding they had been doing. This renewed
his interest and he began to see some fresh results in competition.
Drew is a natural leader, and like Paul, once you get him in the right
direction, he'll motivate and challenge himself to run the race and
finish the course.

Dane, my second oldest son, is one of those kids who quickly rises to
the top but easily gets discouraged. He has a quality about him that
makes people sit up and take notice even before he gets into the show
ring. However, when he gets frustrated, it can be devastating.
Discipleship with him is similar to Jesus' style of mentoring Peter;
it requires more heart-to-heart talks, a little more patience, and
occasionally a harsh rebuke. The Savior worked on getting Peter's
focus off the temporary and onto the eternal. In the end, Peter was
one who preached to the multitudes with the boldness and confidence of
a lion. He had it in him all along, it was redirecting that energy
that took creativity and work.

Effective discipleship comes down to a few simple principles that can
be copied by anyone:

1. Those that are with you are your best students. That's why God gave
your children to you and not another set of parents.

2. Use plenty of real-life situations to learn about your students and
teach them godly principles.

3. Disciple with God's ultimate calling in mind -- whether your
students know it or not.

4. Remember that complete training involves seeing, hearing, and
experiencing -- in love. Jesus said in Luke 6:40 "A pupil... after he
has been fully trained, will be like his teacher."

One day Jesus confidently turned his earthly ministry over to those
disciples. They weren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but
they had observed, experienced and heard enough to know what was
required of them. They turned the world upside down didn't they? Have
hope that, as you disciple those who are with you, they too will
understand what is required of them and one day, to your joy, they
will turn the world upside down.

Pastor Timothy Palla resides in southern Ohio with his lovely wife
Jennifer and their five children; Drew, Dane, Aidan, Ethan, and
Meghan. You may contact him at tpalla@rocketmail.com.

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