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Dads are Disciplers

Greg E. Gifford, PhD, CBC



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I want to paint a scenario and have you as fathers place yourself into that scenario: I want you to imagine that you are looking forward to your day off, or your weekend. You have an idea of what you will be doing or what needs to be accomplished.

Work: for some of you when you think of weekend, you think of a to-do list. There is this unnamed amount of things that must be accomplished (i.e., wash the car, mow the lawn, clean the garage) and you unwittingly know that you will need to spend part of your weekend working on those items.

Hobby: However, others automatically gravitate towards their hobby: fishing, hunting, golfing, reading, working on the car is how they look forward to spending their day. When the weekend comes, your hobby becomes very important. Your time off is directly connected to your hobby.

Leisure: One last aspect of how we fathers spend our time of is in leisure. We just want to ‘relax’ or unwind. We just want a few moments of quiet. Perhaps this is where you find yourself, sitting down in front of the television and wanting to zone out in front of a show for a little bit. There may be an important game that you do not want to miss or another show that is part of a series that you love. Whatever that may be, you are in front of the television vegetating for a bit.

Whatever scenario you find yourself associating with the best, think of how you typically spend your time off and I will tell you there is a direct indication of the type of discipler that you are. You are making disciples of a sports team, of a hunting hobby, of golf, or Nascar. You are—intentionally or unintentionally—making disciples.

What is a Disciple?

Turn to Mark 2:18 with me. A disciple “is basically the pupil of a teacher.”[1] A student of a teacher. Read Mark 2:18 with me: “And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?” In this one verse we see disciples of three different people: John, the Pharisees, and Jesus.

A disciple is nothing more than a student of a person or program. A person who is learning from another person everything from how to work on a car to how to view trouble.

This passage shows us that we can be a disciple of the wrong person or disciple others for the wrong purposes. It is important to note that being a disciple does not necessarily mean that you are a godly person. You can be a disciple of Richard Dawkins, a renowned atheist, or Charles Darwin. Being a disciple does not mean anything other you are a student of a person. “I am a disciple of _____.” Who is that person or what is that thing for you, Dad?

Our Premise: All Dad’s Are Disciplers

From Nascar, to the Georgia Bulldogs; from fishing to working in the garage—all dads disciple. All dads are in the business of making students. There are no exemptions and no exceptions. We as dads are instructors of something. The question for us is not if we will make disciples, but rather, what kind of disciples are we making?

Have you ever wondered why a kid loves the exact same sports team as their father? Is it because the dad was bent on converting their child to their sports team? No, it is because the dad naturally taught them to be a disciple of that sports team through watching games, checking highlights, talking about players, and wearing that teams logos.

Have you ever wondered why certain kids have tendency towards hunting and fishing? Coming from California and South Korea, I am convinced that the answer is not solely because these are fun things to do. One of the main reasons is because dad naturally taught them how to fish and the excitement that comes when you catch a fish. It came from early mornings in a tree stand with dad and then the day you shot your first deer. Unintentionally or intentionally, dad is making disciples of deer-hunting and fishing.

What I hope to show you is that all dads are disciplers—even if they are poor disciplers or disciplers of the wrong things. And show you that God calls us fathers to be the primary disciplers of our families for Christlikeness.


[1] Wood, D. R. W., and I. Howard Marshall. New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996). s. v. “disciple.” Electronic edition.

Copyright (c) 2014 Greg Gifford

All rights reserved


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"God may be looked upon in an absolute consideration, as he is in himself the best and most excellent being, wherein we behold the concurrence of all perfections, the most amiable and beauteous excellences, to an intellectual eye, that it can have an apprehension of." --John Howe, On Delighting in God
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