Like father, like son

Simon Zhang (republished from YCKC website) // October 18, 2020, 1:18 am


After my son Caleb was born, I began to reconsider the meaning of discipleship in my parenthood journey.

I started observing our daily lives. Whenever I spoke to family members in an impatient tone or shouted loudly, my infant boy would stare at me with a confused or fearful expression.

He seemed to be asking me, “Did I do something wrong, daddy? Why are you so angry with me?” He would sometimes even start to sob.

I realised that Caleb thought I was expressing all my negative emotions towards him. I also realised how I was unloving during my communication with others.

It led to deep confession of my sinful behaviours, because when I communicate with my loved ones, I tend to lose my patience easily. I also recognised that parenting starts from the parent, not the child.

If making my son a disciple of Jesus and leading him to Christ is what I aim to achieve in his life, I wonder how that will end up if I, the teacher, behave differently from what I hope to teach.

1. Discipleship is to be like the teacher

Jesus spoke to His disciples in Luke 6:40, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

So when we say we’re Jesus’ disciples, we are to be like Jesus in our daily lives. But am I there?

What trying to be a great dad taught me about the Good Father

As I intentionally disciple my son, he will naturally end up like me. I do not wish to see Caleb communicating with his mother and wife similar to how I sometimes do now.

I don’t want him telling me in the future, “But Dad, that is how you speak to your mum and wife!” That would be horrible, and a family tragedy! Change begins with me, with God’s empowerment.

2. Discipleship is a church thing

Knowing my limitations and sinful nature, I cannot be the only influence on my child.

Thankfully, Caleb has a loving mother who balances my parenting skills in many ways. As we are good at different things, it will benefit Caleb.

And I believe that there will be many more teachers along the way in a young believer’s discipleship journey.

It is just as Paul spoke in Ephesians 4:11-16, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”

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The testimonies of many brothers and sisters in my church prove the effectiveness of discipleship in church.

For example, I often hear of gratitude towards mentors who have invested in mentees’ lives or journeyed with mentees in different seasons and ways. It is so heartwarming and fulfills the Bible’s teachings.

As believers, we all have a role to play in discipleship.

3. Discipleship starts with love

Our teaching is worthless without love. In Multiply, Francis Chan says, “Most of us have to work hard to keep love at the forefront.”

I think I need to work even harder, but not by my strength. Chan says that we need to be transformed by the gospel and let God enter our lives, in order to be changed from the inside out.

Our final goal is to end up like Christ.

He summarises it this way: “our power to transform hearts and change lives comes from the Holy Spirit (John 6:63), through the Word of God (2 Tim 3:16-17) and prayer (James 5:16-20).”

It is a training process for both the teacher and the student (parent and child). Our final goal is to end up like Christ. Along the way, God provides and will lead us to accomplish the task.

May we all be like the loving Father.

This article was first published on Yio Chu Kang Chapel’s website and is republished with permission.


  1. What does discipleship mean according to the Bible?
  2. Who are you discipling? Who are you being discipled by? 
  3. How can you be an encouragement to these individuals this week?