3 Tips on How to Disciple with 3 Kids Under Age 5!

 “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

           Were these words written for the Statue of Liberty or Nav Staff mommies with several children under the age of five?  When our three were very small and I would seek to go to the bathroom I simply could not do so without a ‘huddled mass’ of our kiddies.  I look back now and fondly remember the desperation I felt to grab a few moments of solace when they were so little. And, it seemed like if I was ever going to pull it off it would have to coincide with when I used the bathroom. On a few rare occasions I managed to do so!

           Before I entered motherhood I had two desires I hoped to carry into the fray: First, I wanted to make sure I established consistent time alone with God. Secondly, I wanted to continue to meet with and disciple women. 

           The life-giving opportunities that we have with our toddlers are abundant and constant so achieving these two desires seemed, at best, tenuous.  Before I share the following lessons I must let you know that there were times in the lives of my babies and toddlers that I was not discipling someone.  We must always be cognizant of our personal capacity and prioritize the needs of our families as we seek to contribute outside the home.  We want to ensure that we minister to others from a platform of strength and health.  
           In this post I want to share three lessons God taught me as He helped me to stay engaged at discipling women during those very full years.

1) Intentionality  
            Most importantly, as I look back, one thing is for sure.  If I did not intentionally pursue discipling another it was not going to happen.  Because we were involved in ministry there was always someone to disciple.  So deciding to stay at it meant I would pray with Tom and, together, we would determine who I would disciple. Tom and I were partners in ministry so he was supportive and grateful for my heart to engage one-to-one.  During this season of life it was easy for me to feel distant in relation to what was going on at the campus and the world at large. Meeting one-to-one kept me current and hopefully contributed to the ministry and the lives of those I met with.

2) Planning  
            Next, planning when I could meet with someone was crucial.  Because of the kids’ ages, schedules and etc., planning required that I stay flexible and open to meet with women when the kids were most manageable. Sometimes I would set up meeting when they were more likely to be affable and able to play on their own. The timing of snacks and certain toys “reserved for use during special occasions” served to keep them contented.  Sometimes I would meet during their naps.  When there is more than one child juggling naptime can be quite a feat.

            As of late I have been meeting with a young mom who has three children under three!  I have been impressed with the tranquil quiet that permeates her home when I arrive to meet with her. This state of stillness infuses the atmosphere because she has performed the small miracle of getting her three to nap at the same time. Certainly, when there are little ones around there is the possibility of interruption, but that is par for the course as we meet when we have children. Two young women I met with when we were at Purdue in the mid-seventies told me later that one of the greatest take-aways from our one-to-one times together was observing the interaction I had with my children. So much of discipling is caught, not taught!

3) Realistic Expectations  
            Thirdly, keep expectations of yourself, your children and the situation doable!  Be diligent to keep your word on the start and finish time of your one-to-one!  When we go beyond the time we have agreed upon the ones who suffer are our children!  There were a few semesters where I met with just one woman!  This was all my capacity would allow.

             Whenever we meet one-on-one our hope is to spend quality time catching up on life!  We also want to share from the Word and pray. Prepping content for discipling can take time so we do need to be faithful to do “the work” of prep but leave perfectionistic attitudes behind and keep prep simple. Praying for those we help also takes time but it does not have to be a monastic experience. We can pray for those we meet with as we change diapers or fold clothes!  Be the mom you are!  The gift of yourself will model much for those women you are discipling!

             Throughout life the fruit of discipling another has always proven to be a deep wonderful relationship with the one I am discipling. This is not the purpose of discipling but it is certainly a benefit!

             Determining to disciple at least one woman during the most exhausting and non-stop season of our lives is a commitment we make out of love for the Lord and people. It calls upon us to go beyond the mommy boundary of “giving until you can’t give anymore.”  I am certain that when Jesus said, “The greatest among you shall be your servant,” He had young Nav-staff mommies in his mind’s eye!”


Our Seasoned Mom – Dana Yeakley 
“Grandma D” and Tom have been on staff with the Navs for over 30 years and married over 40 years. They are blessed with six children and seven grandchildren. Dana has lived in many places throughout her life time: Florida, Maryland, Indonesia, Chicago and Colorado Springs to name a few.  Dana’s loves are the Word of God, people and helping people learn. 

What about you? What lessons has God taught you about disicpling in this crazy season of parenting little ones? Or what stood out in Dana’s post that encouraged your mama’s heart? Please respond in the comments section below or on our FB group.

Want practical help in this area? Two great resources are Linnette Bachman’s booklet, Feminine Disciplemaking, and Dana’s upcoming book on the gentle art of dicipling women, available early 2016 through NavPress.

“I really like Linette’s booklet on feminine disciplemaking because she teaches from her heart and experience as a campus staff mother. It is easy to read, stimulating, not super long and encourages the reader to rise up to our Nav Calling of raising up generations of laborers. If you have not read her booklet please get a copy of it and prayerfully read it!” – Dana Yeakley

These booklets are available directly from Linnette for only $3! Please email sherrygraf@gmail.com for ordering information.

Be sure to chime in on the nap-time discussion on Wednesday (either on the blog or directly on our FB post). We will be drawing a name from those who comment for a free copy of Linnette’s booklet!!!

2 thoughts on “3 Tips on How to Disciple with 3 Kids Under Age 5!

  1. Dana, this was really sweet to read tonight. I am right there. I call my 3 under 5 my little duckies because, like you know well, they do follow me to the bathroom! I love how you put such a simple perspective on prioritizing this season with ministry. When mommy brain is severe, any form of organization or steps to take is such a welcomed gift.


  2. Hi Katie, Thanks for your thoughts! And, i see that somehow you managed to gather them and give a very coherent response at midnigt!!! So appreciate your loving laborer's heart!


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