Our Call As Parents, Part One- Train Up A Child
By Steph Nickel
What does it mean to “train up a child”? Steph Nickel provides a fresh perspective on the well known Bible verse.
Train Up A Child In The Way He Should Go
Proverbs 22:6 is a very familiar verse to many of us. It says,
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Does this verse refer to our children coming to saving faith? Many have thought so over the years, but we do know that not all who are raised in Christian homes share their parents’ faith.
Will they change their mind if we, the parents, just believe intently enough, if we clutch the promise tightly enough? That’s an entirely different topic and not relevant for today’s discussion.
Instead, I would like to look at this verse in a different light.
Let’s consider it from two perspectives: what we do and what we say.
But before that, I have a suggestion: If you are a parent, why not take the time to write down the top six or so lessons you would like to teach your children. These can be matters of faith or other lessons.
Train Up A Child- They Watch Our Actions
For example, my husband has taught our three now grown children the importance of humbly and faithfully providing for one’s family. Humbly because the Lord has not opened the doors to full-time ministry though Dave has his master’s degree in church music. Instead, he has earned a living working as a maintenance man for over thirty years. For ten of those years, he also delivered hundreds of newspapers very early each morning. Add to that the time he spent as church custodian and you get an idea of how faithfully he does what needs to be done.
He never sat our kids down and explained to them why he did what he did, but his life spoke volumes, and I can’t begin to tell you how much I admire him. He has been involved in music ministry at the church, in one capacity or another, for all that time and he still has a few music students, but he would much prefer to do something music-related full-time.
And just one final word on the subject: Dave is not a complainer. He puts in extra hours every week cleaning and repairing townhouses and seniors’ apartments because he believes that whatever you do, you should do to the best of your ability. Our children have learned to be hard workers from his example, and that’s a very good thing.
Train Up A Child- They Listen to Our Words
Big surprise, I’m the talker in our family. That is not a bad thing, but my inclination to blurt out whatever was on my mind posed problems in the past. Thankfully, the Lord has been at work in me—and still is. I am much less likely these days to speak without thinking.
But I can’t help but think back over the years. By God’s grace I did do some things right. And by His grace, we have a close knit family. But there are certainly things I wish I’d done differently.
How could my children learn that “a soft answer turns away wrath,” as it says in Proverbs 15:1, when I was busy speaking harsh words that stirred up anger? True, this was years ago, but how we are raised definitely impacts the adults we become.
How could they learn to respect authority when I, too often, gave voice to my frustration about something that had been said or done by one of our church leaders? There are proper channels to follow if, indeed, a leader is not living or teaching biblically, but venting in the hearing of one’s children is not one of them. How could they learn to love their brothers and sisters in Christ when I clearly didn’t love as I ought?
It has been over the past few years that I found myself silencing the voice in my head that would say, “Sure you should obey God’s Word, but . . .”
“Yes, but . . .” is never a good way to approach what we do or say when the Scriptures are clear. After all, as believers in Jesus Christ, we have all we need for life and godliness, as it says in 2 Peter 1:3. We have His indwelling Holy Spirit to teach us what to do and then empower us to do it.
Train Up A Child- It’s Ok To Make Mistakes
Our children will learn from our words and from our example, but we will all make mistakes along the way. We must trust in God’s mercy and grace. And yes, we can hold firmly to His promises, not because He will then be more inclined to fulfill them but because He is 100 percent trustworthy. We must also be open and honest with our children. If we admit that we are still learning to do what God wants us to do—and we don’t simply use that as an excuse—this, too, will set a good example for them.
So, back to today’s verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
What do you want to teach your children? What have you learned from the Bible that you want to pass along to them? How will you deliberately seek to teach your children at least one lesson this week? What actions will you take to back up those words?
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Images courtesy of:
Child (1)- Bessi
Child (2)- Bessi
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