Monday, September 9, 2013

Proverbs 22:6 Let the training begin!

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

Well, it’s the first day of school, and parents everywhere are doing their happy dances! In our district, due to the furlough cuts last year, this was the longest summer we will ever see. So, I’m actually doing a happy dance myself! I’m ready! The room is clean, pencils are sharpened, books are ready to be distributed, name plates are made, and for the last time in the school year, my desk is cleared and I can actually see the wood veneer.

Next to being a parent, I believe teaching is the most important job in the world. I’ve been given the privilege to teach and to train children. So, today’s verse is meaningful to me. I’ve always seen this verse as a wonderful promise from God that, if we are diligent to train our children, they will stay on the right path. And, yet, I know many parents who seemed to do everything right, and their children are not walking with the LORD - yet! I say, “yet,” because I don’t believe that God is finished with us until He is finished with us.

My father-in-law was an example of someone whose parents loved and served God (his father was a Baptist minister who prayed faithfully for his children and unborn grandchildren). Yet, Frank spent most of his life ignoring the God of his father. I believe God kept him alive until he finally surrendered.

So, what is it with this verse? I like what Jon Courson has to say about it. “There’s a difference between training and teaching. A teacher tells you what to do. A trainer shows you how to do it.”  (Jon Couson's Application Commentary: Old Testament, Vol. 2; P. 249)  Now, while I could argue that a good teacher DOES actually show a student how to do it, I get his point. While a teacher may disseminate information, a personal trainer will get on the mat with you and show you all of the moves you need. They have been where you are and have disciplined themselves to reach their peak, so they can model for you how you can best get fit. They will lead and you will follow.

As a parent, it is not enough that we disseminate information about Jesus Christ to our children. It’s not enough that we read Bible stories, pray, take the kids to Sunday School, and even serve in a ministry at church, although ALL of that is part of the training we need to do. But if that’s all they get from us, and they aren’t actually seeing how to put it into practice in the trenches by our example, we haven’t gone far enough.

Our children need to see us exercising our faith daily. They need to see us in the day-to-day struggles acting out our faith and trusting God. They need to see us responding in love when we encounter needs, trusting when we’ve been disappointed, forgiving when we’ve been hurt, humbling ourselves and repenting when we’ve been wrong, and completely surrendering to God’s will in the big and the little things of life. They need to see authenticity. They also need to see us trusting God with our finances. They need to see us modeling contentment in a very materialistic world. They need to see us generously giving back to God what He has given to us.

Even parents who do all of this see their children walk away. But I want to offer the encouragement to those of you who are hurting over a wayward child (even adult child). I have seen, over and over, adult children, who seemed beyond reach, return to the LORD of their childhood. I became a Christian in my late twenties, and when I went to one of my high school reunions after that, I saw that several people in my class had written in their biographies that they, too, had become Christians. I sought each one of them out to hear their stories. Every single person, without fail, had the same basic story. When they came to a point of need in their lives, they remembered the stories or hymns they had learned in Sunday School as children, and they knew where to turn.

This was a major impact on my view of children’s ministries. Seeds planted when children are little do take hold. Children need lots of training when it comes to their faith. How are we getting on the mat with them?

Off to meet my new group!  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Mom! This is so wonderful! What a great way to start off a new school year and a new ministry year! Thank you for planting seeds in my heart, and now in the hearts of your grandchildren!