Train Up a Child1
by Angela Hammons
Probably one of the most popular verses quoted to parents is Proverbs 22:6. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” That sounds easy enough, right? Teach them to be “good,” teach them about God, make sure they grow up in church, and their model behavior and salvation is in the bag. Unfortunately, we know this is not the case. Jesus didn’t say that once the house was built upon the rock, everything would be perfect. The rain still fell. The floods still smashed against the house.
So what actually is our role in the discipleship of our children? How do we “train” them? By “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all things will be added.” (Matthew 6:33) We plant seeds, we provide tools, and pray our hearts out for the Holy Spirit to grasp their hearts as only He can do!
Mark 3:14 says, “And he appointed twelve (whom He also called apostles) so that they might be with Him, and He might send them out to preach.” In a brief devotional by Esther Collins entitled Children: A Gift & Responsibility, she writes, “Often as parents we force our children to believe in the Lord instead of discipling them to become believers in Him. As parents who are followers of Christ, we are called to be with our children, to share with them, and let them see and witness God’s Faithfulness in our lives every day.”
By nature, my personality is to be a planner and a doer. I like details. I like specifics. I like having a specific plan for how things are going to play out, and as a result, because life typically doesn’t give us a playbook, I tend to also be a worrier. As parents, we are supposed to worry about our kids, aren’t we? Don’t all good parents do it? How can that be a sin? By definition worry is to allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles, and the Bible gives us other specific places for our minds to dwell: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1) “Abide (or dwell) in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” (John 15:4)
Ultimately, worry is fear and lack of trust. We don’t trust that God is in control of our lives. Worry tells our children, “God is not in control of this situation.” How much more powerful would confidence and peace of mind in God’s power and sovereignty be when modeled for our children! As God becomes bigger in our lives, fear becomes smaller. Jen Wilkin said, “Ultimately we gain lasting comfort and freedom from fear by beholding who God is. Our fears are grounded in a lack of understanding of who God says He is in His Word.” In fact, Jesus tells us NOT to worry, but instead to thank God! When worry is overwhelming us, we can thank God for all that He has already done for and given to us!
Kids in different life stages face different struggles in their spiritual walks without even realizing that’s what they really are. Teenagers in particular have so much going on in their hearts and minds that we have to be especially careful not to let their own personal struggles become our struggles WITH them. So many times we see the bigger picture they cannot, and so desperately want to just flip a switch and make it all make sense to them, too. I often find myself saying, “I know you can’t understand this right now, but if you know how much I love you and believe that I have your best interest at heart, why can’t you just follow my instructions!? Trust that I know what I am doing!” How convicting to realize that surely that is what God must think watching me every day!