Friday, September 15, 2006

Train for Life

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

I have friends who have been exceptional parents. They did everything in their power to train and serve their children. One of their sons knew from an early age that he was going to try drugs and when he did his life began a dramatic tumble downward that continues to this day. Proverbs 22:6 is an often quoted verse, but also can be one of the most painful statements in the Bible.

Unfortunately, part of the problem is our inappropriate interpretation of this verse. Lots of people will quote this verse as a promise, almost a contractual agreement. This means if they train their child in the right way, then their child’s life will turn out well. So what do you do with a child in rebellion or addiction or who has turned away from God? Lots of parents suffer in silent agony blaming themselves.

This is an inappropriate interpretation of the Book of Proverbs. Proverbs is one of two wisdom books in the Old Testament. Proverbs gives general principles, but not specific promises. So in general a child trained in godly ways is going to end up following after God. But there are exceptions both ways. I have known parents who never trained their children spiritually and yet their kids have become spiritual leaders. I have also known really good parents who have struggled with kids in rebellion. The key point of the verse is we should do everything we can to provide good training for our kids. But don’t use this verse to blame yourself or criticize someone else.

Another important part of the verse is the phrase “when he is old.” Often kids who are rebellious turn around later in life. This is true of even famous leaders. Franklin Graham tells the story of drinking whiskey racing across the desert with no purpose or direction to his life. Yet, God turned his life around and now he leads the Billy Graham Association. But again, this isn’t a promise only a general principle.


So what should we do? First, we should all do everything we can to encourage and help parents and avoid comparing our children. We also should be humble enough to admit when we need help and get the assistance that will help us be better parents. Most importantly we need to learn to pray for our kids and trust God to be their ultimate parent.

Today’s Life Line devotional was written by Paul Johnson


Dawn said...

We had this precise discussion in SS class last week. It is a very real encouragement to people like us who did everything we knew to do and saw everything go wrong. Satan wants us to blame ourselves and live in defeat. Thanks for sharing this perspective today. I know it helps you, too!

Barbara H. said...

So very true -- we need to remember this perspective.

Diane said...

My daughter is a college freshman this year, and is already making some decisions that are against her Christian raising. She was raised in church from 5 days old until she left our home for college. It would be easy to question my parenting skills and wonder where I went wrong, but I refuse to let Satan drag me down that path. I did the best I could and she was taught the right way to go, but now she's making her own decisions and choices and will have to live by them. As her Mama I pray for her, all the while dreading the consequences she will have to deal with from those decisions.

Sooner or later, we all have to stand on our own 2 feet and give account for our choices, then bear the judgment from a just God for those choices, whether good or bad.

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

AMEN!! - well said sister! so glad you pointed out that the proverb is a general principle not a promise!!

wonderful insight as usual - thanks :)

Mary-LUE said...

Put my voice in with the others that shout Yes! to this post. While I take comfort in this verse as my son approaches his high school years, I know, like you said, that it isn't a promise but more of a rule of thumb. I have seen so many people grow to question God because they don't understand this principle. Thanks for the reminder!

Dawn said...

Diane - Kristen's trying to get 125 comments on her 125th post. Can you pop over there and help her out? Hope things are going okay! Thanks!

Gardenia said...

Wise post.

We can question ourselves in a million different ways with a million different questions. I hate drugs with a vehement passion. So many children who otherwise would not have walked such a difficult path now do so because our country is so tolerant of letting the stuff come in.

I pray for my grown children and my grandkids everyday, Dear Lord, protect them from temptation and deliver them from evil!

MugwumpMom said...

What an amazingly encouraging post! So true. And eye opening. Thanks so much for sharing it.

Barb said...

I'm stopping by to thank you for visiting me this week. I appreciate the comment you left on my Thursday Thirteen post.

I read this and I couldn't agree with you more. We can give them the tools to work with and teach them the way to go. But when they reach an age they think they can make their own decisions, to a certain extent it's out of our hands. That's when we parents can only hand it over to God and pray.

Diane, she's just as normal as a 1st year college student can be. My two girls, as great as they turned out, turned quite a bit of my hair gray their first year of college. Amazing. They almost always get over it, settle down and start making us proud of them.