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