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Train Up a Child

Train Up a Child

In the small town where I grew up, “turning out” was a big deal. A person turned out right when they got a steady job, got married, had a family, and stayed in the same church in which they were raised. It was the formula hovering over each parent, judging their success or failure. Nothing fueled gossip or categorized social strata as much as how offspring turned out.

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

On four Sundays, my husband and I dedicated four different children. I remember each occasion. I also remember feeling uncomfortable with my parenthood visible for all to see and sensing that I was inept at the task.

Our first child, a baby girl, cried (aka screamed) all the time, every day. Not knowing how to calm her was all too obvious from the podium.

The second slept through it all like an angel, but our two-year-old with us on stage was, well… two.

The third struggled in my arms and pulled at my hair while the other two danced around us.

The fourth, let’s say we invented a new type of dedication. I watched while my husband showed off our son like the Lion King.

Honestly, before our children are born, we all have a rosy mental picture of how we expect them to turn out. We envision “the way they should go.” Our idyllic image is often formed by its opposite. We’ve watched others, determined not to make the same mistakes. However, when we are in the parental fracas and everyone is watching us, the picture gets murky. We are no longer sure we have what it takes. We wonder if our children will indeed “turn out.”

Parenting is complicated.

Proverbs 22:6, sometimes misinterpreted in my well-meaning small-town upbringing, is a principle rather than a formula of child-rearing. Authored by a man distinguished as wise, even his parenting resulted in disappointment. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam began his reign foolishly and continued it in disobedience.

So how do we, “Train up a child in the way he should go?”

The word “train,” in the original Hebrew language of the Old Testament, is the same word sometimes referring to dedication. It suggests active commitment and intentional action. The verse implies the importance of nurturing even the smallest of children toward a trajectory, the path of knowing God.

Sometimes Christians fear forcing or brain-washing faith, but the world has no such qualms about inculcating its philosophies. Never fear the intentionality of Proverbs 22:6. It is a poignant plea for the saving power of God in the lives of our children.

While parents want guarantees, God gives guidelines.

“Train up a child,” encourages parental obedience to God. It prods moms and dads to faithfulness and perseverance. Scripture is our children’s best instruction guide for “turning out” to love and follow the Savior. God’s words are true. His Spirit speaks to a child’s heart softening it for obedience.

Our babies are never too tiny to hear it. Whisper it while they sleep in your arms, read it before bedtime, laugh as you act out the stories, and let them know how you delight in the words of God.

Love the Bible, obey it, and trust God to speak through it.

From the Old Testament to the New Testament, parents are instructed to be intentional about passing on God’s Word, to speak it and to live it.  The Israelites were told, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deut. 11:19; NIV.

Why? Because God’s desire is for training to have permanent rewards.

“…Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

By: Sylvia Schroeder serves as Women’s Care Coordinator at Avant Ministries. Mom to four, grandma to 13, and wife to her one and only love, she enjoys writing about all of them. Find her blog at When the House is Quiet. Like her Facebook page or follow her on twitter.

Join us at for our parenting blog each Monday-Friday and for info about the Just 18 Summers novel.

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