Train Up a Child

What parent doesn’t know this verse? 

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

As a parent, we cling to that promise.  We treat it like it’s some magical charm to insure that our children will survive childhood and become faithful and thriving adults.  It’s a promise!  It’s in the Bible!  It must be true.

It’s one of the most quoted Bible verses from a parent’s lips-probably right after “Children obey your parents in the Lord.”

You’ve recited it to yourself when your children were just begging for discipline.  It was your mantra when you were tired.  It helped you make it to naptime.  It spurred you onward toward Bible studies with your children.  It was the push behind family devotions.  It is your encouragement.

You have to train up your child.  You have to do it right.  You have to set them on that straight path so they will continue.  At least, that’s what we think……

Today I heard another perspective on that verse.  One that resonated deeply.  When you go back and truly study the words in the original language, it’s amazing what you can glean.

You know what the word “train up” means in Hebrew?  It has 2 meanings.  I’ll tell you both.

1.)  to disciple

What does that mean?  To disciple?  I looked it up in the little online dictionary.  A disciple is a Christ follower when used as a noun.

And according to this dictionary the verb form of the word is obsolete.  That obsolete definition means to train and teach.

That’s not a good sign at all if it’s considered obsolete.  Why would it be obsolete and antiquated?  What are we missing as parents?  Are we missing our calling to teach our children, train them, and mold them into disciples – one of the radical few who sacrificed everything to follow around one man who espoused some radical teaching?

2.)  to dedicate

This was the part of the meaning that I’ve been missing all along.  I do want to teach my children.  But I forget about the dedication of their lives.  How much time do I spend praying over them?  How easy is it to forget that they’re not really mine?  I don’t write the master plan for their lives.  I can’t see into the future and predict their callings.  Nope, I have to daily give them over to the One who loves them more than I do.

So, this verse commands parents to disciple their children in the radical teachings of Christ and then to turn around and hand over the reins.  And if we do those two things, God does make a promise.  He doesn’t promise that our children will never stray.  He doesn’t promise that they will even accept Him.  Gulp, that’s not what I want to hear.  He tells us that it’s out of our hands and not within our control.

However, He does promise that the little seedlings of teaching and training that we plant now we never be fully removed.  Our children will grow up with God talking to them inside their minds and hearts.  They might welcome His input or try to tune Him out completely.  But God promises that what we start now, He will be faithful to finish if our child will yield to Him.  His still small voice promises to never quit, give up, or go away.

In other words, our children will never be able to hide from their ever-loving Father.  As parents we have the privilege of laying the opportunity on the table for them.  It’s up to them to take God up on His offer.  But we can open the door and start the line of communication. 

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