I’ve had a few hours now to calm down from bringing the talk for the fourth time this weekend, but I still think that parenting is the toughest thing we get into as human beings. So challenging, so complicated, and who even knows what the final score is until God adds it up?
Anyway, in the two morning services, with time limited due to the appeal I made for volunteers, (by the way, thanks to all of you who responded so overwhelmingly… you really excited some leaders, I can tell you that!) I actually had to leave out the third point in my list of things you want in your parenting experience.
It was #3… Train.
Proverbs 22:6 is probably the most famous verse in the Bible on the subject of preparing kids for life.
6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Solomon is laying out a principle (as he often does in the Proverbs) that shows how life tends to work. No question about that. But what does the Bible mean when it uses the word train?
Funny thing about that Hebrew word, it’s used in several other contexts that turn really interesting when applied to parenting.
- Sometimes it means to dedicate. The same word is used in describing the dedication of Solomon’s temple. To dedicate something means to establish purpose, ownership, and direction.
- It’s sometimes used to describe the launching of an arrow. One little girl misquoted our verse like this: “Train up a child and away he goes.” She might have got the verse wrong, but she nailed the truth. They grow up fast. You have to be careful about aiming an arrow, because they fly fast, and you can’t aim it again after it’s launched.
- A flexible rod could be bent repeatedly until it adopted the desired bend, so that even if someone attempted to bend it back, it would fly back into shape. I always think about Daniel’s parents. They must have trained him over and over as a child that he was to only worship the true God. While still a kid he was carried into captivity and wound up working in the administrations of four different kings (all of whom worshipped idol gods.) Time after time, Daniel was pushed to compromise his values. Read the book that bears his name and you’ll discover that each time, regardless of the incentive or the threat, he always kept his spiritual shape. Here’s the importance of being consistent!
- On occasion, the word is used to describe something Hebrew midwives would do in order to get infants to nurse. They would make a thin paste of crushed dates, and rub a tiny amount in the baby’s palate. This particular usage of the word, always reminds me as a dad, that one my key responsibilities is to help my kids develop appetites for things that are spiritually healthy.
Thanks for letting me finish the talk.