[My wife and I raised our five children to be strong Christians who are married to strong Christians. And our eleven grandchildren are being shown the way to follow Jesus Christ too.]
People are dismissive of the promise in Pro. 22:6. I am not, but hear me out before drawing conclusions. The Proverb says to “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Comebacks include, “But they have free will! But so many good Christians have unbelieving children. You can’t make people become Christian.” Aside from these and other legitimate points, there is reason to believe that with God’s helpful wisdom, you will bring your children up to walk with Him. The reason people are doubtful or questioning the Pro. 22 promise might be because they see so little success in parents raising their children to walk with the LORD. The stats don’t look good. Instead of listening to the excuses and worrying over the stats, trust God and be the parent God calls you to be.
Here’s a truth: All parents influence their children. When your children grow up, you will have imprinted on them. People will look at them and say, “You are like your parents.” All parents are “training up their children”, but they don’t always train the children in the way they SHOULD go. The children are malleable clay, empty containers, and the clay is going to be shaped and the containers will be filled. How and with what is of great importance to God.
In a way, bringing them up to be dedicated Christians is simple. If you really love God, and if you really love precious souls, you are going to imprint that on your children. Likewise, if you really like money, and if you tend to focus on the externals, then you imprint on your children that that is what’s really important. It’s your passion that counts. Either way, you have trained the children but only one is the right way they should go.
Little children need to see faith in their parents. Little children need quality and quantity time from their parents. The focus in the home needs to be a God-centered focus. If parents are preaching the Gospel of Hockey and the Gospel of Popularity MORE than they are the Gospel of Jesus they hear for an hour on Sunday morning, then the parents are training up their children and they children will go the way the parents emphasized the most. I say this is the easy part of parenting, because it has to do with the parents taking care of their own personal faith in God. This is what each person is in charge of and can affect immediately.
But bringing up the child in the way he should go is also hard. The child is an individual, a human being, with a will of its own that will be exercised! This is normal, but the exercise of that will won’t always, often in fact, be guided by personal wisdom. Parents teach the children a myriad of lessons like, “Don’t touch that, it will hurt you! Eat this, your body needs it. Share, don’t be selfish. Yes, you have a bedtime and don’t get out of bed again. Did you brush your teeth? Don’t lie and cry “wolf” or your words will be worthless. Do your chores, everybody pulls their weight around here.”
You parents are the wisdom that guides and shapes the child’s will. This is the hard part where two wills clash. My experience is that the majority of parents are unwise not understanding their role, they don’t have a vision of where to take their children as adult Christians, they have desires for their children that are materialistic, and they are just plain weak so that they bend and give in and bargain when the resistance begins. The parents don’t want to admit it, but they are training up their child to go the wrong way. They want to say they trained their children up to go the right way, but they continually said one thing while teaching their children the importance of so many useless things.
People hear these words and get hurt feelings. They take it personally, especially if their children are grown or if they appear to be heading in the wrong direction, and so they look for excuses. My point is not to hurt anyone and God knows none of us are perfect parents. So pray. Just pray to be the very best example you can be. Fight for your children’s souls. Without compromise.
Will you go to war to save your children’s souls? Will you suffer the loss of everything you have to save their souls? Will you move to remove evil influences from your childrens’ lives? Will you throw away the thing in your home that you know in your heart is a stumbling block to your children? When you have been imperfect as a parent, will you shed your pride and apologize to your children? How bad do you want for your children to go to heaven?
Humbly yours, Dan