What does it mean to TRAIN up a child? Proverbs 22:6
Updated: Jan 23
I have come across many who are confused about this wisdom given to us by Solomon. They say things like, 'I don't understand, we took them to church,' or 'I disciplined my children, but they want nothing to do with God anymore.' There are so many scenarios, the youth are walking away from the faith in droves...and it's because we as 'parents' and we as the 'church' have neglected this verse.
So, what does it mean to train up a child in the way they should go? In the wisdom literature of Proverbs, king Solomon inspired by the Spirit wrote, "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). This is wisdom with a promise, do this and that will happen. Firstly, the word 'train' is a focal point. The child must be trained in the way that he should go. If you wanted your child to be a successful sports star you would train them rigorously in that 'WAY.' Likewise, if you want your child to know the LORD God, you are to diligently 'train' them in that 'WAY!' The ONLY TRUE way any person should go is given to us in the Scriptures, it is the way to God and to righteous living. Thus, the primary source of training the child is to be taken out of the inspired Scriptures, which should be taught and modeled diligently to the children, this is the way to make the child wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 2 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 6:4).
A whole lot more time needs to be spent on this subject, so why not begin now?
The way they SHOULD GO
There is only "THE way" a child should be trained to go. Only 'one' proper and good way, and that way is the way of God declared to us in the Scriptures. There are many ways NOT to train a child and there are many ways a child should NOT go. The easiest and simplest training method, which is most common for parents today is to do NOTHING.
If you want a child to go in whichever way they want then do nothing. Yet, don't start grumbling and complaining when they go their own way. They are only going the way that is natural to them and the way that "OTHERS" trained them to go because you were not willing to train them in the way they SHOULD go!
We must remember that because of sin which dwells in the flesh (Romans 7:18) children are born with a natural desire to suppress the truth (Romans 1:18) and choose evil (Genesis 6:5; 8:21). Naturally if you let the child choose the way for themselves it will be the incorrect way.
Children need to be trained to "choose" the correct way for themselves. This "choosing" will come from instruction and modeling. Instruction from the source of truth, the Scriptures (All 66 books of the Bible), and modeling of the Christian life (a humble walk with God).
You must not allow the child to choose their natural way at any point in time. This is a part of the training process, you're training your child to choose what is right (what is unnatural to them) rather than what is wrong and sinful (what is natural to them).
Will you receive pushback from the child: fits of anger and hostility, evil looks and nasty tones, blatant disobedience? Absolutely! Should these behaviors dictate your response to them? BY NO MEANS! The children will act in these sinful manners, they will lie, deceive, fight, and use any other means they can to go the 'way' they desire.
Yet, this is NOT the way they SHOULD go!
"Train them in the way that is Scriptural and right, and not in the way that they desire. -JC Ryle, The Duties of Parents, 7.
There is only 'ONE' way children SHOULD go and they will fight against that way. Which is why we must train them to go that way! Just like to be healthy you must forsake your wants of sugar and laziness and train yourself to eat correctly and exercise. You must train the child to go the right way, which is the Scriptural way.
The sole source and foundation of all truth are the Scriptures, God's Word, and yes it has everything we need for life and godliness.
"All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man or woman of God may be fully capable, equipped for every good work." -2 Timothy 3:16-17
Some regard the Scriptures as antiquated and outdated today... They couldn't be more incorrect. We have been given instruction for EVERYTHING we need in this life. Including raising children.
In fact, just before 2 Timothy 3:16, the Apostle Paul was reminding Timothy of the importance of the Scriptures by emphasizing their role in Timothy's early life.
"You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." -2 Timothy 3:14-15
Timothy from his youth was instructed in the truth, the truth of the knowledge of God which came from the Old Testament. His mother taught him the truth from "childhood." What truth? The "sacred writings" of the Scriptures. What do they teach? They are able to give "the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus!"
This is the "way" we as parents are to lead our children to. To a fear of God and reverence of the Scriptures, which leads to faith in Christ Jesus. This is the work of the parents, to diligently instruct their children into the truth, "His Word is truth" (John 17:17; Psalm 119:160).
Yes, you heard me correctly, it is the parent's responsibility to train, instruct, and guide. It isn't the church's job nor the teacher's job it is the parent's responsibility.
“Hear, Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. And you shall repeat them diligently to your sons and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk on the road, when you lie down, and when you get up. You shall also tie them as a sign to your hand, and they shall be as frontlets on your forehead. You shall also write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." -Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Who does this Scripture command to instruct the "sons" (children)? The command is given to the parents, the heads of the households of Israel.
Where were they to instruct their children? In their homes, on the road, when lying down, and when rising up. In other words in all situations, at all times, everywhere parents are to instruct their children.
How are they to instruct their children? With their mouths and their lives, as well as through written testimony wherever it can be placed.
What are they to instruct their children? That there is only one true God and He is Lord (Master). That our duty as His subjects is to love Him with every fiber of our being at all moments and in all places of our daily lives.
Lest you say, well this is instruction for Israel and not me as a parent today, Ephesians 6:4,
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Fathers, do what?
Neglect your children?
Train them in sports?
Give them over to others to be taught?
No, no, no! By no means, any of the above. Bring your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord! Train them in the way they should go! In the way given to us in the Scriptures. Yes, instruct them and discipline them every moment of every second of every day in every place to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Fathers need to lead
Yes, fathers do this. It is instruction for both parents but especially fathers! Men need to lead their families. As a rebuke to us men, God has raised up women to raise our children and lead the family because we have failed. Let it no longer be said of you and your household that your wife is the spiritual leader.
Pick up your Bible and read, meet with older wiser men for instruction, and get training from your pastor (who should be leading his household). The point is, that men need to lead their wives and their children to know the Lord through the Scriptures and in the power of the Holy Spirit. We have no excuses for our ineptitude and failure to obey the commandments given to men to lead.
God has given us everything we need, we have simply disobeyed. Make a commitment today to the Lord, to yourself, and to your family that says, "I choose this day to serve my God by leading my family towards the true knowledge of God, given to us in the Scriptures."
Stop making excuses, 'well my wife knows more than me." Then study harder. 'I've neglected my family for so long that they disrespect me.' Then ask for forgiveness and make a commitment to them to lead. 'Well, I don't know how.' Then read the Scriptures to find out how, ask your pastor to guide you, and pray for the Lord to be your help in this.
There is no excuse for us parents. It is our responsibility to train (diligently lead) our children to the source of eternal salvation, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 5:9). To the way that they should go, to God. We are to do this by instructing them consistently and constantly through the Scriptures, as we confront their sinful and evil ways with righteousness and truth.
Teaching them always through instruction and life that there is One God, One Lord, One Savior, and He must be the supreme object of our affections! For we are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37).
We are to do this in humility and meekness as we search the Scriptures for instruction, knowledge, and wisdom. That in every circumstance we as parents who seek the Lord first, are able to point our Children to the way that they should go, to God the Father in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.