Thursday, March 4, 2021

Training Up

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Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

[Proverbs 22:6; NKJV]

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Today I received several photographs of my grandkids from my daughter, and looking at them I was so proud – of my daughter and her husband. Yes, I’m very proud to be related in any way to those kids, and I’m blessed beyond measure just knowing them, but much credit has to be given to their parents, for they have been consciously and consistently doing all they can to raise them up in the admonition of the Lord, and it shows. With many families, the exact opposite shows…why is that?

For much of my career, I was engaged with training recruits on the job, and I’m sure I learned more in the process than they did. It usually works that way. If you want to learn something, teach it. One thing I learned was that each person I trained was a unique individual, with differing strengths, weaknesses and blind spots in their personalities. My job was to not only help them play to their strengths, but strengthen their weaknesses, and my overriding reason was so someday they would be able to stand on their own and learn their own lessons. Some that I taught were unteachable because of their pride and innate arrogance, and others were so timid I practically had to kick them into action, when action was needed. As an aside, the unteachable ones seldom lasted on the job.

With my trainees, I knew they were ready to “graduate” from the training program when two things coincided: first, they had satisfactorily completed the mandated curriculum, and second, they had learned all they could learn from me and had to move on to learn their own lessons with experience as their teacher. Most of them eventually reached the point where they simply had to make their own mistakes in order to continue making forward progress, and it is the same with our children. To parents, this can feel like cruel mercies, but it must be done.

All parents are imperfect, and we are all thrust into parenthood with our mistakes and shortcomings intact, but our motivation should be to raise our children to be stand-alone, strong people of God. It is very critical that we force them (yes, ‘force them’) to rely first on God. Consequently, they must be weaned away from relying primarily on their parents. Sure, we will help all we can, and one element of the word ‘train’ in proverbs is discipline, but at some early age it is a parent’s job to push the child away, in a spiritual sense, and onto God, for He is the One entrusting the child to the parents. These are truly His children, entrusted for a time to us.

It would be pointless for me to expect secular parents to impart spiritual truths to their offspring, and it would be foolish for me to think they would be able to do so, but those parents who are believers need to distance themselves from any secular approaches to child-rearing. We are different than the world, and our children should exhibit the same imprint.

As believers, we should teach our children at early ages how to handle rejection in God’s way, because they’ll pressure their parents to conform to the world at every opportunity. They know that blending in with society, and not being “different”, is the key to “getting along”, but ultimately this approach will weaken them and retard their growth in God.

Many parents pay lip service to how foolish it is to spoil their children by giving them everything, but few also realize that without a Godly snub every now and then, children will become over-dependant on their parents as their primary emotional source, and this is just as deadly or worse. I’ve known many adults whose lives were perpetually messed up because they developed a life long co-dependency with their parents. It can become a very strong and debilitating trap. Try counseling someone who is an adult and still dependent on their parents…difficult to impossible, in most cases, to find any light at the end of that tunnel.

I suppose it goes without saying that in order to train up our children in the way they should go, presupposes parents know the way themselves. Parents are held responsible in the eyes of God for knowing the way, then training their children in it. Ignorance is no excuse at the celestial court. No, parents aren’t perfect and many have glaring faults, but God is perfect and has no faults. It is imperative that our children learn from their parents how to approach the One Who always gets it right.

I’m grateful my daughter and her husband love God with all their hearts. God can and will, work within the framework of their shortcomings to glorify Himself in the lives of their children, for they are training up their children in the way they should go.

It is His promise.


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