Meditations by John Dean

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Training a Child

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

After teaching on this scripture for so many years I have come to the conclusion that there is not a specific formula for training children because each child is different. For example, some parents have well behaved obedient children even though they themselves are not the best examples. Other parents are like saints but their children are rebellious and disobedient.

It would be unfair in either case for the parents to actually take credit or blame for how their children turned out. One cannot say, “My child turned out well because I loved them and gave them attention,” any more than another parent can say “My child is rebellious because I did not show enough love and attention.”

Does that in any way negate the truth of our text? No!

Or text says the responsibility of the parents is to “Train up a child in the way they should go,” it did not say that they are then responsible for how they turn out. The blessing and hope for the parent is where it says, “When they are old they will not depart from it.” The question then becomes…how much time is there between training and old?

I had an experience the other day that caused me to rethink my whole predetermined opinions on child rearing. I suppose without thinking about it I thought because our text was in the Bible that it was only instructions for the Christian. It never occurred to me that our text was more than just instructions…it is a principle that will work for anyone.

As I was flying home the other day from a speaking engagement I sat across the aisle from an elderly couple and their son. The elderly couple looked to be of Iranian decent and well into their eighties. Their son looked to be in his late forties or early fifties and seemed to have the look and mannerisms of a doctor.

I was so intrigued by this family because of the way the son served and cared for his parents. I watched every move the son made for the next three and a half hours as he tirelessly served his parents. He took each of them to the bathroom several times during the trip. He was continually getting things down from the overhead luggage compartment for them and making sure their every need was met. I not only watched how he served his parents, but also his expressions.

He never gave the impression that he was only serving them out of duty. He gave the impression that he was serving them out of a deep natural love. I also watched his parent’s expressions as they were being served and there was no indication of them feeling they were a burden to their son. They seemed too sat there in peace and expectancy knowing that their son’s service to them was right.

I came to the conclusion at the end of the three and a half hour flight home that one cannot train a child to serve this way. There is something much deeper going on in that child than just reacting out of good training.

I also decided that each parent probably gives the very best they can considering their age and maturity level. The fact is, God is the only one who can make up for any parent shortfalls and inabilities in training children.

Help all parents to train up their children in the way they should go, but especially the single parents. Those who work tirelessly to provide food, clothing and shelter and are only able to spend very little quality time at home. Father make up for the shortfalls.

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