As a parent my greatest desire is to see my son grow up loving, honoring, and serving the Lord. We read the Bible and pray together almost every night. We take him to church a couple of times a week. We try to explain to him that the way we treat others is a direct reflection of our relationship with God. We want him to understand the difference between cultural morality and living out the Christian life. We want to teach him that his life is to be lived as a demonstration of his love for God.
We are prayerfully seeking God’s wisdom to raise our son up in the ways of the Lord; however, there is no guarantee he will obey or continue in these teachings. As a pastor I have seen too many parents broken because of the choices of their children. They were godly parents and yet somewhere along the way their children departed from the godly path.
Because of this, parents often ask me about Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” They feel like they held up their end by raising the child the right way, but now that same son or daughter wants nothing to do with God, Jesus, or the church. These parents just want to know what they did wrong or if there is anything they can do to fix the situation.
This morning I found a few insightful thoughts on D.A. Carson’s blog in regard to this verse. Dr. Carson writes: “The proverb ‘Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it’ (Prov. 22:6) is so well known that it cries out for comment. Recall that a proverb is neither case law nor unqualified promise (review meditation for March 23). When children go wrong, very often the careful observer can spot familial reasons that have contributed to the rebellion. But this is not always the case. Sometimes young people from evidently wonderful families kick the traces. Some return years later; some never do. Good families may produce prodigal sons. This proverb must not be treated as if it were a promise that fails periodically. Rather, it is a proverb: it tells how God has structured reality, and what we should do to conform to it. This is the principle of how families work; it includes no footnotes and mentions no exceptions.”
As parents we are going to make mistakes in raising our children. However, if we strive to honor God in the raising of our kids, if we set the Word, the commands, and ways of God before them, and if we try to be a living example of all we teach then we can rest knowing that we did our best. There comes a time when our kids must choose which path they will take. Yes it is heartbreaking when they make terrible choices, but as their parents we will still have opportunities to use our authority to influence them in the right direction. But in the end they must choose which path of life to follow.
Regardless of the age of our kids, there are few ways we can continue to train them up in the ways of the Lord. First, pray for them. Pray for their wisdom, holiness, and even conviction of sin. We can also lovingly and gently offer advice. If they are receptive, sit down with them and share your concerns. And finally, love them. My past is littered with mistakes the I believe greatly disappointed my parents; however, I always knew they loved me. It was their reflecting the unconditional love of God that helped lead me to repentance and a godly Christ-like life.
So parents do your part in putting children on the right course. Then entrust them into the hands of God knowing that He will never give up on drawing them to Himself.