“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
“We just want to see the mother,” were words spoken by two strangers who startled my mother by walking into her hospital room just hours after giving birth to me. There was obviously talk around the hospital of a new baby with white hair and pink eyes. And although their words were unsettling and a bit rude, her instincts were to protect, defend, love and care for her baby, born with albinism.
My mother protected and cared for me, but she did not shelter me or debilitate me with her coddling. I am sure she spent many hours in prayer asking the Lord to give her the wisdom and strength to be my mother. She encountered extra challenges in my childhood years and wrestled with many concerns about my future. She was a single mom for all my teenage years, which could not have been easy for her, and I did not make it easy on her, I’m sure. As much love and attention as she gave me, she also encouraged and allowed me to explore and find my place in this world. She pushed when I needed to be pushed and inspired me when I needed inspiration. She sacrificed a lot for me.
Although my disability hindered me at times, my mother never did. When others tried to shelter me for my protection, she tried to protect me from their sheltering. When others said it was impossible, she said anything is possible with the Lord. When others hurt me with their cruel words, her loving words soothed me. When others tried to make my choices for me, she always asked me and respected what I wanted. When others discouraged me, she encouraged me. When others treated me differently, she never noticed the differences.
The word “train,” in Proverbs 22:6 is the word for “dedicate.” We are to actively set apart our children to godliness. “The way” is the proper way of wisdom. It is the path of wise godly living according to the truth of Scripture and not according to popular child psychologists, social norms, or even the latest trends in parenting. Parents are exhorted to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4), in hope that when he is old, he will not depart from it. We need to give them a solid foundation on the Word of God, and help our children develop a personal relationship with the Lord. Children are a gift from the Lord (Ps. 127:3). God has given us the privilege and responsibility to raise and care for His children. We need to be committed to training them in the way they should go.
This verse is an exhortation to parents to do all they can to develop a moral compass of Biblical Truth within the heart of their children and to teach them about God. It is up to the child if he/she receives it. It is your responsibility to put your children on the right path, and then pray for them to continue on that godly path.
You are not a perfect parent, and you will fail. You need to extend to your children the grace God gives to you by not demanding perfection from them or become discouraged when they fall short of your expectation. God pursues His children and never gives up on them; we should do the same for our children.
You cannot protect your children as well as the Lord will protect them. You will not always be present in their lives, but the Lord will, so help them to desire a personal relationship with the Lord. Be very careful not to manipulate, guilt, or attempt to control the lives of your children in order to get the expected outcome you desire. Be mindful of your own sin nature and especially your pride in thinking you always know what is best for your children. You can reflect God’s character when you love, forgive, show grace and mercy to them, but you do not possess God’s sovereignty or providence to know God’s will for them.
“Successful parenting is not about achieving goals (that you have no power to produce) but about being a usable and faithful tool in the hands of the One who alone is able to produce good things in your children.” – Paul Tripp
As I sit and contemplate the lessons learned from my own mother, I have compiled a short list of parenting proverbs according to Scripture she instilled in me:
- Let them fail…so they can learn perseverance. (James 1:12)
- Let them work…so they can learn responsibility. (Prov. 13:4)
- Let them make choices…so they can learn accountability. (Rom. 14:12)
- Let them hurt…so they can learn forgiveness. (Col. 3:12-13)
- Let them love…so they can learn to think of others. (Gal. 5:13)
- Let them be proud…so they can learn humility. (Prov. 29:23)
- Let them feel pain…so they can learn empathy. (2 Cor. 1:3-4)
- Let them be independent…so they can learn to be dependent on God. (Ps. 34:4)
- Let them bear the consequences…so they can learn discernment. (Heb. 12:11)
- Let them struggle…so they can learn to trust God. (Prov. 16:20)
Train them up, let them fly and pray for the Lord to mold their hearts so that you can echo John’s words,
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 4)
Understanding the need for women to seek trusted Biblical counsel rather than suffering in silence, and from her own personal experiences, Kim submitted to the Lord’s leading to become a Biblical counselor. She has a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in Social work (1995), a certification from ACBC (2011), as well as a master’s degree from Maranatha Baptist University in Biblical counseling (2019). She is committed, through counseling, to help women understand the importance of good theology as it relates to all of life’s issues.
Kim has been married and serving alongside her husband at Crosspointe Baptist Church for over 25 years. They have two sons, Bryce and Austyn, who are the delight of Kim’s heart. Now that they have flown the coop, she finds herself with more time to enjoy a cup of coffee, a good book, and long walks and bike rides with her loving husband.