Parents Go First

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

If you’ve gone to church for some time or been around others who’ve been to church, you’ve probably heard this verse or some rendition of it. I’ve heard parents vent and seen them get so frustrated, wondering where they went wrong. They took their kids to church, they tried their best to raise them in the way they should go, but things are still out of control. I’ve heard parents quote this verse, hoping that their kids will come back to the Lord eventually. There is so much confusion surrounding this verse, but God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), the enemy is. I think we as parents genuinely want to raise our kids in the right way, we just don’t know practical, everyday steps to get there. I believe the bible is the best instruction book for life, so I want to take a look at this verse and some other verses, purely for what they says, not how I’ve heard others interpret it.

The first word in the verse is “Train”. We all know what it means to train. We’ve done it ourselves through sports, jobs, or other personal goals we’ve had in the past. I played a little bit of soccer in high school. If I missed a practice or decided to be lazy and not run on my own time the week of a game.. oohh I would be DEAD during the game. I’d be out of breath, I couldn’t run well, I couldn’t keep up with the competition… I would feel completely defeated afterwards. My lack of training had the potential to effect the entire team. If you only train once a week or less, you’re setting yourself up and the ones who depend on you for failure. OUCH. I don’t know about you but I relate to that on a spiritual level! When I expect only Sunday mornings to get me through, life happens, crap hits the fan that really tests my faith, and I hit rock bottom with seemingly no one to help me up. I’m literally incapable of being the wife, mom, friend, co-worker etc. I’m called to be when I’m not consistently training in my faith.

You may already know all of that and are wondering, “okay, what about our kids… this is suppose to be about them, right?” Well, I’ve only been a mom for 3 years but one thing I know is that kids learn by example and consistency. If only going to church once a week or less and barely reading my bible doesn’t work for me when life gets tough, how can I expect that to work for my kids? We limit our children’s potential for a great and strong relationship with the Lord by what we aren’t willing to do ourselves. How can we lead them to a place we’ve never been? If we want to successfully lead our kids, we’re going to have to train with them.

So what does that look like on an everyday basis? Let’s look at the next part of the verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go“. You have to decide what direction you want to train your children in. If you want to train them to be men and women after God’s heart, praise the Lord that you have that desire! The next step is to get involved in a church that loves God and loves people (Mark 12:30-31). Church isn’t the building, it’s the people. We aren’t meant to do life alone. If you don’t have others training in the same direction as you, loving you, encouraging you and being there to help you up when you cant do life on your own, you will eventually fizzle out. Your kids also need other adults and kids who will pour into them and are training in the same direction to keep them on track. People they can develop relationships with over time, who they can trust and who YOU can trust to speak life into them when life gets tough.

There isn’t a church service everyday, so how do you keep them engaged when it isn’t Sunday or Wednesday? Show them that the things of God matter by your actions. Kids are always going to ask questions about what you’re doing. Use their curiosity to your advantage! “Why are you reading that book? Why are you on your knees, talking to yourself? Why did you give money to that man on the side of the road?”. The things you choose to put your time into naturally stir up conversations with the anyone who is watching you. Explain why and encourage them to do it with you!

Get involved in other things your church is doing. At Revolution Church we have a “Grocery Store Blitz” once a month where the church meets at a local grocery store to purchase food for our food pantry. Every month I take my daughter with me so she sees that it’s a priority in our lives to help others in need (Isaiah 58:6-7). Revolution also has life groups, we go to someone’s house every week to have community and be poured into (Hebrews 10:25). I take her with me and explain why we go, even if she doesn’t completely understand it yet.

Our children literally learn everything by the things we do, how we do them and the attitude we have when we do them. Our words and actions must be consistent at home, out in the world, and at church. As parents who love the Lord, we are called to a higher standard because we aren’t only responsible for our own lives, but the lives and salvation of our children (younger or older).If we don’t lead the way in the direction we want them to go, they will follow someone else and it may not be the direction you hoped for.

And the lastly:  “even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Meaning if you train (dedicate, initiate the process, discipline, make experienced, prepare for a specific purpose, guide) your children in what the bible teaches, they wont turn from it now or when they get older. Not to say they wont have hard times, the bible tells us they’re coming (John 16:33). But when the hard times come, your children know where to go because they watched you do it first.

You may be thinking it’s too late for you. It’s never too late to dedicate yourself to the Lord for your own sake and for your family. God has the power to restore what the enemy has attempted to destroy (Joel 2:25). There is so much power in applying God’s word to your life, consistently creating opportunities to engage with your children about God, and training WITH them in this race we call life (Hebrews 12:1-2).

 

Kelsey
Revolution Kidz Coordinator