Proverbs 22:6 (ESV): Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
I remember one phrase being repeated over and over when I was at Marine Corps recruit training ages ago. “You practice the way you play.” You’ve probably heard that saying or something similar to it. I can’t tell you the amount of movies that I’ve seen where military or police are told “Remember your training!” Why is that so important?
The reality is, we default back to how we have trained when we face a test in life. And if we don’t train, we don’t know what to do when faced with that test. Our mission as parents is to raise children who will at some point be adults, living on their own. We are to use every means we have at our disposal to lead them and guide them to know what to do when that time comes.
I was recently talking to someone who was having a hard time and a scripture came to mind. I shared it with them and they were surprised that I so quickly recalled something from memory like that. Why do we study scripture and commit it to heart if not to be able to recall it when needed? If our foundation is Christ, if we center our lives on His Word, we will have something to turn to to remind us of who He is.
And so we lead our children in that same way. Teaching them to follow Christ, to trust in God with all things, and to remember His promises. The Israelites were admonished to train their children by using every moment as a teachable one, to talk about the Lord frequently, to remember the things that he had done. It’s not all about sitting down at the table for family devotions, though that is a good part of the family rhythm. If that was all we did, we would miss a lot of great opportunities when real life is happening to point to God and train our children to look to him.
We also train our children through our example. They're watching how we interact with other people, how will deal with the stresses of life, how much we put our trust in God, how to steward what He's given us. All of these things are vitally important to the formation of our childrens' image of how to live. We're training them everyday, intentionally or unintentionally. It's a great responsibility and we're not on our own in doing it.
The ultimate results of how our kids turn out is not up to us. We have a job to do, but it's the Holy Spirit who will work in them and shape them. Let's make sure we set them up on the right path to be sensitive to His presence.