To Train up a Child in the way he should go…
When I read Prov 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it,I can’t help but remember some words from a Jewish Rabbi I read some time back. He was trying to relay the Hebrew mindset and how they understood this verse to be. Our mindset, as a society is very Greek. It is the way we think, we don’t even know we think this way.
The Hebrew mindset doesn’t compartmentalise areas of life – the Greek do. For example, the Hebrew sees work and worship as the same concept. In their work they worship their creator, who made them to work/worship (same word even). In our Greek mindset we go to work, and we go to church to worship! This then seems to set our identity. We are workers. We are worshippers.
It is the same in our family. We ask the question about our children, “Who did God make them be?” and we think in terms of career, we think in terms of being an adult.
When we read, “Train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it.” We need to think broader than our first thought.
Think Broader than we are used to:
In our Greek mindset we claim this verse for our children’s spiritual life. We want our children to follow our ways, to follow our faith, to follow in our love of our God. That is good and proper! And I do not want to remove that interpretation at all! God speaks to us through His Scriptures and gives us promises.
What I would like to do though is to see if we can start thinking Hebrew! When we ask ourselves, “Who are my children? Who did God make them be?” Lets see if we can think outside of careers, outside of being an adult and start to focus on the now, on the miracle of God making these children and God having a purpose – a purpose that is for the now and for the future.
According to what I have read, the Hebrews take this scripture “Train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it” in terms of their whole being. There is no distinction between their faith life, their family life, their career, their social life, and their recreation.
Train up a Child – It is training in every compartment of life.
Jewish parents believe that God made this little baby; He made him complete, with a purpose, with gifts and talents. They believe that it is their duty, as good parents:
- to understand the gifts and talents God has put in their child and
- to train in the purpose God has for their child.
Therefore the Scripture – Train up a child in the way he should go – incorporates:
- the faith he should go
- the career he should go
- the family life he should go
- the social life he should go etc…
The whole being of this child is to be trained in the way that God has set out for him – when he was made in secret! See how our Greek mindset comes into it even while trying to explain this Hebrew mindset. We cannot seem to get a grip on the whole child without breaking it down into parts.
God’s purposes include every area of life:
I like to see this in terms of he will not depart from the plans and purpose God has for him.
In order to train our children for the way he should go; the purpose God has for him, we need to understand what that purpose is. Two ways we can receive this:
1- The Bible states what is right for man – regardless of nationality, regardless of gifts and talents, regardless of birth order and personality! So therefore, we can take the whole of scriptures and use it as our training manual and we will be on the way to training our children so that they do not depart from God’s purpose for them. Eg. It is God’s purpose for man to know him, it is God’s purpose for us to love one another, it is God’s purpose for us to love and obey Him, to go out and make disciples, etc. … therefore we are to train our children to be able to do this. Are we training our children to be disciple-makers?
2- The second way I believe we can understand God’s purpose for our children is to pray; to ask Him and to listen to what He has to say to us. There may be several ways that He speaks to you – He may give you a Scripture, He may whisper something to your heart, something maybe said in conversation or in a sermon. I often reflect on the little phrase “and Mary hid these things in her heart”. God gave her a glimpse of who her son would be. I believe God can do that for us to. God can show us the uniqueness in each of our children, and he can then give us the wisdom that is needed to allow that uniqueness to flourish.
[Tweet “What has God put on your heart regarding your child? Train him up in that way.”]
The training of our children, the teaching their heart, the training their responses – does not have to be a haphazard thing – we don’t have to just go with the whims and fads of society, we don’t have to copy the traditions of our own family; we can choose to teach our kids the things that God has put on our hearts. Some of that will be the same for each and every child – some of it will be unique as each child has a different way of responding to life.
As we set out to train up our children in the Lord’s way, let it be consistent with what the Lord has for each of them.