Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6 NLT
The result wasn’t what anyone who knew them expected.
Richey and Anthony were members of my father’s church when I was a teenager—as well as friends of mine. Richey was a model son—the kind any parent would be glad to have. He never drank, smoked, cursed, or lied to his parents. I looked up to him, but somehow couldn’t muster the courage to follow his example. Anthony was a good boy too, just not as well behaved as his older brother.
Even in high school, Richey seemed settled. One girlfriend the entire way through. We all knew they’d marry—and they did.
After high school, I lost track of Richey and Anthony … until I was called to preach homecoming at my father’s old church. The one they still attended. Only Richey wasn’t there. Anthony told my wife and me a story I had trouble comprehending. Richey and his wife had separated. Richey rarely attended church, and even though both brothers owned a mechanic shop together, Anthony did most of the work. Richey only came around sometimes.
Many parents cause themselves undue misery by claiming this and other proverbs as absolutes rather than norms, which God meant for them to be. Realizing the proverb is a norm doesn’t destroy the principle, however. My dad did the training, as did Richey and Anthony’s. Without the training, we were sure to walk the wrong path. My children haven’t always stayed on the straight and narrow path either, but I take comfort in knowing I’ve done the training.
I also leave the results to God. He, not me, is in control of my children—and grandchildren. He wields more power over them than I could ever hope to. Wisdom exudes from Him more than it does from me.
Dad felt guilty when I went astray. I didn’t when my children did. I didn’t wonder what people thought of me. I had reared them properly. Their decisions—good and bad—were exactly that: their decisions. Parents who do the training have no reason to feel guilt when their children make poor decisions.
And perhaps the most important thing when training children for life? Pray, pray, pray. Pray for wisdom. Pray for patience. Pray for God to do great things in your children’s lives. Pray for them to listen to God’s still small voice.
Train your children—and leave the results to God.
Prayer: Father, give us the wisdom to train our children in Your ways.
Tweetable: Are you undergoing training?