A few days ago I talked about my training as a runner and how it opened up to me a new meaning of the words “to train”. In light of this I wanted to look up the verses that I knew had these words in it.
The first one that came to mind was Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
I know in our family we often go through seasons of training. We’ll be very intent and diligent on training our kids in many things from table manners to talking to grown-ups to what we do with a kleenex after we blow our nose. (Seriously!!) And then without even noticing it we stop. Life just continues along and suddenly we notice ourselves getting more and more frustrated with our children. We expect certain things of them and they just aren’t complying.
It’s only then that we realize that our training has ceased. We may have told them a hundred and seven times that we stay seated when we’re eating dinner and that while spontaneous skits or dances are fun – it’s just not an appropriate time. But they forget. And so we remind.
This opens the verse in Proverbs up in a whole new light for me. That we need to train our children in the way they should go – that is, God’s way. And as I found with my running that doesn’t mean that we can teach them one day and then not again for a week and expect that they are in training. That’s sporadic teaching and not training at all.
By definition train means to to develop or form habits, thoughts, and behavior by discipline and instruction. It is to make proficient through practice. So when the bible speaks of training a child it is talking about every day, every hour, every minute, being in a state of training. Because even when I’m not running I’m still in training and that affects the foods that I eat, the amount of sleep that I get and the way I plan my week.
So it should be with our children and training them in godliness. (we can’t take for granted that the bible uses the word train and not teach!)This sort of training doesn’t just occur as we’re reading them a bible story or praying with them. It involves the choices we make every day, the words we speak, our actions and attitudes to them as well as the ones we display to others. It’s a constant training for a purpose. That being that when they are old they will not depart from it.
I think as it was with my running we can’t expect to train our children for just a little while and then pick up where we left off at a later time. Without diligence, practice, instruction and discipline they will be set back.
No pause button in training, remember?!