Daily Devotional

Training Our Children

Proverbs 22:6 - “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (ESV)

This is one of the best-known and most-quoted verses in the Bible on parenting.  

On the surface there is a precious promise here: if we train our children in the ways of the Lord, when they get older they will not depart from the faith.  But what about the kids who do wander away from the Lord and seemingly never return?

First of all, it’s important to remember that a proverb is not a promise.  It’s a wise principle that when followed generally holds true.  So this is not a guarantee that all our children will be saved if we just do a good job discipling them.

Second, did you know there is another way of interpreting this verse?

The Hebrew word for “train” (ḥānaḵ) means to dedicate.  The word conveys the sense of setting something aside for a special purpose.

And the phrase “in the way he should go” can be translated “according to his natural bent” or “in accordance with his nature.”

According to this view, the proverb highlights the fact that each child is wonderfully unique, created by God with a one-of-a-kind personality, gifts, talents, abilities, and natural inclinations.  For example, some are athletes.  Others are academic, musical, artistic, compassionate or servant-hearted.  

Therefore, the job of a wise parent is to understand his child’s unique bent, and nurture his strengths in a way that instills a lifelong passion and purpose for serving the Lord.

If this view is correct, it means that we need to understand our children better, so we can help them find their calling and become the men and women God created them to be.  

To that end, here are 10 questions John Maxwell says every parent should be able to answer about their child.  If you don’t already know, I encourage you to find the answers, write them down, and allow those insights to guide the way you pray for your children.

1. What gives my child joy?
2. Who is my child’s hero?
3. What does my child fear the most?
4. What activities give my child energy?
5. What activities wear my child out?
6. If my child got to choose this year’s vacation, where would they want to go?
7. If my child could pick one activity for me to do with him, what would it be?
8. What kind of music does my child like?
9. Other than going to school or sleeping, what does my child spend the most time doing each week?
10. What does my child want to be when he or she grows up?
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.