By doing a quick search on how to train up a child in the Lord, you will come across Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Is this “training a child up in the Lord” possible? Is this verse a promise?
Nearly every Christian parent has asked…
- How do I train up my child in the Lord?
- What does “train up a child” mean?
- Can I control the future of my children?
What parents don’t want their children to make wise choices and enjoy a great life? One of the most well-known verses about parenting is Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
For parents, this verse conveys “a sense” of a promise from God that it is possible to affect the future of their children in a positive way. Rather than an uncertain, desperate hope that children turn out okay, there is something a parent can actually do to help determine the outcome of their children’s life.
Parenting Can Be Confusing!
Parents can be under a lot of pressure, and while research and best practice techniques can provide excellent tools, the amount of information available to parents can be overwhelming. Sometimes the information available to parents can seem somewhat confusing and contradictory, such as…
- “Research has shown that engaged parenting helps children build cognitive and emotional skills. Too much parental direction, however, can sometimes be counterproductive.”
Proverbs 22:6 | What the Bible Says About Parenting
So why is Proverbs 22:6 so well-known and often quoted as a method of childrearing? It deals with something we value highly, children, and it also deals with something we all long to control, the future.
For parents, I am sure nothing would rank higher in importance than a guarantee regarding the future well-being of their children.
This proverb creates tension within most of us between the reality and a knowledge that God’s Word is true. We know there are no guarantees regarding the future, especially with our children, yet God promises something regarding children and the future.
So, what exactly does it mean to “train up a child in the Lord,” and is there a definitive promise in this proverb?
We All Have a Role in “How to Train Up a Child in the Lord”
First, Proverbs 22:6 contains truth that pertains to a larger audience than just parents. As a grandparent, I desire that my grandchildren’s future be secure regarding how they live their lives.
For every teacher, coach, daycare worker, etc., there is a sense that we should all know how to train up a child in the Lord in the way they should go.
This proverb applies to parents but also all of us as we all have relationships with children.
As community of believers, we can all take ownership of how to train up a child in the Lord. This is a truth found throughout Scripture.
In the Old Testament, the word for family, mishpacha, blurred the distinction between family and community.
This does not mean that any group of people have a greater influence when training up a child than parents, but it does imply we all have a role in how to train up a child in the Lord.
This Reality Informs Parenting Decisions | Training in Wisdom
For parents, this reality should inform parenting decisions. Training in wisdom is a process shared by all of us.
- First, it can give some assurance that the entire burden of how to train up a child in the Lord doesn’t rest on the parents alone. This can be especially comforting for a single parent who feels the pressure to be everything to his or her children.
- Second, parents must be intentional about providing other opportunities for their children to be trained up in the Lord.
This also means that we all have a responsibility, as God allows, to be involved in training up children and to teach them diligently.
This would apply to the empty nester, those who have never had children, those who volunteer at school and church, those who provide support to foster parents, etc., train up children that are not their own.
We all have a part to play when it comes to children.
God Loves Children and Highly Values Them | This Includes You
I remember attending a Sunday School class as a child and singing the song “Jesus Loves the Little Children.”
I think the first “church” song I learned was “Jesus Loves Me.” This didn't come across as a huge theological breakthrough at three or four years old.
I had two parents who loved me, and I was a typical child who believed the entire universe revolved around me, my desires, and my needs.
Why wouldn’t God love me?
However, with time we all learn that love for children is easier said than done, and for many of us, reality sits in with the time that we were not loved by the ones who should have loved us the most. We are left with a couple of questions…
- Why wasn’t I loved?
- What is wrong with me?
The reality is you were and are loved by God, and until that sinks in, you will struggle to give love away to other children.
Psalm 127:3 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” The word heritage means an inheritance of great value. You were loved as a child by God, and God loves the children that are in your life.
In Luke 18:15-17, people brought infants to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them. While we in the 21st century might find the image of Jesus holding babies sweet and endearing, in the Greco-Roman society in Palestine in the first century, children were viewed as lowly and of little importance.
The disciples of Jesus actually rebuked people for bringing their children to Jesus!
Let that sink in for a second.
It was Jesus’ disciples rebuking people for wanting their children to come to Jesus. Jesus actually corrects His disciples in front of the people and asks for the children to come to Him.
Jesus then uses the children as an example of the kingdom of God and how someone enters the kingdom. If God values children this much, it is no surprise that He would care deeply about how they are trained up.
Want to know more about biblical parenting principles and how to have a Christ-centered home? Check out more of our resources here.
- How to Have a Christ-Centered Home
- Understanding Biblical Parenting Principles
- How to Lead a Bible Study for Kids
Have more questions about parenting or growing your faith? We want to help you find answers. Connect with us here and get resources to help you move forward in your faith journey.
Dr. Jeff Cox currently serves as the Wellness Pastor at Abundant Life Church, where he oversees Abundant Life Counseling Center and Abundant Life Leadership Institute (ALLI). Jeff is passionate about inspiring and equipping future leaders and counselors to be emotionally well, theologically centered, and influentially leveraged. Jeff is a graduate of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a DMin in Counseling and Calvary Theological Seminary with a MA in Theology.