Pastor Bill Neil
Here is the mantra for any child training seminar you will ever attend.
You will hear training defined many times as teach, guide, or instruct. All of these, indeed, are a part of child training, but that is not what the word train means in the Old Testament.
The word train is used only one time in the entire Bible, and in the Hebrew language it’s the word chanak, which means to narrow.
What our verse is literally saying is to “make narrow the way of a child.”
It is not the responsibility of the parent to reveal God to their children. Only God can do that. The primary task and challenge of every parent is to make narrow or limit the options of their children.
When I was a kid living in our trailer park, my options were: smoke something, drink something, or watch something. Now with today’s technology, increased moral decline, perversion in the schools, and family breakdown, kids are caught up in crime, immorality, and addictions much younger and deeper than I ever envisioned.
One of the greatest problems we face as Christian parents is what is being projected on our children. Our kids go to school and it is immediately projected on them who to hang out with, how to look, how to dress, how to act, even how to talk. School is all about projection, from the teachers to the students. What is projected on them in the home will help them to judge correctly throughout these crucial years of their lives.
Of course they will fail, but while they are in the home they should have the freedom to fail and experience the parent’s restoration.
Discipline. One of the most important features of training is the aspect of discipline. What is the difference between biblical discipline and much of the abuse we see around us, or maybe the abuse we experienced as a child?
Biblical discipline has the goal of instruction through loving restraint, whereas abuse has the goal of control through intimidation and cruelty. (e.g., screaming at the child; slapping, pushing and overpowering the child, etc.)
Biblical discipline is clothed in love and understanding.
“He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24 NKJV).
Restraint. Many good parents are worried about restraining their kids because they’re afraid they will lose them. If you got saved later in life when your kids were teens, then you are going to have to work them into this new life. But if your kids grew up in church and they begin to desire those things that are being projected on them, you generally will not lose them if you can help them see clearly.
In the Old Testament we have the story of Eli and his two sons. Eli was a priest and his sons were being immoral in the house of God.
“For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them” (I Samuel 3:13 NKJV).
Eli not restraining his sons was the main offense God counted against Eli, and Eli was judged – as was his house forever – for not restraining them.
How do I restrain them?
Set boundaries. Kids feel safe and secure within boundaries, because they know clearly what space is allowed for them to move in. Yes, they will test the boundaries – but establishing the boundaries is part of narrowing the way they should go. Kids feel insecure when they are disciplined or scolded for something that was not made clear.
Spanking. Some may say, “I love my child too much to spank him.” But the Scriptures say:
“He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24 NKJV).
“Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, But a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding” (Proverbs 10:13 NKJV).
It’s important to note that the word back (Hebrew: gev) here means middle of. The rod is to be used on the middle of the back or the “bum.”
“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15 NKJV).
“Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat/strike him with a rod, he will not die” (Proverbs 23:13 NKJV).
“You shall beat/strike him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell” (Proverbs 23:14 NKJV).
“The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15 NKJV).
First time obedience. This is the ultimate goal of the parent. This takes time and work. Remember the two enemies to proper parenting are pride and laziness. First time obedience takes time and patience.
Counting to ten doesn’t work. They know your word isn’t real until you get to nine.
Time out isn’t biblical discipline. This does not drive out foolishness, but it could give birth to something far more damaging: a feeling of rejection.
We must make the eighteen years we have with our kids count. We are all going to fail, as parents and children, but there must remain an open door to repentance and restoration.
We can do all the right things in the home, but what’s being projected on our kids outside the home must be dealt with.
Our nation desperately needs the next generation of Christians to be the real deal. Let’s be diligent to set them on the narrow path so they will have a chance for God to show Himself strong for them.
Written by Pastor Bill Neil