"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Is Proverbs 22:6 a promise? If so, why does it sometimes seem to not work? What does that verse really say? What does it mean to “train up”? The Hebrew word “chanak” translated “train up” is in the imperative mood, a mood that expresses an intention to influence the listener's behavior and refers to a duty that is essential and urgent.
To train might be best understood by comparing it to an animal trainer. The man who trains a tiger has to start while the animal is still very young. The task requires a long term practical and personal commitment on the part of the trainer and the animal as to the desired responses and behavior. Thus training our children is not just reading Bible stories to them, but rather it is the personal and practical application of God’s WAY OF LIFE that is explained and illustrated in the Bible. As they grow seek to make them more and more dependent upon God and less upon you. If you just impose your convictions on them they may hate you and rebel.
Proverbs 22:6 states: “Train up a child in THE WAY they should GO – not just KNOW, but GO. Don’t just load them down with the rules, regulations and ritual of your religion, but dedicate yourself and your child to the biblical way of life. Early Christians were known as followers of THE WAY. Jesus said, “I am THE WAY” (John 14:6). What was His WAY of life? He spent much time in the Word (He used Scripture against the devil) and He spent much time with the Father. He said, “I live by the Father” (John 6:57) and “the Father [is] in me, and I in him” (John 10:38). Jesus said, “I always do the things that please the Father.”
The Father was in the Son and did His work through the Son. So also Jesus lives in believers and does His work through us. Paul wrote “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Dad, you are to dedicate yourself and your children to learning the biblical way of life. Not just Bible stories, but how those Bible testimonies have applied to your life and helped you in your walk with God. You might want to adapt the following suggestions to your own personal situation.
GOALS FOR INTENSIVELY TRAINING YOUR CHILDREN
1. How you came to know Christ and how your son or daughter also can know Christ personally.
2. How you feed on God’s word and how they can do the same so you can share together what God is teaching you both.
3. How the indwelling Holy Spirit can open our eyes to the meaning of Scripture and give us peace in our heart about what He is directing us to do. “Let the peace of God rule in your heart” (Colossians 3:15). The will of God is good, acceptable, and perfect, so our goal is to go to God and find His will (Romans 12:1-2).
4. Your goal is that they make a transition (depending on their maturity) from childhood (obey your father and mother) to adulthood (honor your father and mother). As they go to God for direction and then honor their father and mother by adding their wisdom and experience to the decision- making process, they know that the decision is theirs to make. They may make mistakes, but so have you, so you may have opportunity to share with them how you have learned from your mistakes. They will also make many good decisions and you will experience the truth of Proverbs 23:24; “The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice”.
5. It is crucial that they learn to go to God in prayer, search the Scriptures and find the will of God for the decisions they need to make. As you work with them and they see how God opens up Scripture and directs their path and gives assurance by sensing the peace of the Holy Spirit, they will be so excited with the blessings of going to God for their every need that even when they get old they will not only continue to seek God themselves, but have the joy of seeing their children share this biblical WAY OF LIFE with the grandchildren.
This is the WAY OF LIFE that God gave Israel through Moses:
"And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." Deuteronomy 11:19