What Are We Training Our Kids?

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Prov. 22:6 NKJ)
I’ve been dealing with kids since my early twenties.  Miss Terri and I have been involved with youth ministries in the church ever since we’ve been married, some 35 years.  I have been taking kids to church camp and teaching 10-12 year olds for the past 20 years.  We’ve had great relationships with our nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews.  We have raised three wonderful boys who have become fine young men.  And three grandchildren which are so very special to us.  
Over the years, we’ve earned the confidence of so many of these kids.  They have told us things about their lives, their families, their problems in life.  We’ve cried with them so many times after hearing about the problems that their own families have brought them.  Now I know that there are no perfect parents.  I think we all having given emotional scars to our kids as well as we all have received them from our parents.  The things that I am seeing in today’s world go way beyond what most of us experienced as kids.
When we bring children into this world, we are given an extraordinary responsibility.  For the next fifteen (or more) years of our lives we will be training our children.  The question is, what are we training them for?  In the passage above, it states “in the way he should go”.  What does that mean?  It means that it we are to train them to go on the right path in life.
The right path.  I can only be responsible for training my boys in the path that I knew was right.  We took them to church.  We introduced them to God.  We taught them right from wrong, being responsible and to be nice, polite young men.  We showed them how to truly love others.  That was our responsibility.  Not the church’s, not the school’s, but our responsibility. 
Even parent is training their children in some way.  The parents have a tremendous influence on the lives of their children.  While some parents are training their children in the right paths for their lives, many others are training their children to walk in the wrong paths.  You see, training children is not done by words but by actions.  You tell your child, not to drink while you are drink yourself, guess what you are training them.  You tell your children not to use bad language, yet you cuss like a sailor… you are training them.  You tell your child not to have sex, yet you hop from one live-in relationship to the other… you are training them.  You tell your child that you love them, yet you put everything in your life before them… yes, you are training them.  But not in the right path.
You get the picture.  Over and over, we’ve dealt with kids who hear about God and many who’ve accepted Christ.  These kids hear about the right path, and many want to go on the right path, but then they go home and the parent’s “training” just continues.  
I can’t even begin to relate the things that I know that have been said and done to kids that I have ministered to over the years by their parents.  It’s almost like the kids don’t stand a chance in life because of the terrible influence of their own parents.  Miss Terri and I have shed many tears over the fact that some of these parents are training these kids to be just like them… Godless and without any moral convictions.  We worry about what the future holds for many of these children.  Will the influence that we have in the few hours we are able to minister to them be enough?
If you have brought a child into this world… BE RESPONSIBLE for the right training of that child.  Now this is the part where I want to rant endlessly about the selfishness of a lot of parents.  How they truly never sacrifice their own pleasures in order to take care of their own children… but I will refrain.  So let me give you some advice instead:
Bring your kids to church!  Do not just let someone else take them to church, but go with them.  We have taken so many kids to church without their parents.  Do you realize how many kids want to see their parents in church with them?  I have seen kids jump up and down with excitement because their mom or dad finally decided to come to church with them.  Besides by coming with them you too can see how God can change lives.
Teach your kids right from wrong.  The problem isn’t that parents don’t know right from wrong, but they don’t care if it is wrong, they are doing wrong themselves.  They have problems in life that they believe can’t be fixed so they just continue to train their children to do wrong even if they tell their kids that it is wrong.  What a mixed message.  God can fix your brokenness.  Show your kids the way they should go, by letting God heal and change you.  What a great example you could be to your kids.  Stop doing the wrong things and begin teaching them the right paths they should follow.
Love your children.  Well, that should be easy.  Every parent loves their kids… right?  Teaching your children about love is not about saying “I love you”, but it is all about showing your child that you love them.  The love that we are really talking about and the type of love that children need is the type of love that Christ had for us… His children.  It is a love that is self-sacrificing.  A love that we would give our lives for our kids.  You might say, “I do that”.  But do you really?  You see, the reason kids get so messed up is that they don’t feel loved.  They see their parents love drugs, alcohol, sex partners, social status, money and sometimes even church over their own children.  They are not willing to sacrifice for them.  Kids see that, kids know that and feel unwanted and unloved.  Show your child you really love them… get right with God, get into a church family, let God take care of the brokenness within you, begin teaching them right from wrong by your actions, not your words and then spend quality time with them.
The last part of our verse today is interesting.  For many years, I was taught that if you raised them up right that they would not turn away from the right path.  Many pastors today have children that have gone astray, yet they were taught right.  Many folks will judge the pastor by the way his kids turned out.  Yet, that’s not what that really means. It’s not saying that they won’t stray from the right path, but that they can never get away from the training that you’ve given them.  Re-read it with that in mind.  If you trained the child the right way to live, the training will always be with the child although he may not walk in it.  They will forever have that training and will constantly fight against it though.
The same can be said of the child that is trained in the wrong path.  He doesn’t have to follow his training.  He can go the right path… but they will be fighting against the training his parents gave him his whole life in some way.
There is an old seventies song that just came to my mind.  It goes like this…
I’ve longed since retired, my son’s moved away,  I called him up just the other day
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”  He said, I’d love to, Dad, if I could find the time
You see my new job’s a hassle and the kids have the flu, but it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you”
And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me, he’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me.
Teach your children well.  It is your responsibility.  Let them have the opportunity to know God through Jesus Christ.  Show them right from wrong by your actions not your words.  Really love your children by putting them before the selfish things you have been loving more.  If you really love them, you will.
Give your kid a chance in this life.
Bro. Randy

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