Train up a Child
This proverb isn’t new to any of us who are Christian and it certainly isn’t new to Christian homeschooling moms. After all, it encapsulates, for many of us, both our homeschooling and child-rearing philosophies. Have you, however, ever given thought to it’s broader meaning?
If you’re like me, you’ve always thought of this proverb in light of Christian parenting — if you raise your child with Christian morals and values, he will carry those values into adulthood. However, I have had a broader view pointed out to me not once, but twice this week. The first time was by my pastor in church Sunday morning; the other was by Rebecca Ingrall Powell in her book, Season of Change, which I was reading last night.
Both my pastor and Mrs. Powell, who is a homeschooling mom of three, pointed out that this verse can and should also refer to a child’s God-given talents, his natural giftings and bents. In that light, this verse should direct us not only to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, but also to encourage and support the natural giftings of our children. If a child is artistic, sign her up for art classes or make supplies readily available. If a child is athletic, provide opportunities to play sports and learn from talented coaches. If a child is musical, provide training and an instrument.
This can also refer to a child’s spiritual giftings. Is your child hospitable? Provide opportunities to open your home to friends and family. Does your child like to serve? Let her explore volunteer opportunities within your church and community. Is your child a teacher? Let him teach younger siblings or assist in a leadership role in church or scouting.
Part of our homeschool mission statement says, “Promoting family values, building the Christian faith, providing a quality education…changing the world, one homeschooled kid at a time.”
If we are really going change the world with and through our children, we have to “train them up in the way that they should go.” We have to recognize their God-given talents and equip them to fulfill the purpose for which He has called them. We have to emphasize their strengths and encourage their weaknesses. In so doing, we gift them with a lifetime of personal and professional fulfillment, whether their profession be that of a world-class Christian athlete or a loving mom whose mission field is her offspring. And, in so doing, we also fulfill a portion of God’s purpose for us, as Christian parents by raising our children to be all that He intended them to be.
I have heard that verse referring to a child’s particular ‘bent’ too. The times that that is most difficult is when your child has a different bent than you do.
I need to start looking for those things in my little ones the same way I do in the big boys.
Thanks for the reminder!