“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
The first thing that welcomes you when you visit the Church on Sunday morning is the sight of children wandering in the compound while the worship is going on.
Many of the adult leaders in the churches argue that children are a distraction. So they are sent away to play while the rest of the congregation participate in worship. I have often wondered, “Don’t children need God?”
This mindset has led many children to grow without the fear and love of God in their lives. The Langi have a saying, “you can only straighten a tree when it’s still young.” This is because a tree once grown and bent cannot be made straight again. It only breaks. We allow our children to grow without the knowledge of God.
However, when they have become rebellious young adults, we try to straighten their character. But sometimes, it is too late.
Proverbs gives us principles on how to handle children.
1. Train Up
Training is a process and not a one-time event. It takes time, discipline, sacrifice and hard work to achieve a good training in any field. The Bible uses this word “train up” to indicate the hard work and commitment the parents, teachers and or guardians have to make in preparing children for their future.
Apostle Paul used the same word in describing the usefulness of the Scripture. He said the Scripture is useful for “training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. This verse also implies that the level of thorough equipping is determined by the amount of time invested in the training of Scripture.
2. A Child
The Hebrew word used in this passage for ‘child’ carries a broader meaning and it covers from babyhood to youth-hood. The idea of training and the time frame is from when the child begins to understand, and it continues through their youth. So, we should not wait for our children to become young adults but begin training them in the way of the Lord right away.
3. In the Way He Should Go.
The way of God should be the right way for the child to go as this is the way of life. Parents, teachers, guardians, and anyone taking care of children must insist upon this. We must teach God’s Word and enforce it with kind, gentle and loving discipline.
The Great Shema encourages parents to teach their children the Word of God diligently, and that it should be the integral part of their upbringing (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
Teaching the Word of God to our children should be done consistently throughout their upbringing.
4. Even When He Is Old, He Will Not Depart from It.
It is very true that the disciplines we develop as children manifest itself in our adulthood. How many of the adults and youth can boldly say everything they have learnt as children was useless and a waste of time? How many of you can in the same manner say you do not remember anything taught during childhood?
There might be a small fraction of people who would deny this truth, but it is an established fact that we grow as responsible adults due to discipline in the early stages of our life.
If what children get exposed to, can impact their lives; would it not be better and wiser to allow the Word of God to impact their lives? If children are able to remember and recollect songs and stories told to them, would it not be better to instruct them through songs and stories about their Creator?
Let us stop neglecting our children and disconnecting them from God and the things of God. Let us remember that everything our children get exposed to at the tender age would manifest itself in their later years. Guide your children to God when they are still young and teach them how to pray as children.
May the Lord bless you as you point your children to the right way they should follow.
Kasule Jacob is the Founder of Galactic Foundation in Uganda