Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. ESV Proverbs 22:6
God blessed my wife and I with five children (and we are in the process of adopting a few more). With that many kids, many aspects of our home are structured and ordered, and we do much together as a family. However, one of the most important aspects of our children’s spiritual formation is the recognition that each child is uniquely made by their creator and as such, He has a unique plan for each of them.
The verse quoted above is so often quoted in the context of “take your child to church when he’s young, and he will continue to go when he’s old.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t say that or mean that, so when parents base their parenting philosophy on this interpretation, it’s no wonder they are surprised by the negative outcome. Literally translated, the Hebrew says “Train a child upon the mouth of his journey…” It has the idea that each child has a lifetime stretching in front of them. Our responsibility as parents is to help that child find the “mouth of his journey” or the beginning place of the path to which God has called him. In other words, God has called each of our children to walk a unique path. Our responsibility as parents is to help them find that path and begin their journey well. If we can help them get on the path God has called them, Solomon assures us they will continue well.
This “mouth of the journey” involves so much more than just making sure they are followers of Christ. It involves helping them find their gifts, talents, abilities, calling and considering their fears, weaknesses, besetting sins and struggles. Collectively, these things make up the calling God has for each of us. We have all seen too many people struggle to find their life calling. Our responsibility as parents is to help our children find the mouth of their journey with God. What a high calling! I’ll try to unpack exactly how we do this in future posts, but for now, know this is God’s calling to you as a parent.