Week of Monday, September 7 – Saturday, September 12
Train em' up! – Man as the Instructor 

"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." —Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)  

What is something a parent or grandparent taught you to do that you still remember? My dad taught me how to hunt, fish, play baseball, and many other things. It is often the “small stuff” that sticks with us over the long haul. Have you noticed that the younger we start learning something, the more second nature these things become as we get older? The same is true of the “big stuff” in life, like developing moral character and the spiritual disciplines of prayer and a daily devotion in God’s word. The younger we start, the more second nature these become later in life.

The author of Proverbs reminds us of this truth as we consider our essential role as the Instructor in our home. To state the obvious, far too many men either abdicate or delegate this responsibility. Consequently, many kids with a disconnected dad are really trained by no one in particular, so they get their cues from video games, social media, or friends. If they happen to grow up in a Christian home, many dads delegate the training to the moms, Sunday School teachers, and youth ministers. While kids need all the training in the spiritual disciplines and character development they can get, there is no substituting a dad’s role in that training.

And yet, our training must go beyond just what we teach. Children also watch and imitate us. We provide direction for our children best when we lead by example, living out—in real world terms—the faith we profess. For example, kids who see their dad pray privately and publicly will likely remember that more than many of the lessons he taught about prayer. A teenager will remember whether we respond to their screw-ups in angry judgment or by cutting them some slack and showing mercy. They will remember when we show up and when we don’t. They will watch to see if what we say matches what we do. That kind of training sticks.

However, don’t claim this verse as a promise that our children won’t ever stumble or veer off course. Every child who is taught the truth may not choose to live it. Just consider God’s two kids in the Garden. Even the most diligent dad may find himself with a prodigal son or daughter. As President John Quincy Adams once said: “Duty is ours, results are God’s.” So train ‘em up!
  • To be an instructor, you first must become a student. Meditate on Deuteronomy 6:4-8. What are some ways you can improve in your own pursuit of God and his ways?
  •  Is there someone in your life who is a strong teacher to younger people that you can learn from? Ask to be mentored in becoming a better instructor.
  • What are some ways that you can better take advantage of teachable moments with your kids or grandkids to help them develop moral character and spiritual disciplines?