Why “Train Up a Child” Is Not A Promise ~ RELEVANT CHILDREN’S MINISTRY

One of the most quoted verses about raising children is Proverbs 22:6.  It says this:

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Many people believe this is an ironclad promise. If you raise a child up in God’s ways, then he or she will grow up to be a follower of Jesus.  

Along with this is the line of thinking that if a child departs from actively practicing faith in Christ, then dad and mom did something wrong in their parenting.  The presumption is that they did not properly train their child to follow Jesus. Somewhere in their parenting they missed something or did something incorrectly.

I disagree with this line of thought.  I believe that this verse is a principle, not a promise.  Just like many other “promises” in Proverbs, it is not a 100% guarantee.

Why?

Because God will not violate a person’s free will. 

Each of us must choose for ourselves whether we are going to follow Jesus or not.  

God only has children not grandchildren.  

Just because parents are following Jesus and doing their best to raise their children to follow Jesus, doesn’t mean the children will automatically follow Him.   

God only has children not grandchildren. Each person must decide for themselves if they are going to follow Jesus or not.

I have seen children who were raised in a great Christian home and yet turned away from God when they got out on their own. 

I have also seen children who were raised without God in their life and received no spiritual guidance from their parents, come to Christ and become active, passionate followers of Jesus. 

I do believe this – if parents will be intentional about pouring the ways and Word of God into their children, then there is a really good opportunity for them to become followers of Jesus.  

Our role as parents and church leaders is to create fertile soil so that when children are planted in the fertile soil, we will see their faith grow and flourish for a lifetime. 

In my book, Fertile Soil, I share what parents and church leaders need to pour into children if they want to see them grow up to follow Jesus for a lifetime.  You can get the book here.  

Some of you who are reading this just felt a twinge of heartache when you thought about your own children. You raised them as best you could. You took them to church, you read the Bible with them and you prayed with them and for them consistently.  But now they are grown and have made the choice to walk away from church and even the faith in some instances. 

Stop beating yourself up about this.  As I said, each person must decide for themselves if they are going to follow Jesus or not.  Yes…keep praying they will come back.  Yes…keep letting them know how much you love them.  Yes…keep living for God with an active, real faith that they can see. Never give up on them.

If you are reading this and you would like me to join you in praying for your children, feel free to email me at [email protected] and I will commit to praying for them with you. 

Don’t give up.  Keep praying for them.  Keep loving them.  Keep believing that God will work in their life and bring them back. 

Your turn.  Do you believe Proverbs 22:6 is a promise or a principle?  Share your thoughts and insights in the comment section below.


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