Training Children (Part 1)

Proverbs 1:8, Ephesians 6:1-2

Proverbs is a book about training children.  There is not another book like it in the Bible that begins with the words of a father and ends with the words of a mother.  Proverbs contains principles of wise living.  God’s curriculum for children is superior to the world’s wisdom as is clearly seen in its benefits and fruit according to Proverbs 4:5-9, 8:12-21.

Proverbs are Principles and Precepts

Proverbs are principles and precepts.  A good way of understanding this is to consider this statement about seat belts; “Seat belts save lives.”  If you’re in a car wreck wearing a seatbelt you have a better chance of surviving.  Do some people who wear a seatbelt die in car wrecks?  Yes.  Occasionally people wearing a seatbelt die in a car fire.  Occasionally people not wearing a seat belt get thrown from a car and survive because they were thrown from a burning car.  That doesn’t make the statement “seat belts save lives” false.  But it shows sometimes there are other principles at work.

Skillful Living

Proverbs is a book about skillful living.  In order to play an instrument well it will take skill.  Practice, training, listening, asking, and eventually playing the instrument well because of the skill you’ve developed.  Sometimes wisdom is knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your position.  Sometimes wisdom is knowing how to prioritize the criteria that make up your decision.

The beauty of God’s wisdom is it’s accessible at any stage in life.  A child can be wise and succeed as a child.  An adult with wisdom will be a successful adult.  God’s wisdom will thrive in whatever scenario it finds itself.  Wise people learn how to be students according to Proverbs 1:5.  Daniel and Joseph are two examples of godly wisdom that thrive in unfamiliar territory.  These men were skillful when it came to living.  These four areas at the beginning of Proverbs describe this skillful living.

  1. To know wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:2)
  2. To perceive the words of understanding (Proverbs 1:2)
  3. To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgement, and equity (Proverbs 1:3)
  4. To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion (Proverbs 1:4)

Now, the Proverbs are what to teach your children, but how do you do this?  Let’s work backwards.  Sometimes it’s better to start where you want to be and trace your way back to where you are.  God has given kids three things to do: Hear (Proverbs 1:8), Obey, and Honor (Ephesians 6:1-2).

Hear (Proverbs 1:8)

Hearing is not just hearing words, but internalizing and making application in the heart.  In order for your children to have an opportunity to hear you, there are three things that must happen.

  • Be Instructive

    • You must be instructive as a father.  You must be saying something if your children are to hear something.  That may sound very simple, but it is very often neglected.  Dad’s today are passive.  God as a Father is actively pursuing the image He wants to see with instruction and revelation.  We need to do the same.
    • Discretion and wisdom are preemptive.  Don’t wait for a catastrophe to begin speaking.  Proverbs are preventative maintenance.  Your child should hear more from you than, “Don’t touch the remote” or, “You’re grounded.”
    • Experience is a lousy teacher.  Proverbs is written to keep you from having to learn from experience.  Trial and error is a bad idea because trials take too long and error costs too much.
    • What are you teaching your children about God?  Not what are they learning at church, but what are YOU teaching them?  The same Dad’s that are quick to kick their kids out of the house are very slow to instruct, open the Bible, pray, and spend one on one time with their kids.
  • Spend Time

    • The average dad spends 25 minutes a week in personal, one on one interaction with his children.
    • Schedule rule – make time or it won’t happen.  Dates are a good idea.
    • Magnet rule – Can I do this with my child?  Kill two birds with one stone.
  • Communicate Openly

    • Communication is a two way street – there is a transmitter and a receiver, otherwise communication is not taking place.
    • Instruction includes why something is right and why something is wrong.  It paves a way for your children to trust you.
    • When the kids are playing and there is lots of noise it can be annoying, but I know what’s happening.  My concern is when it gets real quiet.  If it’s getting real quiet between you and your kids just be warned there is a problem coming.  It means no one is going to talk until they HAVE to and that’s not healthy.