Back to School (Parenting)

Bible Book: Proverbs  22 : 6
Subject: Parenting; Children; Home; Back to School
Introduction

As children start back to school, it is a good idea for parents to consider where they are in the process of learning to be godly parents. I’m speaking today on parenting and how God says it is to be done. We expect our children to go to school and once they are to learn and grow. Be assured that being parents means that we are to learn and grow in God's school called the family. We must have His directions and objectives for our children and for ourselves.

To be sure, there are many so-called experts in the world today who are giving advice on family life, but looking at society tells us that their ideas are not working. We need to go back to the first Father – the Heavenly Father - and ask Him how we are to rear our children.

Raising children is hard work buy it can be humorous as well. For example, someone said that a little boy or girl usually thinks a balanced meal is a piece of cake in each hand. Hey, I know some adults that think that is true as well. One parent said a small boy is noise with dirt all over him! I'm sure you have some illustrations you could share on this subject as well.

As parents you can feel that you are living in a zoo. A mother once asked her husband, "Do you think we should take Junior to the zoo?" The father replied, "Absolutely not. If they want him, let them come for him." Sometimes we may feel like we are in a zoo when we are trying to guide our children through life. Sadly, many parents today are allowing the children to control home life. One noted foreign dignitary was asked what most surprised him about the American landscape, he answered, "The way parents in America obey their children."

Certainly we are aware that children are in trouble in America's homes today. Juvenile delinquency is increasing at seven times the rate of our population. In some communities violence and death among teens are skyrocketing. What is causing this? One noted expert on the family states that there is a poison of permissiveness pervading America's homes. In other words, parents are to blame for much of the problem. Sadly, in many cases there is only one parent trying to rear the children, or grandparents are forced to do their best to raise them because the parents are not able or willing to do it. We have sown the wind of permissiveness and we are reaping the whirlwind of crime, disobedience, drugs, sexual license, and many other ills. This situation will not get better on its on.

Let's look today at a passage which tells us how to rear our children according to the Word of God. Turn with me to Proverbs 22:6:

“Train up a child in the way he should go,

And when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Now, I know that this verse does not mean what some of you think it means, and I will deal with that later in this message, but I want you to know what it does declare and how that applies to us as parents.

I. The Decisive Time for Training a Child

God does not say that you are to train up a teenager or a young adult in the way he should go, but states that we are to train up a "child" in the correct way. It is easier to bend the twig when it is small than when it is full grown. We must begin the process of training our children while they are young - right from the beginning!

Proverbs 19:18 states:

“Chasten your son while there is hope,

And do not set your heart on his destruction.”

In other words, we are to shape our children while there is some hope for giving them the proper direction for life. Wet cement can be molded, but hardened cement can only be accepted as it is or broken into pieces. Someone has said that as little angel’s legs get longer their wings get shorter. Statistics show that 90% of all SBC missionaries were saved by the time they were 9 years old. The earlier a child is given proper direction, the greater the chance of service to God in his or her life.

A. Commence Early

The first issue regarding Christian child-rearing is to begin early. Of course, we must let children be children and that means that we never discipline a child for acting like a child. We are to give directions to our children so they can learn how to grow into godly adults. Every child is born with a sinful nature and you will see that often and early in their lives. Proverbs 29:15 states that discipline and rebuke gives wisdom to a child, but if you let a child do what comes naturally, he will shame himself and his family! So, it is important to set up Christian guidelines and rules in your home at the earliest possible age.

My wife saw a video on Facebook the other day of a little child who was watching television. The child was viewing an adult who was exhibiting an exercise routine. The little boy, who was just a baby, was following every step and move that the adult in the video took. He moved as close as possible to the movements made by the adult. I thought of the passage I'm speaking on today as I heard her describe the video. Every child mimics what they see and repeats what they hear. We must show them in our lives how to act, speak and live through our actions. Yes, we teach them with words, and we discipline them as they grow, but hardly anything speaks lounder than our example.

B. Continue Earnestly

Discipline is tiring. No parent wants to spend the entire period of a child’s growing period correcting and disciplining. Some parents stop giving discipline because they become weary in well doing. We must continue earnestly, but lovingly, to give our children the correction needed each day.

You may feel that you simply can't figure out your children and what is going on in their minds, especially when they become teenagers, but your children have a hard time figuring you out too! I read seven suggestions some time ago for teens to  use in helping their parents through these difficult years.

1. Don't shy away from speaking the language of your parents. Try some strange sounding phrases like, "Let me help you with the dishes," or "Yes, sir."

2. Try to understand your parents favorite music. Play "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" on the stereo until you get accustomed to the sound.

3. Be patient with the weaknesses of your parents. If you catch you mom sneaking a candy bar, don't jump all over her. Quietly set a good example.

4. Encourage your parents to talk about their problems. Keep in mind that things like earning a living or paying off the mortgage seem important to them.

5. Be tolerant with the appearance of your parents. When your father gets a haircut, don't try to hide him from your friends. Remember, it's important to him to look like his peers.

6. If they do something you think is wrong, let them know that you dislike their behavior, not them.

7. Above all, pray for your parents. They may seem confident on the outside but feel weak on the inside. They need God to get them through these difficult years.

Indeed, it seems that parents and children are living in two different worlds, and in some ways they are, but it is important for parents to be parents. You children have friends, what they need from you is leadership and love. If we start early and don’t lose heart in our love and discipline, we have the greatest possibility of success in bringing our children to adulthood with godly character and believing faith in Christ.

II. The Dominant Themes in Training a Child

A. Loving Devotion

Your child needs to hear you say, "I love you." A parent must have a devoted love for his or her child and must express it often. So how do we show this love?

American children are given billions of dollars’ worth of toys a year and the amount we spend on these toys is more than the gross national product of over sixty nations on earth! It is not how much money you spend on them, but how much time you spend with them that makes the greatest difference. Your children spell love as T. I. M. E.

A shabbily dressed boy trudged several miles through the snowy streets of Chicago years ago, determined to attend a Bible class that was conducted by D. L. Moody. When he arrived, he was asked, "Why did you come to a Sunday school so far away? Why didn't you go to one of the churches near your home?" He answered simply, "Because you love a fellow over here." Like that lad, children all over the world are looking for love.

Children long to be warmly accepted by someone who really cares. Shakespeare said, "They do not truly love who do not show their love." For parents this is a critical issue. I have heard some adults say, “I never heard my dad or mom tell me that they loved me.” Shameful! Parents, you need to love your children, tell them and show them in the time you spend with them. Never let your children grow up without hearing and seeing the truth that you love them!

B. Loving Direction

In Luke 2:52 we read that Jesus grew up in four ways:

i. Intellectually

He was taught in ways that expanded His mind. Yes, He was so much God that it seemed He wasn’t man and so much man that it seemed He wasn’t God, but even He needed to develop His intellect. You see, He came as a baby to this earth in order that He might endure all the things you and I endure, and He did that without ever committing sin. The point here is that parents must be involved in the child’s education. Some have said that this is the greatest problem in America today – parents are not engaged in their child’s education and learning.

ii. Physically

Jesus grew up physically like all other children. He had to go through the stages of growth right up through adolescence just as you and I did. Caring for our children means making sure that they exercise, and that means getting them off the couch and away from digital devices. Obesity is a great problem for our children and parents can help by being concerned for the child’s physical wellbeing. The use of the internet has been called by some leaders "digital heroin," since it can become so addicting that it destroys ever other part of a child's life.

iii. Spiritually

Surely Jesus was spiritually adept from the beginning, but the Bible clearly states that He grew spiritually. He had to grow in spiritual understanding as He grew up in other ways. Taking time to pray with your children, to read the Bible to them, and to help them learn how to cope with life from a biblical perspective is so important. Be assured that it is much harder, and can be impossible, to build quality spiritual time with a child if you wait until they are teenagers to begin!

iv. Socially

Some of the most difficult things children endure are the social problems that go along with growing up. Making friends, being bullied and feeling awkward among peers is part of that process. Christian parents need to teach their children not to give in to evil behavior in order to belong to a group. Peer pressure is a major reason that many children start down the road to dangerous behavior.

Every parent needs to do a check list occasionally to see how you are doing in each of these four areas. If Jesus needed to grow in each area, so do you children.

C. Loving Discipline

Discipline is a difficult process, but is absolutely necessary. We read in Proverbs 29:17:

“Correct your son, and he will give you rest;

Yes, he will give delight to your soul.”

Learning to discipline in love, but with a strong hand, will help you find rest and peace in the family as the years progress. Failing to do so can lead to unrest as your child grows older. But, be assured that brutal discipline is not only a sin, it is a crime. Loving discipline is a necessity and will bless you for years to come.

Proverbs 23:13 states:

“Do not withhold correction from a child,

For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.”

Now, don’t misunderstand this verse. The “rod” mentioned here was more like a switch than a stiff stick. Yes, when I was young I was administered a goodly dose of corporeal punishment and it didn’t kill me. I thought I was going to die and I tried to make my dad think I was going to die, but I’m still here. In my case, I can assure you that the discipline was necessary and helpful!

One boy said, “My dad believes in meditation because he always telling me to sit down and shut up." Actually, discipline is much more than shouting at your child. Loving discipline involves explaining the reasons for discipline.

If you love your child, you will discipline your child. It is easier to let things slide than correct a child but it is wrong thing to do so. Look at Hebrews 12:5-11 and you will note that God disciplines His children. If you do not discipline your child, you are acting as if you think you know more about how to help children than God does! Since God disciplines us as believers, we can be sure He expects us to discipline our children in the home.

i. Discipline should contain Proper Consideration

The Bible clearly teaches that discipline ought to take place when a child is old enough to understand and obey. The purpose of discipline is to bring a child to a point of making correct decisions without having to be corrected. This takes time, love, prayer and a parental backbone!

ii. Discipline should contain Proper Application

No child should be hit in the face or disciplined in a way that harms him. I found that my children seemed to prefer a bit of corporeal punishment to the long conversations I had with them about their misdeeds. So, I just made those long conversations that much longer. Nobody wants to hear a preacher for more than 25 minutes. If they thought they were going to get one of my lectures, they straightened up immediately!

Some years ago I read the following: "In years gone by, Papa administered a stern code of discipline to Junior. However, the electric razor took away his razor strop, furnaces did away with the woodshed, and tax worries removed his few remaining hairs and the necessity for a hairbrush. Perhaps that is why his kids are running wild today‑‑ Dad ran out of weapons!"

iii. Discipline should contain Proper Aggravation

It is impossible to issue discipline to a child without a measure of sternness, but our aggravation must be measured and all discipline is to be administered in love. I never understood the old line from my father, “This is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you,” until I had my own children. But the fact that my father took time to talk to me when he disciplined me meant that he never acted in a rage or a fit of anger. No parent should punish a child in a fit of temper!

Now, let’s look at why all this is necessary and important…

III. The Delightful Triumph after Training a Child

A. What this Verse does not Say

This verse is not an iron-clad promise that your child will grow up to be a saint if you do all the right things. A Proverb is considered a general rule and not a divine promise. In Proverbs 13:1 we read:

“A wise son heeds his father’s instruction,

But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”

In other words, a child can be a scoffer and reject the direction of his father and mother. We read that a scoffing child can turn out to be a bad man or woman after reaching adulthood, even though godly parents were involved in raising that child. Good parents do sometimes rear children who become bad people. Some parents whose children go astray wonder what they did to cause it. Sure, we all make mistakes as parents, but even the best parents cannot determine the outcome of a child once adulthood has been reached. Ultimately, each of us is answerable to God for our decisions. After all, there is no perfect parent, and no perfect, angelic child. We are all sinners and our only hope of righteousness is found in Christ alone.

A nine year old boy refused to heed his mother's warnings about hitching rides behind cars with his metal coaster wagon. He would cleverly steer his cart with one hand, and hold on with the other to the back bumper of an automobile as it was leaving a parking place. He got quite a thrill being towed for about a block; then letting go, and he would coast for a long distance at high speed. One day he was late for dinner, so he grabbed the back of a huge dump truck which he thought was going his way. Unexpectedly, the driver, who couldn't see the boy in his rearview mirror, shifted into reverse. It all happened so quickly that the boy had no chance to move, and the double wheels of the heavily loaded vehicle rolled over him and his shiny red wagon. Death was instantaneous. The boy really had meant no harm, but being unaware of the terrible danger, he had decided to disregard his mother's repeated warnings. And so his life was tragically snuffed out.

Children disobey and their decisions can lead to harm  or even death. If a child continues to disobey, it can lead to an ungodly life and an unsaved eternity. We must do our best as parents, but we cannot “make” our children be all that we want or God wants them to be.

Let’s face it, there is only one perfect father - the Heavenly Father - He is the only one who produced a perfect Son - Jesus! So don’t sit here today as a parent and beat yourself up if things didn’t turn out the way you wanted for your child. My point today is that we must take seriously the role of parenting. We must do our best, according to His Word, and leave the results to Him. In fact, in 2 Kings 22:1-3 we note that King Manasseh did not do what his father had done and did not follow the instructions He was given. He chose to disobey his father and that led him to an ungodly lifestyle. The point is, do what is biblically right in raising your children and pray for God to do the rest.

B. What this Verse does Say

The Proverb we are considering today does not promise the outcome of your child’s choices and decisions, but it speaks of bending a twig in the best possible direction. Training a child in the way "he should go" is an attempt to bend your child to God’s will and way. This does not mean you are to make your child into what you used to be or what you wanted to be and didn’t become. Some parents want to live out their lives through their children. We must help a child go the way God has for that child. He has a specific plan for each child and has chosen us to assist Him in getting them to the point of making a decision to follow His plan. We shape them but only God can make them what they ought to be in life.

Most importantly, we want to live before our children in a manner that reveals the joys of the Christian life. Parents are to take their children to church and not just send them. Parents are to place their children in a position so that the Holy Spirit can draw them to faith in Christ. After all, the greatest thing that can happen to a child is salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

As our children go back to school, let us as parents commit to continue our training in being good parents. While they learn, we too can continue to learn!

Long ago a traveler came upon an elderly man planting fruit trees. "You are very old," the traveler said, "and it will be many years before these trees begin to bear any fruit. You can't expect to enjoy them." The tree planter said, "Oh yes I can, I’m already drawing pleasure from them now by anticipation!" Then, pointing to another section of his land, he asked, "Do you see those trees? They were loaded with fruit last fall. How I appreciate them! My father planted them for me to enjoy, and now I am planting these new fruit trees for my children! Just thinking of their future happiness blesses me now."

That is how we are to commitment our children to God. Plant God’s best in them and let God bring out the fruit in His own time. However, there will be no fruit if nothing is planted.

Parenting is a difficult task, but it is God’s plan for a family. As parents, we must commit our way to God, do our best to obey Him in our own lives, and lead our children to do the same. Plant, water and trust the fruit to come from God!

Surely there are some parents here today who desire God’s help in this process. You are trying but at times you feel like a failure. Renew your commitment to God today as a parent. Seek Him for forgiveness where you fail and assistance in giving the best leadership and love to your child or children.

Some parents or gaurdians in this service are still praying for your children to follow God’s direction in life. You can come today and bow before the Lord once again, and you can ask God intervene where it is necessary and to perhaps give you just the right words to say to your adult child.

Yet, there is someone here today who lacks what you need most. You need a heavenly Father. God loves you and sent His Son to die for you, so that your sins might be forgiven. Turn to Him now, repent of your sin and accept Jesus as your Savior. When you do that, you will have a home in heaven waiting for you and a loving heavenly Father to direct your life in this world.