Continuing from Part 4……(Click here to start at Part 1)

Fourth, we must train and instruct our children.

When you first began a new job, you weren’t thrown into the job on day one and expected to complete tasks to perfection.  Chances are, you went through a training period.  Depending on the job, this period could have been several hours to several years.  Likewise, we must train our children for the jobs and responsibilities we expect them to fulfill and the behaviors we expect them to demonstrate. 

Training and instructing takes on many forms.  We have already discussed training by living as an example.  Another form is through explanation and demonstration.  If we are trying to teach our child a particular task such as how to clean a bathroom, we cannot just put them in the bathroom, hand them a scrub brush and expect them to clean it.  We must demonstrate and walk through the process, explaining the how-to’s as we go.  Then, we must supervise and assist as necessary, until the child grasps the concept.

Yet another form is teaching through consistency.  This can be easily explained by using the example of training a baby.  A young baby or toddler cannot always understand the spoken words we give him, so we teach by doing the same thing repetitively.  We are in the process of teaching A, an overly active child, to sit still during church.  He cannot possibly understand the point of sitting still, as it his nature to explore and play at that age.  Through repetition, consistent encouragement of the correct behavior, and discouragement of the incorrect behaviors, however, he is learning to sit still for longer durations.  We have been working on this for several months.  Last night, for the first time, when Daddy announced it was time for family worship, A ran over, jumped on the couch, and sat beside me.  This morning, he sat through the entire hour-and-a half church service without attempting to get down or making a single vocal noise.  At just 17 months of age, he has begun to understand that we want him to sit still. 

The secular world would have us believe that “children will be children.”  I do not disagree with this, as even the Bible states “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child….”(Proverbs 22:15) and “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.” (1 Corinthians 13:11).  However, the Bible does not leave it at that.  If you read on, it becomes very obvious that, although the nature of a child is to act childish, they can be trained and instructed according to Godly principles.  Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go…”  Deuteronomy 4:9 commands, “Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Deuteronomy 6:7 states, “Impress them on your children.”  Furthermore, the Bible commands “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” (Colossians 4:20). 

It is obvious therefore, that not only can children be trained, but God expects us to train them.  These passages do not exclude children of any age, so we must assume that He expects us to train our children at all ages.  Remember the priest, Eli, who God punished for not properly training and disciplining even his adult children (1 Samuel 2:29).  Proper training is also not limited to behavior, but also attitude.  I mentioned A learning to sit still.  Even more amazing, S was not forcing A to sit there, and A was not miserable in the least.  Rather, he has learned that sitting still and playing quietly in Daddy’s lap is what is pleasing to us.  In fact, he would periodically look up at his daddy, and give a great big smile, as if he was seeking approval and acknowledging that he was, indeed, behaving correctly. 

It is now interesting when we compare little A with 3 year old M.  We did not begin training M to sit still until she was over 2 years old.  As a result, she is not much beyond A’s level in her ability to sit still, and her attitude can still drift toward the negative.  Obviously, the earlier we begin training our children, the sooner they learn the necessary character traits that we should desire for our children.