“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV)
Today's verse is possibly one of the most well-known verses about parenting in all of God’s Word. It is powerful and hopeful. Generations of parents have clung to it. But oh mama, I really didn't want to talk about this one with you today.
I wanted to skip over this verse because we all know parents—and maybe we are these parents—who have trained children up in the way they should go, but have absolutely seen them turn from it. As a Christian mom, I don't want to think about this. I want to think that if I just train my children up, everything will turn out fine. And I'm going to tell you right now I don't have any easy explanation for how this verse works out in real life.
But here's what I know about parenting boiled down to three steps: train your children; trust them to God; repeat. The tricky truth is that God does not want robots who can do nothing other than love Him; He wants thinking, feeling, mind-and-soul, flesh-and-blood children who choose to actively love Him out of love for Him. And anytime there is choice involved, there is risk involved.
This is where as parents, we have to focus on what our job is and what it isn't: our job is not the outcome, our job is the input.
Pour into your children truth about God, honesty about your own relationship with Him, prayer, worship, fellowship, service, and Biblical knowledge. And then, hard as it is and though you do it with fists that constantly want to clench back up, release the outcome of your precious children to God—with the comforting knowledge that He released His beloved to take hold of your beloved.