For anyone who desires to reach a high level of expertise in their chosen field, passion, or profession it is important that there be an ongoing commitment to training, instruction, correction, and the continuous task of sharpening skills. You may be an aspiring student in college who desires to run a business one day. Your education is important, do it well, study hard and consistently, but never forget that your training will be ongoing, you must remain a student. You may have a desire to be a great athlete. A desire is not enough. You need competent coaches, undying commitment, perseverance for the times that you encounter injuries and other setbacks, and a teachable spirit to gain the skills and expertise necessary for you to grow and excel. You might desire to be a great father or mother–that’s a wonderful desire. You need help, you need instruction, you need role models of godly moms and dads who’ve traveled the trail, been through the struggles of parenting, and have seen God at work in the joyous times and painful times of parenting. It really doesn’t matter what field you are in or what you are pursuing there are two very important factors that will lead to the fulfillment of your desire–you need a teacher, a mentor who can guide and direct you; and you need to be receptive, willing to listen to the nuggets of wisdom and instruction that will be offered to you.
As we take a look at Proverbs 13 today we are going to focus on Solomon’s wisdom on the training of children. This is such an important topic of study for each and every one of us. Not just parents, but all of us. Everyone in this sanctuary is the child of someone and we need to be willing to learn throughout our lives. Many of you are parents, some new parents, and some of you will be parents in the future. You need to know that being a mom or dad is one of the greatest blessings that you can ever experience in life. At the same time, being a parent is one of the greatest responsibilities that you will ever shoulder. We need help. All parents will experience times of great frustration and heartache when they are unable to connect with their kids, but those who raise their kids randomly will fail to give their children a foundation, a base to work from once they leave their parent’s home.
Several years ago parents and community leaders in Houston, Texas were concerned with the rising rate of juvenile delinquency in their city. They all agreed that something had to be done so the Houston Police Department came up with “Twelve Rules for Raising Juvenile Delinquent Children.” It was a huge advertising campaign in Houston. Here are the suggestions they made for those who desired to “train up” their child to be a threat to society.
1. Begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.
2. When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think that it is cute.
3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is twenty-one and then let him “decide for himself.”
4. Avoid use of the word “wrong.” She may develop a guilt complex. This will condition her to believe later, when she is arrested for stealing, that society is against her and she is being persecuted.
5. Pick up everything she leaves lying around. Do everything for her so that she will be experienced in throwing all responsibility on others.
6. Let him read any printed matter he can get his hands on. Be careful, that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feast on garbage.
7. Quarrel frequently in the presence of your children. In this way they won’t be shocked when the home is broken up later.
8. Give a child all the spending money she wants. Never let her earn her own.
9. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink and comfort. See that every sensual desire is gratified.
10. Take her side against neighbors, teachers and policemen. They are all prejudiced against your child.
11. When she gets into real trouble, apologize for yourself by saying, “I never could do anything with her.”
12. Prepare for a life of grief. You will likely have it. (Quoted by Charles Swindoll. You and Your Child. Nashville, Nelson Pub., 1977 pp. 63-64.)
I do not know any parents who desire to raise their son or daughter to become a menace to themselves and society, but I do know many parents who are either not equipped to equip their kids or simply unwilling to commit to the day-to-day rigors of guiding, teaching, correcting, warning, and loving their kids so that they gain the basics of living life.
This morning I want us to spend our time taking a look at Solomon’s wisdom concerning the training of children. If you will remember the book of Proverbs was originally intended for the training of young people. We’ve found that Solomon’s teaching has a far greater reach than children and adolescents, this is an important opportunity for each of us to grow, but the original purpose of the book was the training of the young. The entire book is an educational opportunity that far surpasses anything offered in the halls of academia. Let’s take a look at Proverbs 13:1.
1 A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke. (Proverbs 13:1 NIV)
The focal point of the verse is the father’s instruction. The Hebrew word for “instruction” that is used here has far reaching meaning. The Hebrew word for “instruction” means “discipline, correction, or instruction.” God intends for parents to educate their children. For anyone to gain an education in any area of life each of these three elements is vitally important. We need instruction, the lessons that need to be learned so that we can gain knowledge and insight. We need discipline, the focus necessary for integrating and implementing the lessons into our daily life. When we forget, get distracted, or neglect the vital information we have gained then we need to be corrected, nudged back on track once again so that we don’t end up in the ditch. We see this process take place in all kinds of situations: from the classroom to the workplace to the athletic field. Where this process is sorely lacking today is the home–the most important and essential classroom in the world. Why is this the case? There is no doubt that most parents are crazy about their kids, they love them with all of their hearts, but many parents do not teach their children the basic and essential lessons that are needed for living. Why does this happen? Let me throw some suggestions your way.
First, many moms and dads want to be their child’s friend. They don’t want any conflict at all so they simply cater to whatever their son or daughter wants. The child sets their own curfew, they define the rules of the house and then break them repeatedly with no consequences, and the parents are just there to provide the material necessities for living: food, shelter, clothing, and money.
Each of us has heard of this kind of parenting. Some of us may have raised our kids, or are raising our kids in this way. I have known parents who didn’t want their high school kids out on the street drinking and driving so they allowed their kids and their buddies to drink at their house. I have known parents who thought that it was inevitable that their kids would have sex so they took their daughter to the doctor so that she could get birth control pills or they bought their son condoms. Other kids have gotten in trouble at school, or with the law, and they’ve been bailed out time and time again, never having the opportunity to learn the lesson God intended for them to learn.
As a result of this type of parenting, the child leaves home one day when he or she turns eighteen or nineteen and goes off to college or to get a job and the child is clueless about life. The child has to learn the hard way that the world does not revolve around them, that they can’t get away with the things they got away with when they were living at home and these are hard lessons to learn.
Secondly, many parents get tired of fighting the battles. When their children move into their teenage years and began to grow, mature, and begin to have ideas of their own, some parents, most parents, become weary of constantly having to reassert their authority, enforce the rules, provide constant correction, and keep one eye on their child. They feel more like a parole officer than a parent and it wears them out. Many of these parents would agree with Mark Twain, the great author and humorist, who offered his own advice on raising kids. Mark Twain said, “When they become teenagers put them in a barrel and feed them through the knot hole. When they turn sixteen stop up the knot hole!”
Last of all, the reason many parents fail to teach their kids the basic, fundamental lessons that are necessary for living life with peace, contentment, and purpose is that they simply don’t know how. They grew up in a home where they were not taught those important lessons. Their parents may have been strung out on drugs, drowning in a bottle, or consumed by their work. What the child experienced while he or she was growing up is likely to be repeated when he or she becomes a parent, unless God intervenes and provides different role models of what a family looks like and how a mom and dad are to interact with their kids: teaching, loving, correcting, and guiding their children.
We who are parents have been given the responsibility of educating our kids about life, specifically, living life as God intends for it to be lived. We who have been “parented” by God, taught and corrected by God, through time spent in His Word and the experiences we’ve gone through in life–we are to pass on those lessons to our kids. It is imperative that we pass on these lessons to our kids.
In Deuteronomy 11:1-7, God instructs His people to walk in His will, to follow His instruction, and to do so with absolute dedication, with all their heart. After God speaks to the adults and reminds them how He has provided for them, loved them, and taught them, He turns His attention to the kids. God says, “Remember, your kids didn’t see these things take place.” Why does God tell them to remember? So that they can share with their kids, the young people, the stories of God’s faithfulness in times past, His provision, and His dedication to His people even in times when they are struggling and suffering. Read along with me.
1 Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. 2 Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the LORD your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; 3 the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt, both to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his whole country; 4 what he did to the Egyptian army, to its horses and chariots, how he overwhelmed them with the waters of the Red Sea as they were pursuing you, and how the LORD brought lasting ruin on them. 5 It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the desert until you arrived at this place, 6 and what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth right in the middle of all Israel and swallowed them up with their households, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them. 7 But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the LORD has done. (Deuteronomy 11:1-7 NIV)
A little later in Deuteronomy 11 God says, “Be careful or you will get distracted and turn away from Me.” After God warns His people, the people that He loves, that He has chosen as the apple of His eye, He turns His attention back to the kids. Read along with me from Deuteronomy 11:18-21.
18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21 NIV)
God heart is for His kids. Because of His great love for His people, His kids, He comes to them over and over again with His Word of instruction, encouragement, love, and correction. We who are parents are to parent our kids in the same way that God has “parented” us.
There are some important lessons that parents need to remember as they set out to love and educate their kids in the way of the Lord. Let me share these with you. First, Solomon tells us in Proverbs 22:15,
15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15 NIV)
The word “folly” comes from the Hebrew word which means, “foolishness, folly, to be foolish, be thick, or thick-headed.” Boy, I can well remember when I was young and my dad and mom were trying to teach me important lessons. I just knew that they didn’t know what they were talking about. I was hard-headed, I thought I knew better than they did, but I now see how wise they were and how arrogant and foolish I was not to soak up those lessons like a sponge.
Young people please hear me. When Solomon says that “folly, foolishness, and a hard head” are part of the very nature of young people please don’t hear that as a judgment or condemnation, but hear it as an assessment. I hope you will understand the difference. A judgment or condemnation serves no purpose other than to pronounce your guilt. An assessment on the other hand is intended to point out where we are so that we can move beyond that point.
Solomon says that the “rod of discipline” will remove the “folly” of the young. I got news for you. This verse doesn’t mean, nor condone, beating the foolishness, arrogance, and hard-headedness out of our kids. The word for “discipline” is the same word for instruction in Proverbs 13:1. It means “to instruct, teach, correct, discipline.” The way that we parents are to “discipline” our kids should fall in line with our goal to educate them, not drive them away from us. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says,
Discipline is important to children because foolishness is part of a child’s nature. A remedy for correction is the rod of discipline in order to drive the foolishness from him (Proverbs 22:15). One must keep in mind that this discipline is important to curb moral insolence that might lead in turn to rebellion against God. Proverbs emphasizes the necessity for discipline (Proverbs 13:24; 23:13-14; 29:15). But it is to be tempered with compassion and concern (Proverbs 1:8-9). (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)
When our kids mess up, act out, or are just plain hard-headed then the approach or type of discipline we use should help to accomplish our goal of teaching them that there are consequences for the choices they make and help to draw them back to living life in godly wisdom. Paul wrote the families of the church in Ephesus with these words:
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with a promise, 3 that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth. 4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4 NIV)
Parents we are not to exasperate, pick apart, or crush our kids. Instead, the discipline that we utilize should serve to train and instruct our kids. Now, kids you need to know that this process is not pleasant. You may think your dad or mom are being heavy handed or overbearing, but remember Hebrews 12:11.
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11 NIV)
The key for us parents to keep before us is that all of our discipline, whether it be a heart-to-heart talk, being grounded, a spanking, or losing privileges, all of our discipline should be to help educate our kids.
There is another important fact that we must always remember: Our kids are kids. They don’t have a long history in this life; they don’t have many experiences from which they can draw, and they, like the children of those coming out of Egypt, do not possess the stories of God’s faithfulness in times past like we have. There is another resource they lack: most of our kids do not know the infinite counsel, wisdom, and encouragement that can be drawn from God’s Word. They are experiencing life with little resources to help them deal with setbacks, heartache, and the challenges that come their way. If we will remember these important things then we will be constantly reminded that our kids need instruction and they need it from us.
Last of all, we must remember that God has made our kids unique. He has given them a unique personality that may be far different from the other kids in your house. God has given him or her interests and passions that we are to work to discover and help them pursue. Solomon said,
6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6 NIV)
This verse is not a promise that if you or I take our kids to church and Sunday school that they will turn out fine. I was talking to Dr. David Darnell one time when he spoke those words to me. David said, “Don’t take this verse as a promise because if you do then God was not a good Daddy.” I said, “What do you mean?” David said, “Well, Israel was God’s son. God loved the Israelites. He provided His instruction for His people, He forgave their sin, and offered them His constant counsel, but they wouldn’t listen. They had to learn the hard way and God allowed them to learn the hard way.”
Literally this verse should read, “Train a child according to his bend.” What is it that God has put in your child, my children, that excites them? What is it that they love? Is it farming, painting, doing math, taking care of others, running, building computers, art, or any one of a million others things? Study them, listen to them, hear them and help them to pursue those things.
When Dr. Darnell was in Lubbock, Texas there was a young man who worked on a farm. His dad really wanted him to be a doctor so the young man went to Texas Tech University to study medicine. He made great grades and looked like he was headed to a successful career as a doctor. Then one day he came home. The father was so upset. He called Dr. Darnell and said, “Can you come and talk to my son? He’s quit medical school and said he wants to farm.” David went to talk to the young guy and the young man told him, “Dr. Darnell, I enjoy school, but I love farming. Being out of the land, working the cows, and bringing in the harvest is what excites me the most about life. My dad wants me to be a doctor, but I want to farm.” How do you argue with that?
We need to remember all of these things as we parent our kids, as we teach them, instruct them, correct them, and try and guide them in life.
There is another important lesson in this verse for those who are being educated about life as God intends. A contrast is drawn between two different kinds of children in this verse. There is the child that is open to his parent’s instruction or teaching and there is the child who simply refuses to hear the correction that is offered by their parents. Young people, God may have given you parents that love you and want to teach you the lessons they have learned in life, but you have to be willing to learn, you have to be teachable, you have to be open to their teaching, correcting, and guidance. You need to realize that if your parents pull back and simply leave you to chart your course that rough waters lie ahead. Solomon wrote,
15 The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother. (Proverbs 29:15 NIV)
You really don’t want your parents to leave you to raise yourself, for you to have to make decisions without the benefit of their counsel. Yet, I see and know young people who do not want their parents to teach them or correct them. This is not a new phenomenon. You can read Scripture and find young people like Absalom, the son of King David, and Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, who just simply refused to take advantage of the opportunity they had to learn from their parents. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 30:11-13.
11 There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers; 12 those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth; 13 those whose eyes are ever so haughty, whose glances are so disdainful; (Proverbs 30:11-13 NIV)
Solomon knew that being a parent was a tough task–he was one. Solomon also knew that being a young person and growing up under the teaching and correction of your parents was not always easy, especially when you don’t get your way. Yet, Solomon knew the importance of a father and mother in the life of their child. He knew that God called parents to care for, teach, and correct their kids so that they could learn how to live, what to look out for and avoid, and how to experience the fullness that comes from living life in obedience to God.
Parents and young people, I want you to know that you are often prayed for by folks here at BCC. God has given you a demanding task, an often thankless task. Someone once said, “Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories.”
You need to know that God has not left you alone to raise your kids. You may be a single-parent and your job seems overwhelming on a daily basis. You need to know that the Lord is with you, He will give you insight and counsel into how to teach and correct your kids if you will just cry out to Him.
As we end our study this morning I want to plead with you who are parents and young people growing up in your parent’s household. Seek the Lord with all of your heart. Ask Him to help you understand where your parents are coming from and to remind you that they love you, even when they discipline you. Parents, cry out to the Lord to counsel you, encourage you, and show you how you can connect with your kids and lead them.
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as Lord of your life then I want to invite you to do that this morning. Confess to Him your sin, your inability to live the way God wants you to live, and let Him know that you desire Him to come into your heart.
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114