Sunday, October 25, 2009

Training our Children for the Lord

The need for training in my children's lives has been made unmistakeably clear to me this past week. I have gone back to the basics of why and how this training will need to happen. Putting it here in writing will hopefully make me accountable to acting out this very needed and tremendous job.

Training has not always been a part of my personal life or my parenting. Up until about 4 years ago I had never thought of training in terms of personal character growth or in teaching and growing character in my children. Traditionally I just waited until I did something wrong and suffered the painful consequences. In my ignorant ways I had done the same for my children. When I first heard about pro-actively training my children it was a huge blessing. Not only for my children's sake but for my own also. No longer would we have to wait until we did something wrong and then be corrected to learn to do right. I was captivated by the idea that we could have success instead of failure.

We all have moments in our life when we make poor decisions or do wrong and need correction. As we grow these times should decrease. We should study and learn what is good and right and then do it. Sadly I have not always afforded my children this opportunity. I have waited for them to wrong and then taught them through pain. This is not ideal. Pain should never be the only motivator we have to do good. When we do not train and set forth our expectations of ourselves and our families we set everyone up to fail. When we do train and clearly communicate our standards and expectations we set ourselves and our families up for success.

After hearing about training several years ago and being taught by a wonderful, Godly, wise mother some of her ways I have grown to love training. It has been a beautiful tool at our home and really blessed the time our family spends together. One problem that I have continually faced is that I have wrong expectations or rather unrealistic expectations. I somehow believe that if I instruct the children on how to do something once, then they know and I will never need to tell them the same thing again. Oh what silly, foolish thinking that is! I set myself up to fail every time I get off track and think that my job is somehow done now that I have gone through things one time! The truth is training is continuous. Repeat, repeat, repeat and then repeat a little more. It happens all day, everyday. Whether I am purposefully training or not, it is still happening. When I have backed away from training and let the children to themselves I am training them to follow their own ways. This NEVER works and I reap such a poor harvest during these times. But, when I am on my game and dedicated and focused on my children's training oh what a beautiful result and harvest that has.

So how does one stay committed all the time? This is something I have needed to figure out, but, haven't. It use to be that I would fall into old habits of frustration and yelling. Now I see the cues much sooner in my children when they have not been receiving the training they need. Praise God he always brings me back to a place where I recognize our families need to seek him, his ways and his word. We are currently in one of these times. I pray that I don't become complacent, but get continual reminders to train, even when I think the children have it down.

Why is training so important? I believe training is extremely important. The main reason is that God has charged me with the job of preparing the children he places in our family for him as adults. He has given me around 18 years to prepare these children for his service. This is a huge job! God has wonderful and what are going to be sometimes difficult plans for these little ones in my care. My greatest joy will be to see to it that these girls are prepared for whatever God might use them for. This is the primary goal, but, there are lesser goals that come with it. I want our girls and family to stand out now and look different from the world. When people see our family I want them to see something different in the hope that they may be attracted to the difference and give us an opportunity to point them towards God. Training also has some benefits of bringing peace and joy to our lives. A child well trained will bless your home and others as well. The child will also enjoy a more calm and secure life.

Exactly how do children benefit from training? Children benefit by feeling prepared and secure. When we pro-actively train our children for different situations and when we communicate what our expectations are they will understand and know what to do and how to do it. When children are given boundaries and have a clear understanding of what will happen if they cross that boundary they are empowered to make their own choices and don't need to feel lost or confused.

Training creates freedom. We nor our children have to feel like we are controlled by our emotions. Preparing and practicing helps us to not be at the mercy of our feelings. We can learn to choose to be self-controlled. This creates freedom and feelings of peace not the confusion and frustration that results from a misunderstanding of what is expected and happening around us.

It is tempting to believe that children just like to pitch a fit or fuss to get what they want. This is simply untrue. Children from babyhood on are capable of using self-control and cheerful voices. Children do not like to feel out of control and to fuss and whine. They have been trained that this is the way to get what they want.

What we train and how is not the principle here. The principle is that we are to do the training that God commands. That will look different in each family. As I started to think about what it was God wanted me to train I looked to the bible, my husband and respected families that had successfully trained God-fearing and serving children. I am so encouraged by knowing that God will equip us to raise up a generation of children who run for him with his character evident in their life. That goal makes every long training moment and all the teaching well worth it. Praise God that he does not make us wait until our children are adults to see all the fruits of this labor. He gives us momentary glimpses of the fruit our training is producing now. I pray that these moments will motivate and encourage our family to continue on and yours as well.


  1. FANTASTIC article. I'll be printing this one up for sure. I think I'll read it aloud to my kiddos. You articulate with words what is in my heart. What an awesome reminder friend. I rally should refer back to this once a week!!!

    Between your article and The NGJ publication we received in the mail recently, I'm feeling more convicted (than usual).

    Praying tomorrow (Wed.) is a sweet day for you and your family : )


  2. Great article Jen -- maybe do one on some of the specifics of training -- Hope the time Pete's away goes quickly.