Monday, April 12, 2010

"Teach or Train A Child?"

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."  This verse has always given me great hope that if I "train up" my children to love the Lord then they will not depart from that truth when they are older. We have talked with many families who have children who were raised to love the Lord, but who are currently living to please the desires of the flesh. Understanding this "proverb" is a great hope and comfort to parents who are diligently praying for that prodigal son to return. For years I claimed this as a promise instead of a proverb, but recently the Lord has shown me something very special about this proverb. It says "train" a child. I began to think about the difference in "teaching" a child and "training" a child.  "Teach - to impart knowledge and give instruction." "Train - to develop or form the habits, thoughts and behavior by discipline and instruction." I posses the knowledge to be a runner. I have been instructed in what it takes to run. I could tell you and teach you how to run, but I have not developed or formed the habits of running. I do not think and behave like a runner. I do not have the discipline to run. Do you see the difference. We can "teach" our children about Jesus. They can posses so much knowledge about God's word and the person of Jesus Christ that they could pass it along to others, but that is all it is "knowledge". We must "train" our children in righteousness. As we "train" them in righteousness then they develop their own convictions, their own habits and they can think and behave as a follower of Jesus Christ. Teaching involves giving instruction, but training encompasses instruction along with discipline. I have the knowledge to run, but no one has ever helped me develop the discipline to run. Instruction without discipline is simply knowledge, but it does not develop a life-changing habit. I cannot simply tell my children this is wrong and this is right. I have to train them. Training is not for the weary. Deuteronomy 6:5-8  "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
Training involves as we see in Deuteronomy, when we rise up, when we lie down, when we walk along the road, when we sit at home...Training is ALL the time. Training involves discipline. We don't just instruct our children but we train them through discipline, we train them by leading them in the correct actions, by encouraging the attitudes of their heart. Teaching involves our words and knowledge, training involves our full attention mentally, physically and emotionally. Training requires that we ourselves stay in shape and continue in the disciplines of our faith. A teacher tells you what you need to know. A trainer runs alongside you and continues their own personal disciplines as they spur you own and encourage you. As parents we must stay in shape spiritually. We cannot grow lazy and we cannot just spout out instructions. You have heard the old adage "Do as I say, not as I do." WRONG!  This does not hold much credibility with our children. As they see us living out our faith in our responses to each situation, our attitude being the same as that of Christ Jesus, our patience with them and our encouraging words it becomes an attainable goal for them. When they see "Hey this is not just talk, but Mommy and Daddy live this way too." It gives them hope that they too can posses this life-changing faith. It is attainable. I don't know about you but I do not remember much history, science and math from my years of being "taught." Knowledge was imparted to me and I did nothing with it and thus it is forgotten. My parents trained me in scripture, in praise, in my prayer life, in obedience to Christ and in my love for Him and for my neighbors. This is not simply a knowledge, but it has become a discipline. It is the very heart of my existence. It has become not only a habit, but it is the discipline of my thought life and the discipline behind my behavior. It is not simply a head knowledge, but it has taken root within my heart and it has become a heart knowledge as well. Head knowledge can make you prideful and pious, heart knowledge transforms you from the inside out and develops your character and becomes the core of who you are. I want my children to have hearts that posses that all consuming fire. I want their desire and their love for Jesus Christ to consume every part of their being. This will not happen if I simply impart knowledge to them. I must train them daily. "Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post, Monica. I never stopped to think about the different between training and teaching before, but you nailed it on the head. I was taught chemistry, but did not train in it. I was trained in music, and it to this day remains a big part of my life. In fact, music is as much a part of me as any other part of my personality.

    Feel free to elaborate in another post about the practical ways you apply the differences between training and teaching in terms of child-rearing.... (hint hint! lol). Your perspective always makes me think and look for ways to improve on my parenting. Thanks for posting.