Train a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not turn from it.
You probably don’t know that 30 pounds ago I used to be a mountain climber. Climbing took me all around the world and I was fortunate to be on 5 peaks more than 20,000’ feet high. I say fortunate, because as a self-taught mountain climber there were many times God could have taken me home.
One of the first climbs I helped to lead was the Grand Teton in Wyoming. I was climbing with my roommate from college. I remember I was leading a 150’ pitch from a ledge overlooking several thousand feet of exposure. If you fell, it wasn’t a question of if you would die, it was a question of if they would find body parts.
Now I thought I was a mountain climber. I thought I knew what it meant to lead a climb. I even had the chalks and slings to fix the route. I started up the pitch putting protection or anchors in about every 20 feet. The lead climber drags the rope up the climb, places anchors in the rock and clips the rope into the protection. Then, if you fall the anchors along with the belay from your partner should stop you from falling off the mountain. After 30 minutes of climbing my partner who was belaying from the other end yelled, “Rope.” I had reached the end of the rope and when I looked down at the top of my partner’s head, to my horror I saw that every piece of protection had come lose. My anchors had popped out.
I was 150 feet above a three thousand foot drop off and my only protection from dismemberment was my partner 150 feet below.
In that instance I was faced with the fact, maybe I shouldn’t claim to be a mountain climber just yet. Maybe I need more training if I’m going to live to be a mountain climber.
The consequences of my misguided leading could have been severe, even fatal.
I’ve lost track of the number of older parents and grandparents who have approached me at Family Time Training and said to me with sadness in their eyes, “I raised my kids in the church. They no longer go and my grandchildren aren’t even being raised in the faith.” Then they’ll say with a glimmer of hope, “But I’m clinging to God’s promise, ‘Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.’”
Is it possible to train a child in the faith and see them choose not to follow Jesus?
It is possible not to train a child in the faith and see them choose to follow Jesus?
However, I believe we are asking the wrong question in relationship to Proverbs 22:6. The question I believe we need to address is “Are we really training children in the way they should go?” Taking kids to church and saying prayer at meal time is a nice start, but it is very clearly not God’s plan for anchoring our children in the faith. God’s plan is family as the primary spiritual teacher, spiritual training taking place 24/7 while the church providing support.
God commanded our forefathers to teach their children the law, so the next generation would know them. Even the children yet to be born and they in turn would teach their children. (Psalm 78:5)
The family is the primary source of spiritual training, not the church.
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them as you sit at home, when you walk along the road, as you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 6:7)
Spiritual training takes place 24/7, not just one or two hours on a Sunday morning.
On the Grand Teton, I was clinging to a rope that was offering just a little protection from fatal consequences and I didn’t even know it until it was almost too late! To a parent whose child is not following the faith, Proverbs 22:6 is like their rope. The question is, “Is the rope anchored to the Rock?”
Are we training up children—family as primary and spiritual training 24/7—in the way they should go?
By Kirk Weaver
Husband to Trudi
Dad to two
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Founder and Executive Director of Family Time Training