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Let's be honest: Well adjusted kids don’t just “happen.” That’s why God continually stresses in His Word the necessity of bringing our kids up and training them in the ways of the Lord. Only with consistent training will they become well-adjusted.
Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, gives us God’s wisdom when he says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). This verse is packed with applicational gems.
The word “train” comes from a word root that means “palate” or “roof of the mouth.” The ancient Arabs used a form of this verb to denote the action of a midwife rubbing the palate of a newborn child with olive oil or crushed dates to give it a desire for food and take nourishment. The word connotes the idea of “creating a desire for” or “creating a taste for.” Proverbs 22:6 thus calls on Christian parents to develop in a child a personal desire for the things of God — a hunger for His Word and a desire for fellowship with His people.
If the child at a young age is given a desire for the Lord and His ways — if he “tastes” the reality of genuine godly experiences and the joy of following His Word — he will not want to turn aside from his spiritual heritage when he reaches adulthood. It will stick with him for his entire life.
We might paraphrase the verse, “Create a taste for the things of the Lord in your child, and even when he becomes mature he will not depart from his spiritual training.”
Training: A Step Beyond Teaching
A thorough teacher goes a step beyond teaching into training. Training involves supervised “on the job” application of what has been taught. You and I as parents are called to be trainers, not just teachers.
Kathi Hudson wrote a helpful book entitled Raising Kids God’s Way, and in it she recounts a story told by her father that I think perfectly illustrates the difference between teaching and training. Consider the words of this man:
Since World War II, I’ve been a trained commercial pilot with an instrument rating. Because of my good training and extensive experience, I could sit a young, 21-year-old man in a classroom and teach him: FAA and Naval Regulations; navigation; aircraft ordinance; mechanical indoctrination, and radio procedures. He could pass all the examinations just fine. He would have had good conscientious teaching.
However, if I were to put him in a new jet fighter plane, pat him on the helmet and say, “Have a nice flight, son,” what would happen? It is likely he would crash and burn before he ever got off the runway. Why? He had good teaching but NO TRAINING.
Training always involves teaching, but teaching seldom includes training. Teaching with actual flight training is what is necessary to keep the young pilot safe, and (as well) not ruin the $15 million fighter plane. Training would insure him of a good future in flying. So it is with our children. They need for us to follow God’s plan of training.
To train this young man, I would take him on flights where I piloted, so I could model proper procedure. Then I would fly with him — giving him some independence but being there to offer advice and handle emergencies. Through this process, he would learn how to make important decisions, gain experience, and have complete control of his flight.
Only after a great deal of practice in the air would he be trained for a solo flight. Then, as situations arose he would automatically respond properly, because of his extensive practical training. He’d be on human autopilot. He would automatically do the right thing, from good training.
The moral of the story is simply this: Let’s train — and not just teach — our children in the things of God! We need to model for them what it means to live as a Christian. We need to give them “on the job” training so they can learn to “pilot alone.”
 Based on class notes from Dr. Howard Hendricks’s course, “The Christian Home,” taught at Dallas Theological Seminary, 1980.
 Kathi Hudson, Raising Kids God’s Way (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1995), p. 14.
— Dr. Ron Rhodes