"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart form it" (Proverbs 22:6)

Do you know what this Scripture is talking about? It's talking about champions. It's issuing a challenge. Mom and Dad, which of these do you want in your home — champions or prodigals?

If you want champions, let's take a closer look at Proverbs 22:6.

Webster says to train means "to prepare for a contest; to instruct by exercise; to drill; to form to a proper shape; to discipline for use." Training is not the same thing as teaching.

Training Commences with Childhood

Isaiah 28:9-10 asks, "Whom shall he teach knowledge" And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little." In short, little babies, newly weaned are learners.

The word way in Proverbs 22:6 implies a bend in a branch, bow or river. You can bend a branch when it's tender and a bow when it's green. You can change the bend in a river when it trickles into a stream. But when the branch is hard, the bow sturdy, and the river broad and raging, it's too late. Their shape and course are already set.

Training Communicates with Creativity

The phrase train up implies, putting something in the mouth to be tasted. It means literally, to touch the palate. Try touching your own palate now. It makes you swallow. In other word, parents need to create a hunger and thirst in their children for the things of God. They cannot be force-fed the Word of God.

And as parents, we cannot put anything in our child's heart that is not first in our own, any more than we can come from where we've not been.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."

Isn't that exactly what Jesus did? Walking along with His disciples, He would see someone planting a field, and He would say, "Behold, a sower went forth to sow his seed...." Or if He saw some beautiful flowers, He would say, "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow...." And in this way He would train His disciples.

Training Corrects with Consistency

Now this subject can definitely be an inflammatory argument in today's world! Too many people have the idea that their little darlings don't need to be corrected. But the Bible disagrees and gives three reasons why children need discipline.

First, it is proof of our love. "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24).

Second, it is the only way to set our children free from foolishness. Proverbs 2:15 says foolishness is found in the heart of a child and is driven out with "the rod of correction," something that stings but does no damage, such as a switch.

Third, correction helps keep our sons and daughters out of hell. Proverbs 23:14 says, "Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell."

In addition to giving chastisement when necessary, we need to set limits for our children. Without them, children feel unloved and rejected.

Finally we need to assign responsibility for our children and hold them accountable.

Training Consummates with Conversation

The ultimate purpose of training our children is to bring them to Jesus Christ. The moment your child can understand that sin is not just naughtiness but rebellion against God, he or she is ready to accept Christ. You need to lead your children to Christ as soon as possible.

I often hear people say, "I just don't believe in childhood conversions." Fortunately, God does not agree. Three out of four Christians today were saved before they turned 14!

It's also very important to remember that Proverbs 22:6 is a principle, not a promise. A parent cannot override a child's will. You can do everything right, and your child can still rebel again God.

But if you want to do everything right and give your child the best way, you have only to follow the clear plan God laid out for you in His Word.