Parable of the Trained Children
Now there was a certain family that sat down for dinner and as the kids picked up a slice of delicious pepperoni pizza, the parents began to talk to them about the importance of eating healthy. As the family would go to McDonald's 3 times a week, the parents would occasionally bring up how it’s better and more nutritious to eat healthy home cooked meals. When the family would be at home playing video games with their Dad for two hours before going to watch 3 hours of T.V. that night, their parents would talk to them about how important it is to play outside, to get some sun, and to exercise. The parents would enroll their kids in a “FAT Kid’s Summer Camp” for one week during the summer, so they would learn more about eating and living healthy; and then through the nine month school year the kids would eat cafeteria hamburgers and get a couple of bucks each day to buy a candy bar or soda as a snack. And when the parents are feeling down about how unhealthy they were as adults, they put the kids on the same diet that they were committing to… for a week. When all was said and done, did the parents train their children to live healthy or unhealthy?
Two questions: 1) In regard to nutritious and healthy living; what will be the children’s habits and lifestyle when they get older? 2) Isn’t it true that while they taught (gave their children knowledge) their kids how to eat nutritious and live a healthy lifestyle, they actually trained their children to eat junk and live an unhealthy life-style? You see, it’s not that they never taught their kids what was right; it is that they never trained their kids to be/do right!
The point can be clearly seen that there is a distinct difference between teaching and training. While it is important for a parent to teach their kids – give them proper under-standing and knowledge – it is just as vital for parents to train – consistently progressively discipline the application of teaching - their children. It is the basic misunderstanding of the difference between teaching and training that causes so many to look back at their work as parents and say “where did we go wrong?” In the aforementioned example, it could not be more clear that the parent’s taught their children one thing, but trained them entirely different.
Consider the devastating spiritual parallel. Parents that teach their kids they need to look for a spiritual partner to marry, and to value the internal, yet the child is always hearing their parents make comments about how tacky that person looks, or how homily this person or that person dresses – training the child to always evaluate and be critical of physical appearance and actions. Parents teach their kids about how important it is to spend more personal time reading their bibles or praying to God, yet the child never received enforcement from the parent to engage in the activity, and the parents them-selves are often found watching T.V. or talking on the phone rather than reading their bible or praying – training the child to do the same. The parents enroll their kids in “religious” type summer camp for one week out of the summer, but during the rest of the year they engage in activities keeping them from being with their spiritual family – like baseball, softball, football, band, etc. Or they spend time with kids and/or friends their age that are not a good and godly influence. Or perhaps the parents are perpetually weak – going to church just off and on (like a diet) – and the children grow up just going to church when their parents are in a period of conviction and strength, but when that fades they no longer attend – teaching the children it is important to go to church, but training them to just go occasionally, and treat it like a fad.
“Train up a child in the way that he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) Oh the lament of parents who have taught their children faith and righteousness yet trained their children in weakness and wickedness. How true the verse is. The problem is not so much what we teach our children, but our lack of train-ing our children. May we commit to understanding the difference between teaching and training, and strive to do better with both… for the sake of our children (Proverbs 1:8-9), for sake of our own happiness and peace (Proverbs 10:1; 15:20; 23:15-16; 23:24), and for the sake of God’s glory (Ephesians 6:1-4).