The second skill which is needed in training our kids is the skill of teaching and communicating truth to our kids. As crucial as it is, it’s not enough to be a model; there needs to be an intentional transmission of truth to our kids. Look at Proverbs 4:1-9 .
Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father,
And give attention that you may gain understanding,
For I give you sound teaching;
Do not abandon my instruction.
When I was a son to my father,
Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother,
Then he taught me and said to me,
Let your heart hold fast my words;
Keep my commandments and live;
Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!
Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will guard you;
Love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom;
And with all your acquiring, get understanding.
Prize her, and she will exalt you;
She will honor you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a garland of grace;
She will present you with a crown of beauty.
Here we have an inside look at a father teaching his son or daughter. He begins by urging his child to listen to his teaching. He goes on to reflect on how his own father taught him when he was just a young child. He actually recalls some of the things his father said to him. In this conversation we have a very helpful model on how to teach our kids. There are at least three things we can learn from this.
First, we need to be bold. Both of the fathers represented here are not afraid to call their children to account. I see this in the number of commands here, as well as the fact that he seems to equate his own words with that of true wisdom. If we’re going to teach our children there needs to be a kind of godly confidence that we have something to say to them. We need to step up and accept the challenge to be grown ups in our kids’ lives and transmit to them truth that’s rooted in the Scripture. We need not apologize for this. We need not hem and haw. We have something to say and we need to say it with confidence.
Second, we need to be specific. We need to be clear about what we’re trying to communicate to our kids. As I look at this father’s teaching I’m struck by the fact that he gives the child a very specific goal to pursue. We see it in v. 5 where he says, “Acquire wisdom!” To us wisdom is a nebulous concept, but to the Jewish mind it was a very concrete thing. It had to do with the truth embodied in God’s word. To acquire wisdom meant to revere God by embracing his truth. That’s the goal we must set before our kids—a life which values God’s word.
Third, we need to be personal. As he teaches his son, this father takes time to reminisce about his own childhood. He shares something of his own experience as a child. He recalls a very tender moment when he sat at his father and mother’s knees and learned from them. This isn’t just impersonal truth he is sharing with his son; it’s part of their family heritage. It’s something his own father had given to him and now he is giving it to his child. Our kids need to hear our stories! They need to hear how truth became a reality for us. If it’s part of your family heritage, tell them about that. If it’s not, tell them about how a relationship with God became a reality for you.
So these are three things we learn from the father of Proverbs about teaching our children. The best way to do this is simply as a part of everyday life. This doesn’t all take place in one half-hour you set aside to talk to your kids about God. That’s how a religious home operates. But you don’t want to have a religious home; you want to have a Christ-centered home. In a religious home, God is compartmentalized into one time of the day or week. In a Christ-centered home, He’s allowed to permeate everything we do.
How do we train our children while they are still young? We model a life of authenticity. And we intentionally communicate the truth of God’s word to them as a part of our everyday lives.