The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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      Children are important! Our attitude toward children is important! Attention given to children is important! Unfortunately, many cultures do not always value children or allow them to occupy a place of priority in terms of attitude toward and attention given to them. Made in God’s image, children are a gift and blessing from him (Psalm 127:3) who Jesus presented as a model for faith and greatness in the kingdom of heaven (Luke 18:15-17; Matthew 18:4; Luke 9:46-48).     
      Numerous verses in the wisdom corpus highlight the value of children by presenting the necessity of proper training and productive discipline. Proverbs 22:6 is an oft-quoted verse that parents would do well to hear and heed in the context of raising their children.
      “Train up” translates the Hebrew word chanak meaning “to dedicate.” The celebration of Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in the mid-2nd century BC. Inasmuch as the temple represented the presence of God to the Jews, training up a child in godliness carries special significance. Such training should begin early when the mind of a child is impressionable. Hence, the instruction to “Train up a child according to the mouth (entry point or beginning) of his way (course of life)….”     
      God has given parents a unique stewardship privilege and responsibility with respect to the children entrusted to their care. Providing training for children is part and parcel of this parental stewardship responsibility. In what ways can parents “train up a child?” Perhaps the first and foremost method of training is by Example. Because some lessons are more “caught” than “taught,” the example of parents must be established carefully and consistently. For instance…
  • Words that are spoken should be selected and presented carefully;
  • Life’s difficulties should be handled carefully;
  • Friendships and acquaintances should be pursued carefully;
  • Attitudes and actions should be formulated carefully;
  • Hobbies and other activities should be explored carefully;
  • Priorities and use of time should be calculated carefully;
      Why should parents exercise such care and caution in establishing an example for their kids? Well, if you have ever received a package labeled “Fragile: Handle with care,” you are aware immediately that the contents may be glass or something else breakable. Thus, you also recognize that improper handling can damage and even cause irreparable harm to the enclosed object. What a parent does or does not do has a tremendous impact on a child.     
      Perhaps you have heard the story about the teenaged boy who died in a tragic car accident. When the sheriff went to inform the boy’s parents, he held an empty whiskey bottle that had been found on the floorboard of the car. The father was enraged and exclaimed in anguish “Who would dare give my son alcohol?” As he opened his own “medicine” cabinet to get something to calm his nerves, the father noticed a note in the place where his favorite brand of drink was stored. The son had written, “Dad, thanks for the drink. I knew you wouldn’t mind.”
      Perhaps you have heard the old saying “Do as I say, not as I do.” Parents, believe it or not, that kind of example does not produce the desired training in your child. My family had a few household rules when my children were small such as “We only eat at the table” or “Don’t sit on the coffee table.” On occasion I would find myself eating a snack on the sofa or perched on the coffee table while watching a T.V. program. Usually one of my children would enter the den and remind me of the household rule that I had broken. I would want to respond “I bought the coffee table and I’ll sit on it when I want to.” Seeking to provide a consistent example, however, I would simply thank the child for reminding me of my infraction. (“Daddy, you forgot your seatbelt” was another reminder that I heard frequently.) A consistent example by parents is crucial to the training up of a young child.                  
      The careful and consistent example of Christian parents must include giving God priority in his/her life. Christian parents must set the example for their children as “imitators of Christ” (Eph. 5:20) as they “imitate what is good” (3 John 11). If a parent does not make God a daily priority, then the children will not have a godly example upon which to pattern their own life. The child may say, “Daddy didn’t need God and neither do I.”

      During my experience as a student minister, I would often implore young people not to follow the example of others but to be the example for others. Children do not enter the world with a stamp “Fragile: Handle with care.” Nonetheless, children are fragile and great care should be exercised by parents to ensure that the example lived before their children will help “train up a child.” 

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the careful and consistent example of my parents. I pray that the example that I set for my children has and is producing fruit in them. May they will live a life worthy of the calling they have received and be the example for their children to follow. Amen.


P.S. Daniel Cannon Hall, III entered the world on Saturday, March 5. Rather than the possibility of “Thaddeus Judas” noted in an earlier “From Daniel’s Den,” he will be called “Cannon.” Everyone is doing well!