Train up a Child

TRAIN UP THE CHILD (Proverbs 22:6)

A manual for parents and teachers



The manual has been developed from a practical experience. The theories stated have worked in the rural and urban areas. A lot of emphasis should be laid on every sentence as a lot of repetition has been avoided. A good general average frame of thought should be attached to every experience. The scriptures have been the great foundation for every activity. I have used the male gender to avoid much repetitions, never suggesting that the female is of less significance in Christ. It was first prepared as a training manual for sunday school teachers at Bukura Agriculture Institite, Kakamega on 26-28 April 1996.


1.0             Who are children?

The apostle Paul said, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” 1Cor. 13.11.

A child is a man whose speech is undisciplined, has shallow understanding and undeveloped temporal thoughts. Anyone who does not have the real revelation that the power of life and death is in the tongue (Prov. 18:21), can easily speak like a child. Understanding distinguishes us from beasts. (Psalm 49:20), a child is one whose understanding is not very far from the behavior wrought by the understanding of beasts. As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is (Prov. 23:7). A child’s thought life is still very undeveloped and it tires very quickly. They (children) can range from the age of one year to even 25 years. This largely depends on how much one has been exposed to the discipline of the word of God by the HOLY SPIRIT. Some adults are still infants spiritually. And they still need milk. The Apostle Paul spoke of the Corinthian believers as babes in Christ (1Cor. 3:1). Hence, spiritually speaking many of our adults, who are physically fathers are spiritually children, not even young men (see 1 John 2:12-14).


2.0             Why should we teach children?

A man is usually born with only God given talents. This have to be cultivated through learning and discipline to produce godly fruits. In Job 1:21, the word of God speaks of “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb”. This verse can imply that one undergoes a defined process of learning and unlearning, so as to be able to acquire substance and achieve the purposes and plans of God in his life. This is clearly seen in Proverbs 24:3, in which wisdom makes one to build to house, understanding establishes it and through knowledge is the chambers of the house filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

Everyone of us is born with a thirst to know things early at childhood. And if this ability is utilized early, a child develops godly traits which abides with him the whole of his life.


2.1  Train up

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The opposite is equally true that if a child is not trained in good godly characters, the child will end up bringing distress to the society and shame to the family. Proverbs 29:15 says, “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left himself bringeth his mother to shame.” Oh, what a verse! How much responsibility do we have as parents and grown ups, have to bring up a child and shape the child’s life! Our current trend in most areas is “a child left to himself”. And the result is truly obvious, SHAME!


2.2  God’s priority for children

God has only one major plan for children. And that major plan is that they be informed about Him and His Word and ways. Several scriptures really emphasize this major task. Inclusive of the above quoted verses we have:

Proverbs 23:13-14

With hold not correction from the child, for if thou beatest him with the rod he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

The physical correction without the spoken word, which informs inner man, to be able to change the child’s thinking will not do much. The Word of God assures that, “Though thou shouldeat bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him” (Prov. 27:22). Don’t be surprised by the word “foolishness”, the Bible says that “foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” (Prov. 22:15). Notice, it is not only a rod but “a rod of correction”.

In other words, as the rod lands on the body of the child, there must be a voice speaking about the reason for it, or the child should be thoroughly be aware that it was his fault. This is the reason why Prov. 29:15 refers to it as “the rod and reproof that give wisdom”. The child should understand that he was responsible in drawing the rod to himself. Any rod without corrective words or thoughts, or done after a long time after the mistake has been forgotten by the child, can easily affect in a bad way the love relationship between the child and the parent.


2.3  The children of Israel

The children of Israel had one major responsibility before God, that is to keep the Word of the LORD throughout all their generations. If a generation never taught the next generation about the way of the LORD, there was grave danger of the next generation falling into abominable traps. Hence Moses the servant of the LORD, instructed them to be diligent in teaching their children.

Before any one can effectively reach there must be a practical model setting, especially for children. This was and is the responsibility of parents.

Deut. 11:8

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.

Deut. 4:9-10

Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach they thy sons’ son…make then hear my words, that they learn to fear me all the days that they live upon the earth, that they may reach their children.

The Lord’s command to the parent was to diligently instruct children at every corner of life.

Deut. 18:19-21

And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down and when thou risest up. And thou shall write them upon the door posts of thine house and upon thy gates. That your days may be multiplied and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.

The same powerful scripture is almost exactly repeated in Deut. 6:6-9.

The Word of God is clear. That speaking to the children, before the rod is very imperative. Also is worthy noting that the word was first in the heart and the soul of the parents. In other word, it was to be a practical imitation.


3.0             How to assess an informed child

The actions of a child will show clearly how much change is brought by the reaching. The teaching should affect a child’s speech, character and thought. The Word of God assures of such diagnosis in Proverbs 20:11 which says, “Even a child is known by his doing whether his work by pure and whether it by right.” This is quite a easy as children know no hypocrisy, unless they are trained among hypocrites. Thus our Lord Jesus Christ used children as the model to follow in our faith, “And He said, verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”


4.0             The New Testament emphasis on children ministry

Our Lord Jesus Christ loved children. He could not side with His disciples when they tried to prevent children from coming in contact with him. In fact, He Himself called for them and H blessed them.

Matt. 19:13-15

Then were there brought unto Him little children, that He should put His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Allow little children and forbad them not, to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of heaven”; And He laid His hands on them and departed thence.

(See and take special note of the repeat in Mark 10:13-14 and Luke 18:16.)

Sincerely, this is a ministry in which much emphasis and consistency should be laid upon. In such a ministry, children are trained and a spiritual authority invokes God’s blessings upon a child. This has been the tradition among the Jews. In our heathenistic cultures, most children do not see the love of a parent to that degree. It is as if the child has to “earn to be blessed”. Some of the parents just bless the better children and regretfully curse the less fortunate. Oh! What a fear filled environment do most of the children face.


Paul the apostle was so much attached to Timothy in his ministry. And one thing we learn from the life of Timothy is that he began to learn about and from the scriptures from childhood.

2Tim. 3:15-16

And that form a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ. All scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect thoroughly furnished unto all good work.

In the New Testament, we also see the whole family addressed to have the knowledge of scriptures.

Eph. 6:4

And, ye father, provoke not our children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

2John 4

I rejoiced greatly that I found thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.

Hence, both in the Old Testament and New Testament children ministry is seen as a command from the Lord Himself. The most astounding truth is that if we do not train our children, the world, our education system or nothingnists will teach them. Remember a young mind is easily trained and informed. Oh, train up the child!


5.0             How to train children

5.1 Whose responsibility?

The first person to guide the children is parent. To neglect such a responsibility is also linked to such a parent not be entrusted with honorable tasks as being Church elders or deacons.

Titus 1:6

If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.

1Tim. 3:2,4-5

A elder then must blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to reach; One that ruleth well his own house having his children in subjection with all gravity;

(For if a man how not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

An informed parent is an important asset in training up children. This is because the parent will interact more intimately with the children than most of the other people.  A parent with more godly traits will have children with the same traits even without a word being spoken to them, This is possible in a higher degree, if they are faithfully and consistently applied.

The Lord Jesus Christ assured us that no parent can give his children evil things when they ask for good things.

If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children…Luke 11:13.

A Sunday school teacher takes up the role of a parent. This is so in cases where parents are either young in the faith or not saved or illiterate. The teacher has a great deal of work to create a common ground to have the children heat the Words of their heavenly Father. The teacher has to maintain the trust of a parent in the children. It is very serious to have an immature careless teacher training up the children. The failure of such a teacher can give an almost an irrecoverable ground to the devil. The scripture teaches us not to give the devil any foothold (Eph. 4:27).


6.0             A Child teacher

A teacher in a great part takes the role of the parent. He informs the children about the ways of the Lord and the dangers of neglecting them. And it takes the Lord Himself to burden a teacher with such a concern just like a parent.

A teacher like a parent has responsibilities which include;

Col. 3:21

Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

Col. 3:20

Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

Titus 2:3-5

The aged women, that they be…teachers of good things…that they may teach the young women to be sober, to lover their children…that the Word of God be not blasphemed.

Eph. 6:4

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath; but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.


7.0             Preparations for a teacher or trainer

In Deuteronomy, we saw that the parents had to be the examples. They had to have the Word of God in their lives before they could teach.

Deut. 11:18

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.

v.19 And ye shall teach them your children.

This is the best and abiding method of teaching. The Lord Jesus was the best of all teachers and the way He taught is the best model available for all of us.

The Bible says in Acts 1:1, that in all the things which He taught, He first did them. Then can He then truly say, follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.

Acts 1:1

All that Jesus began both to DO and TEACH.

The order is “do and teach”. This statement disqualifies or qualifies you as being a teacher. No wonder the scripture says, of let not many of you be teachers (James 3:1). Some have very little experience with the Lord. And my friend, you can imagine how many lives can be messed up through trial and error method of teaching. Paul, the Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, spoken to Titus to be the example of every thing he taught.

Titus 2:7

In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works; In doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

Timothy also received the same admonition from Apostle Paul.

1Tim. 4:11-16

These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Meditate upon these things give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself and unto the doctrine, continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt save both thyself and them that hear thee. Hence, the teacher has to be someone whose lifestyle is equipped with scripture.

Anything that is taught and taught well has to be borne by the Holy Spirit in the inner man. A revelation after a thorough examination of scripture and prayer usually shapes the life of a strong willed teacher. A teacher should not be easily made passive.

A teacher has to prayerfully read an entire text, and sometime the whole book and its historical setting. This takes time and waiting upon the Lord.

Assumptions should not be made. Some things which are trivial to the teacher are not trivial to the children. One should be active enough to go through an entire text even if he has taught it many times in the same place.

Let every scripture spoken be as it appears in the written Word. This will cause the children to be challenged to have the Word in memory and be able to follow the passage as they read the scriptures. Only the Word of God that is taught is anointed by the Holy Spirit. Only the Word of God can transform lives for it alone is alive.

Teaching must not be only be taught from memory. That is. From the mind alone. The proper teaching should be from the spirit (inner man). Hence a teacher has to get the spirit informed prior to teaching. This is how to get about it.

Study the Word of God, and let your mind retain the form of the sound words (2Tim. 1:13). In other words retain the scripture as it appears. Now if one goes to reach, only that which is in the mind, such reaching will hardy impart life of transform them. Only the spirit gives life (John 6:63). Hence the teacher is supposed to pray over the text in all holiness. This thorough prayer informs the inner man, and then the Holy Spirit anoints the message and the messenger to reach the other inner men.

This children need parents to train them.

Chepkoilel Campus Sunday school with Dr. Josphert Kimatu standing tall at the black with blue suit. This was during a trip for a joint service at Main Campus of Moi University.