Train Them Up: Letting Go of Mom Guilt

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Prov 22:6

Mommy guilt. Yeah, it’s a whole thing. I mean, I’ve never experienced it (not being a mommy and all), but I’m married to a mommy who works very hard at shepherding our three children. I’m not sure that a daddy equivalent exists, but if it does, sign me up! Despite the all-too-common notion that dads are basically just Homer Simpson(s) without a care in the world, there are actually quite a few that try to actively parent their children. Raising kids is hard, no doubt about it. Parents worry. A lot, in fact. Each season of a child’s life brings new challenges, new routines, new adventures, and yes, new worries.

On the one hand, “training up a child in the way he should go,” is far more than an occasional Sunday morning worship service. As a pastor, I’ve met many parents who wondered why their children never prioritized the Kingdom of God when it was glaringly evident that they as parents never truly prioritized it. But, on the other hand, much more wear Proverbs 22:6 as a heavy burden, almost as if it somehow stands outside of all the promises of God. We put so much pressure on ourselves to train up our children as if their spiritual life was solely dependent on our efforts. But, when all of Scripture is taken into consideration, this is simply not the case. Weary moms, tired dads, consider the following…

  1. Proverbs 22:6 is a Proverb. Before you respond with, “Duh,” let me explain… Proverbs are wisdom-sayings that are generally true.  Don’t misunderstand me, all of Scripture is truth. But, proverbs (as a literary genre) are not promises. They are simply wisdom-sayings. How many children do you know who were raised by parents who love King Jesus, who were taught the Gospel only to grow up and reject it? Conversely, how many kids do you know who have come to love Jesus despite the unbelief or sin of the parents? Is the Bible wrong? No! Proverbs 22:6 is a proverb, not a promise. That’s good news! Yes, train up your child, but their spiritual life is not dependent on your performance as a parent.
  2. You Cannot Give Your Children Your Faith. It has to be their own. We train them by feasting on the Word of God. We make Christ the center of our home. We preach and practice grace alone. But, at the end of the day, the Holy Spirit must regenerate them. God must make them alive in Christ Jesus. We can’t do that. Nor should we think that our failures are capable of hindering God in his work. Jesus saves! Train them up in the way they should go (trusting Jesus to save them) and when they are old they will not depart from it (Indeed, if they are saved, they cannot).
  3. Training Your Children Means to Give Them a Biblical Worldview. Paul writes in Eph 6:4 to bring up our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.I’ll spare you the discourse on the Greek, but suffice it to say that this boils down to creating a biblical worldview. This is the summation of teaching our children to be Word-centered. We want so much for our kids to learn this or that, we want so much for them, but Paul (echoing Proverbs) says to give them a perspective that understands the world through Scripture, God’s revelation. Moms, dads, I know there is a lot to worry about. But don’t overthink it- don’t over-complicate matters. Give them the Word believing that it is sufficient for everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3).

Parents, grandparents, I hope this encourages you this week. Give yourself a little grace. Raising a family is hard enough without the self-imposed burdens created by our worries and fears. Your kids will be great. I know this because if you actually cared enough to read this far, it means you are pretty much all in on this parenting thing. You got this. He’s got you.


Pastor Matthew

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