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

Children are blank canvases. When children are brought into the world, they know nothing of this world. They get neither preparatory courses nor handbooks; and for anyone who has been blessed with the opportunity to bring them up and train them in the ways of this world, ours is a huge responsibility; because what we teach them, how we teach them, the experiences that we give them will form their world view and ultimately shape their lives.

Think about it. Children who are abused grow up thinking that everyone they meet is a predator and they are all out to get them. They become fearful, apprehensive and approach everyone and everything with trepidation and doubt. However, children who have been blessed with a wholesome and safe environment, one where they are able to rely on their parents for provision and protection, grow up altogether more trusting. So children are indeed blank canvases on which we, the ones in whose care they have been placed, are able to paint our own influences and shade in our own biases.

And as if that was not enough, the way we learn places an inordinate amount of importance on first experiences. The first experience that a child has of anything has the largest influence on how they are going to perceive it for the rest of their lives. Let me illustrate. Think back to a significant incident in your childhood.

Here are some questions to consider;
What do you remember?
Why do you remember it?
What did that incident mean to you?
Has it shaped the way you do things today?
Has it shaped the way you relate to other people?
What did the experience teach you about yourself?

The experience stuck because the event was meaningful to you. It could have been a first experience, it could have involved people close to you or it could have resulted in a life choice that you are living with even till today. Regardless, that experience, for one reason or another, became meaningful to you and that made you commit it to your long term memory.

In the same way, when a child is placed in our care, we hold sway over those very same facets of our children’s lives and therefore are able to greatly influence their perceptions and attitudes.

Teens are often said to have emotional baggage, and rightly so. In their 13 to 19 years, the people they have come into contact with have given them many first experiences which have shaped their lives. What was said, what they saw and even what was not said or never seen, guided them down life’s road by either opening or closing doors of opportunity.

Go back again to that experience we were talking about earlier. How much of what was said to you was deliberately and purposefully trying to send the message that it did? Did the actors even mean what they said? Regardless, did it change the way you viewed yourself? Did it change the way you viewed and related to others?

The closer our relationship with our children, the greater our influence on their lives. Don’t we find that our children, when they were young, take best to things that we ourselves are interested in? Don’t we often find that without us realizing it, our children have picked up our lingo and emulated our demeanor?

Indeed, each and every child that is placed in our care is a blank canvas and we have a solemn responsibility to bring them up in the way he should go. For make no mistake, they will be influenced, one way or another, whether we like it or not. And if we are not careful, the world will start to paint on that canvas, filling out the spaces which we have left blank.

But at the same time, we need to remember that our charge is to bring up the child in the way that he should go. Not the way the world thinks he should go, nor the way we think he should go. That means

“Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 [AMPC]

Our Father made every child unique, and we should never assume a ‘one size fits all’ philosophy to bringing up children.

This means that we should never force our children to become doctors and lawyers just because Mrs Smith and Mrs Jones from the next street have just waved their children’s acceptance letters from law school or medical school in your face. Instead, we should honor our Father’s intent in His original design for them, for remember,

“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

So your child may not be designed to be a doctor or an astronaut. Perhaps he was designed to be a writer, or a painter, or a dancer. But just because your child does not seem to be gifted in the areas that are profitable in this world, it does not make your child any less valuable.

For “If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?” 1 Corinthians 12:15-19

You cannot imagine the number of parents who have passed through my door and demanded that their child be schooled in subjects that they have absolutely no affinity for. Just because that subject will stand them in better stead to secure the course of their parent’s choice in the university, they demand that their child be given the chance to offer that subject even though he has been failing miserably and would be better off spending his time on subjects which he has no problems acing.

And these are the sort of parents we should not be; training up our children in the way we think he should go, so that he can get a head start in this world, whilst ignoring his individual gift or bent. Yes, being able to make it in this world is important, but isn’t developing the gifts which our Father designed for him, the gifts which he will be able to use to bring glory to Him when the fruits are fully ripe, more important? And while we are bringing our children up according to their individual gifts, will not our Father be faithful and provide for our needs along the way?

“But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:24-26

We are part of a larger family, God’s family. So all the more we should be encouraging and edifying, upholding and uplifting our children as they seek to develop the gifts which our Father has given them, gifts which will serve the greater good of the body of Christ and ultimately bring glory to Him through its fruits.

And this brings me to the miracle in this entire arrangement. Did you realize that even though our Father formed our children, breathed life into our children; even though they were wonderfully and perfectly made for His purposes and imbued with the gifting of His design, He placed the responsibility of bringing up the child and training the child, in our hands?

Think about it. If you wrote a computer program or created some form or artificial intelligence, would you not program the perfect opinion of yourself into that creation? Think how Robocop is programmed to never disobey any commands given by OCP leadership and you will understand what I mean.

But instead, our Father creates that perfect blank canvas, gives it to us and tells us to paint upon it the love and adoration that we think He deserves, write upon it the respect and worship we think is due Him. I mean, come on, the last time He put creation into our hands, Adam let the devil in and wrecked everything. Yet, isn’t it amazing that our Father loves us enough to trust us again and again, to do the right thing, even though He knows we are almost always going to mess it up and He will have to clean up our mess for us? How many parents have you seen who have made a mess of their children’s lives through bad parenting; and it is instead their children who pull their parents back from the brink after being themselves pulled back from the brink by our Father?

Beloved, our children are blessings from our Father. But not blessings in the way that we think blessings should be. They are not here to bring us material wealth. They are not here to guarantee our future nor are they here to be our retirement plan. And they sure as hell are not our old age insurance scheme.

What they are, are reminders of just how much our Father loves us, and trusts us, despite our failings. What they are, are reminders of just how much of a success our Father has made us, despite our own weaknesses. When we accept our children for who they really are, who our Father made them to be; when we accept that our children have been blessed with gifts which we may not always immediately see the value of, we see just how much our Father accepts us and has been able to hone the gifts in us which the world once did not bat an eyelid to.


“Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 [AMPC]

But when you do this, you are not doing them a favor. They never asked to be born. They never chose you as parents. So how could your bringing them up be a favor to them?

Instead, when you bring them up in the way they should go, in the way that our Father designed them to be, you will have your eyes opened to just how much love and trust our Father has in you, and you will realize just how much more you can trust in His love. For if the perfect God trusts imperfect man, how much more can imperfect man trust in the love of the perfect God?

So look at your children with different eyes today; and through their lives, let our Father show you just how loved and how treasured you are by Him.

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