Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
How often we have heard this scripture and perhaps it has always meant that if we teach our children about living the right way, they will live by those standards. Yet, maybe God was in addition telling us something else.
Each of us comes into this world designed uniquely by God. He has a plan for each of us and He equips us to accomplish what He has designed us to do. How I wish we had understood this when our children were young. We didn’t know we were to seek the Lord to discover what He had designed each of our children to be.
Instead we attempted to treat all our children the same. Had we realized that each child was uniquely created, we would have known how to truly train up each child in the way he or she should go.
Looking back we now see hints of how each was created when we remember things that set them apart from an early age. Our daughter, the oldest, was creative from day one. She had a bubbly personality and was an extreme extrovert. She was so self-sufficient that it never occurred to us that she needed encouragement like everyone else. We thought she was doing fine on her own, but even high achievers need more than just praise for what they do. I wish we had known that and spent more time listening to her heart.
Our son, the next in line, was curious and inventive, but as an introvert he kept many things inside. We pressed him to be more outgoing and interactive and wounded him by setting expectations that were never his. In a family of type A personalities, he was laid back and we constantly pushed him to more lofty goals. It wasn’t until years later that we discovered God has given him the ability to see things from a unique perspective. He is not only inventive, but has discovered so many unique ways of approaching challenges. What a blessing it would have been to have appreciated all of that as he grew up.
Our youngest, another son, suffered many ill affects from our marital problems and it was many years before who he really was began to emerge. He always hated school and since neither of his siblings had that problem, for years we just forced him out the door every morning. It wasn’t until he was almost finishing high school that we realized there were alternatives that in the end were a great blessing to him. By tailoring his education to what he needed by the time he was in college he loved learning. That love for learning has helped him to become a caring problem solver who is always there to meet someone’s need. He hears people’s hearts.
We have repented to our children for not knowing these things as they grew and have encouraged them to seek the Lord for their own children. Generational patterns are strong and we often see them repeating things we did, but we know they are still far more equipped parents than we were.
So we encourage you today to begin asking the Lord how He created your children and what is unique about each one that He wants you to nurture. And when you gather round your table, talk with them about what is in each of their hearts. What do they love doing? (You may have to explore this area frequently. Playing video games or social media might come up first.) What brings them peace? What brings them joy? This may not be easy at first, but do it frequently and listen as God begins revealing His unique creation in each one.
As God begins to to show you the treasure within each child, ask Him how to develop each one for the mission He has assigned. How many of us as adults never had anyone do this for us? Think of the blessing it would be if every child begins to understand how they were uniquely fashioned by the hand of God. And it’s never to late to begin, even if your children are older.
Father, that You that we are each uniquely and wonderfully designed by You. Thank You that You have a purpose for each of us when we come to earth. May we begin to recognize in each family member the beauty of Your creation and purpose. Help us to see each other through Your eyes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.