John Piper: Are Parents to Blame for Prodigals?

“…when our kids don’t do things we think they should do or do things we think they shouldn’t do, to look back and say, ‘Could I have done better?’ And the answer is almost always yes.” - Desiring God


Giving a lesson is not the same thing as training. Proverbs 22:6 talks about training. Anyone who has had a well trained horse or a well trained dog knows they can trust that animal to do what it was trained to do. They do not depart from it. But I think most of us have had a dog that has been given a lesson but was not fully trained. You do not expect that dog to be reliable to do the task it was given a lesson for. This is a reminder to us as parents that we need to do much more than just give our kids a few quick lessons. We need to spend time training and retraining them. We need to realize that sometimes they will not understand the training we are giving them and so we will need to try a different method of training. It also means correcting when it is clear the lesson has not been learned.

If you want a well trained hunting dog or a well trained horse, it takes time and patience. The same is true for any skill we are training our children to do. Think of a child that is trained in music. They will have those skills throughout their lives. The same is true of a child that is trained to fix cars or to do woodworking or art. We should expect the same in the area of godliness.

The problem is that a child could be given lessons in music but never really get trained in music. I was such a child. I found out later that I likely have musical dyslexia and thus musical details never made sense to me. I got a lot of lessons. Much training was directed in my direction, but I did not actually get trained because I was not able to understand. Others do not get trained because they just are not interested or disciplined enough.

Similar things can be said about the training in godliness. If my kids are not interested in learning to fix cars, I'm not that bothered and I will not spend a lot of time trying to figure how to make them interested enough to learn. I obviously cannot even teach them much about music. But if they are not interested in the things of the Lord, then I will try to figure out how to teach better so they actually learn and get some training that sticks, because that is what is really important.

For our kids, the training in godliness comes from a lot of different directions. They are in church, but we also talk about applying God's word as we go about our day. Essentially the teaching they got in church is reinforced and built upon the rest of the week. Further, we have a Monday night Bible study each week where they hear the word of God discussed, questions asked, and best of all they hear from others how it was applied in their lives. They are getting more than just a lesson here and there, they are getting training that is being reinforced and built upon.

Lessons are often forgotten but training sticks.

Pr 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. (NASB)