Weekday Devotionals

Written by: Tony Tolvo

Verse: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Pro 22:6 KJV

Thoughts: Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Eph 6:1-4 KJV

As Pastor Aaron was sharing thoughts and insights into these verses, I couldn’t help but reminisce back to when our children were very young, and we were neck deep in our own Child Training. We understood the metaphor that teaches that each child is born carrying a “book” with them. This book is full of blank pages in which we write daily as they are navigating the journey to becoming an adult. When they go visit a friend, go to a Sunday school class, public or private school, they carry that book with them and someone else besides their parent is writing in that book. As much as we might want to have complete control of every word that gets written, that is certainly not the reality. While we can control most of what gets written in their book when they are very young, our goal was to train them in such a manner that they would become responsible for their own book.

It's easy to review the above verses and it’s good to speak them to our children, but what does it really look like to:
“Train up a child in the way he should go…”
“provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” ?

While preparing to write this devotional, I reviewed some blogs that I have followed over the years and came across an article about training of all things…Mules! You read that correctly…Mules. You might be surprised at the wisdom that must be used when trying to train these notoriously stubborn animals. Of course, we humans created Mules because horses and donkeys don’t breed in the wild.

From the article:
“The expert mule trainer said, “A mule has two brains: one Acting Brain and one Reacting Brain.” He was not talking about the physiology of the mule; he was talking about its psychology. He went on to explain that as long as the mule is calm, he is thinking and trying to relate to you. In that mental state, you are able to communicate with him and he is able to discern what you want and how to please you.

But if you push the mule too far and respond to him in anger or frustration, he decides that he cannot please you and he starts reacting to your aggression with his own aggression or with flight. Your goal is to get the mule to voluntarily cooperate with you—to think and to act. If you get upset and the mule gets confused, he starts reacting instead of acting. In that disturbed state, the mule is not capable of learning anything other than to fear you and resist you. When he stops trusting you and thinking in terms of pleasing you, you may intimidate and coerce him into submission, but you have not trained him.”
 
Have you ever been the parent that tries to ignore your child’s behavior until it becomes so irritating that you are provoked into reacting? I have and it’s not enjoyable. A basic rule of thumb that my wife and I followed while our kids were growing up was…              
If we’re not enjoying our kids, there’s something wrong.
So, if this in any way resembles your situation, what can you do?

Pastor Aaron bullet pointed this very well:
Model Godly behavior
Don’t be overly critical
Be willing to apologize
Be gracious

Finally, Brethren (I always wanted to say that) convince your child how much VALUE they have. How much JOY they bring into your life.

You can’t do this in times of confrontation. Your child would see right through this as a tactic, they know when they need to be corrected and if you don’t follow through on the correction, they will lose respect for you.

In the good times, do something fun together. Enjoy his or her projects. Laugh at his or her adventures. Call someone else, and let your child hear you tell them how smart or strong or tough they are. Be creative with the ways in which you can be pleased with your child.

As parents, it is our responsibility to promote a shared feeling of compassion between us and our children. It is only when our children can be relaxed in our presence that we are able to train them in a manner that leads to character.
It is that very character that will empower them to take control of their books and make wise choices as to who is granted that awesome privilege of adding words of life into those books.

Love y’all…
Tony