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Life At Its Best: Training children to win

June 17, 2011 at 1:17 a.m.

Jim Graff

By Jim Graff

Whenever I got into trouble as a kid, there was one sight that would quickly straighten me up: Dad taking off his belt. Why? Because I knew what he was going to do with that belt, and I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. Though my dad was 5-feet, 6-inches tall and 150 pounds, he might as well have been 7-feet tall and 385 pounds in that moment.

Then, right before my spanking, he'd say something I absolutely hated. He'd say, "Son, this hurts me more than it hurts you." I'd think "Yeah, right," and another phrase would pop into my mind: "Liar, liar, pants on fire." As an adult, I've found that what my dad was saying wasn't a lie; it was the truth. I've never liked to discipline my children, but I've found that it's worth it in the end.

Instead of using the phrase I hated as a child, I have a new one for my kids, and it's this: "If I'm hard on you now, it'll be easier on you later. But if I'm easy on you now, it'll be hard on you later." Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it." There's a role parents are supposed to take on as trainers in our children's lives. But what exactly does a trainer do?

Think about Olympic trainers. They don't just stick their athletes in a classroom with film and say, "Watch this and figure out how to become a great runner." No, they watch their actions closely, helping them to make small adjustments so they can perform to the best of their ability when the big day comes. That's what we're called to do. As parents, we must be willing to act as trainers, instructing our children on how to lead godly lives so that they're ready when the time for their race comes.

There are three words I've focused on in training my own children, and I believe the same will work for you. The first is stories. Giving your kids accounts of what God has done in people's lives will create a hunger in their hearts to experience the same. The second is statutes. Teaching them principles from God's Word will plant seeds of belief in their hearts, filling them with confidence that they can run their race well. The third is stubbornness. Targeting any stubbornness in their hearts will soften them to respond to God's Word in a way that'll put them on the path to success.

In Deuteronomy 6:6, God says, "These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts." Did you catch that? He said your hearts. We can't expect God's word to be on the hearts of our children if they're not first on our own. So let's teach the truth, and let's live the truth. Together, we can raise a generation of young people who love God and stay committed to Him.

Jim Graff is the senior pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria, Texas. www.faithfamilyvictoria.com.

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