When I was in Junior High, my basketball coach was fairly hard core. We weren't tall, so our game had to be based on speed. We had to be quick to the ball when it was loose and get down the court faster than our opponents. If we couldn't jump higher than them, we had to be there to box them out further from the basket. In a tough environment, you have to train to win.
One practice after a game where the coach felt we coasted and lost the game because of it, we ran. And we ran. Suicide after suicide (ball players may know what this is, and it isn't fun). Sprint after sprint. I still picture my friend Mark's face as pale as a sheet and guys doubled over ready to pass out. We never coasted in a game again. And I would argue that we were in better shape than most any team we faced. I didn't appreciate the approach at the time, but it trained us for battle.
Parents, we are to "train" our children (Ephesians 6:4). Christian, we are to "train" in order to win the prize that doesn't fade away. (I Timothy 4:7-8); be trained in righteousness by the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16); train ourselves so we can distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:4); and view any hardship we face in life as discipline, or a part of our training (Hebrews 12:11).
Training involves discipline. Training our children is not taking them to church and trying to be good people at home. Training is knowing your child, instructing them in the Bible, understanding how they think and where they need correction; directing them; helping them learn proper eating, handling of money and developing healthy relationships, all in a way that honors Christ. It is taking time with them, helping them develop their minds and hearts in godliness.
Training takes time, effort and intentionality. Training is discipline. It takes exercising your mind, body and soul. Training requires correction and rebuking for things that are not right. Training takes constant encouragement, support and mentoring. It is the daily task of life.
Many of us weren't trained, we were raised. And many of us avoid training today because we don't want to put forth the effort. But the harvest of training is a righteous life. And isn't that the goal? Not a righteous life that comes from us, but from the Father who trains us.
Let's not just do life or raise our kids. The time is short. Let's be in training and train those around us. Rather than falling into the trap of thinking we must sin and our children must sow their wild oats, let's stand strong in Christ and prepare them so that the stories of brokenness do not have to be passed down from generation to generation.
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children— Psalm 103:17