As a Christian parent, I am keen to learn how to better bring my children up biblically. So, my attention was captured by a book entitled ‘Teach them diligently: How to use the Scriptures in child training’ by Lou Priolo. Having finished reading it this evening, I would recommend it for other parents who wish to know how best to use the Bible to teach, discipline and train our children.
A key premise is the sufficiency of Scripture. ‘All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness’ (2 Tim 3:16); we should not need anything else. The author describes each of these areas in more detail, with chapters on ‘The Scriptures and your children’, ‘Teaching the Scriptures’, ‘Convicting with the Scriptures’, ‘Correcting with the Scriptures’, ‘Training with the Scriptures’, ‘The rod and reproof’ and ‘Learning to use life’s instruction manual’. There are also helpful appendices which chart specific sin issues and relevant scriptures, outline some questions which can be used to help bring conviction to a child, and which outline some methods of working through the book of Proverbs.
There were several key challenges:
1) As parents, we must know Scripture ourselves before we can seek to use it. We are taught to ‘study and do our best to present ourselves to God as approved, who correctly handle the word of God’; this takes work. It must become a priority in our lives, if it is not already. One of my favourite passages is Deuteronomy Chapter 6 where we are challenged to talk with our children about the things of God as we get up and when we go to bed, when we walk along the road together, when we share a meal – throughout many opportunities that arise throughout daily life; we cannot do this if we do not know and love those Scriptures.
2) There is no short cut, or easy route to being able to handle Scripture well. But even the small efforts we make are richly rewarded.
3) Behavioural problems should be described appropriately in Biblical language to make it clear firstly what sin has been committed, but also to provide a Biblical solution. For example, the Bible does not say anything about being ‘shy’, but does speak volumes about ‘pride’ and ‘fear’ which are two of the main underlying reasons for a child being shy. The author warns against modern ‘psychobabble’ and questionable diagnoses which may prevent us in seeing sin for what it is.
4) We should train our children gently, not expecting them to immediately grasp things and get it right straight away. He uses the analogy of teaching to do gymnastic moves, where these are built in stages with correction of error, continual supervision and encouragement until mastery is achieved; the word ‘gumnazo’ (from which gymnasium is derived’) is used frequently in the Bible to talk about such training. The author expands the analogy in a way which I found illuminating.
So, how will this change how I live?
1) Thankfulness that I have a husband who is equally committed to this, and that we have established routines of family Bible time each morning and evening; this is not a panacea, but is a helpful foundation to build upon. I realise how many wives have husbands who may not lead the family Biblically, and I mustn’t take my blessing here for granted
2) Greater resolve to meditate on Scripture and really seek to understand it so that I can help my children understand and apply it to their lives. Yes, there were times reading the book when I felt a bit overwhelmed by how much more I have to learn.
3) To seek to identify the heart issue, the sin issue, which leads to behaviours which are not right. Not to be distracted by the whining (or whatever it might be), but to try and get to the heart of the matter
4) To pray more and more. I think we do live in an increasingly godless society, and even within the church there can be an expectation that children cannot really understand the Bible, or that strict biblical discipline is ‘old fashioned’. Sometimes I feel people think we are extreme for seeking to base the boys’ upbringing on the Bible. Yet this book encouraged me to persevere, to make the most of each opportunity, to see it as our privilege and responsibility as Christian parents. We need to pray for strength, perseverance and the ability to stand in the face of temptation to compromise
As a Christian parent, there can be nothing more important than seeking to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. If you need encouragement on where to start, and how to use the Bible effectively to do this, let me encourage you to read ‘Teach them Diligently’.