I once had the privilege of serving as a Youth Pastor. It was not so much the programs or Bible studies we conducted that kept them coming back each week. I found relationships are what holds youth groups together. Sally would call her friend, Amy, on a Thursday night and ask her what she was doing on the weekend. Amy would say she was going to Youth Group and they agreed to meet there. Once there I’m sure they enjoyed the activities and I know God’s Holy Spirit did His work in their hearts and minds. They grew in their relationship with Jesus.
I once had some parents come to me very upset about their 18-year-old son. He had walked a long way from his upbringing. Dad and Mum had taught their children well by word and deed, providing good testimony of what it means to honour God and follow His Son, Jesus. But, as the years went by, their son, who had publicly made a decision to follow Jesus, was in rebellion and clearly a long way from a close relationship with Jesus.
The young man’s parents were visibly upset as they shared their story. They told me they were haunted by the Bible verse, Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
“Where did we go wrong?” They asked. “Our other children are walking with Jesus, but he won’t have anything to do with the Church, the Bible or Jesus.”
I told them, first, this is a proverb, not a promise. It is a “profound saying”; an “observation”; a “common experience”. It has no guarantee. Matthew Henry says, “Proverbs are not to be understood as if they were universally and necessarily true, which experience confutes, but because it is so for the most part.” There is also the strong possibility that the writer could well have meant, “…And when he is old, it (the good training) will not depart from him.” The seeds of truth had been sown faithfully by Mum and Dad when the boy was young. I encouraged them to continue to develop their relationship with him and pray God’s Spirit would move him in toward Jesus in coming days…