From Young Children to Teenagers

20 My son, keep your father’s commands
       and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

21 Bind
them upon your heart forever;
       fasten them around your neck.

22 When
you walk, they will guide you;
       when you sleep, they will watch over you;
       when you awake, they will speak to you.

We will be
looking at Proverbs 6:20-24 in the next few posts. In this post we will look
particularly at verse 22. This verse talks about the intimate activity of the Word
being in the hearts of our children. This is another way to state the truth of
Psalm 119:11:  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. This
verse is the best summary I know of the goal of biblical childrearing. It ties
closely with Paul’s call in Colossians 3:16 to have the word of Christ dwelling
richly within.


What parent
would not want to see their teenagers relying so deeply upon Scripture that
verse 22 accurately describe them? Bruce
Waltke, in his excellent commentary on Proverbs, says about these verses: “In
sum, the parental teaching illuminates the way the Lord watches over, the way
of the full and abundant life, and the way in which the son will be protected
from hidden pitfalls.” (I strongly recommend Waltke’s Proverbs commentary to
pastors and to anyone who works with children and youth. It is an invaluable

The question,
of course, is, “How does this happen?” How do we teach our young children in
such a way that they have this intimate relationship with God? How can we help
them to have his Word dwell richly within their hearts?

The place to
start is to genuinely have this goal in the first place.  The way you discipline your four-year-old child
will have a direct impression on that same child as a fourteen year old. Verse
22 is talking about the words of parental instruction that will guide, watch
over and speak to our young people. Your
formative, foundational instruction must center on God, not on your personal
convenience. If your words are to be worn as a prized necklace, if they are to
protect your teenagers from sexual sin, you must give careful thought to your
instruction. For example, consider a mother trying to plan her day. Her
children are noisy. So, in mild frustration she says:

Be quiet, mommy needs to think!

Here is a
more helpful way to communicate the same thing:

Kids, mommy needs to think about some
things. Remember, we learned that God says we should be considerate of others.
So, please play quietly for a while.

Your instruction, to be spiritually
effective, must be centered on God’s reality. He must be our reference point.
One reason for broken parental relationships with teenagers is that something
other than God dominates our instruction. Here is a negative illustration that shows the result of losing sight of
God in communication with your children.

Linkin Park
is a hugely successful rock group. Their
new releases quickly rise to the top of the charts. Their music is not what you would play to
relax. Many of their songs carry a strong message of failure in parental
communication with teenagers. One example is a song called “Numb.” The video of
this song depicts a breakdown between a mother and her daughter. This video is
available on You Tube and has over 9 million views. That’s right, 9 million. Listen to some of the lyrics
to from this song:

tired of being what you want me to be
Feeling so faithless lost under the surface
Don’t know what you’re expecting of me
Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes
(Caught in the undertow just caught in the undertow)
Every step that I take is another mistake to you

you see that you’re smothering me
Holding too tightly afraid to lose control
Cause everything that you thought I would be
Has fallen apart right in front of you

I know
I may end up failing too
But I know
You were just like me with someone disappointed in you.

song depicts a relationship gone bad. The video does not have any offensive
language, no inappropriate dress, no sexual content. It shows a teenage girl
heartbroken and then angry about a broken relationship with her mom and the mom
frustrated with the daughter. This
seemingly dull theme has attracted over 9 million views, 9,216,188 to be exact
as of this writing. If you do decide to look at the video on Youtube, be forewarned,
there are several versions of this song where the language is not clean. Look
for the one from linkinparktv.

life situation in this song is a far cry from the vision of Proverbs 6. Linkin
Park is not a Christian group by any stretch. Yet their music resonates with
Christian teenagers as well as other teens. My own son made me aware of them
three years ago. Since then, when I am talking with Christian teens, I often
mention this group and this song. Linkin Park is well-known to our teenagers.
Think about the lyrics to this song. Think about the way you talk with your
young children. Let me know what you think. More on this tomorrow.

Shepherd Press