Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he [she] should go, and when he [she] is old he [she] will not depart from it.”
As I pen this column, the city of Indianapolis has recorded an unacceptable total of 114 homicides in less than six months of 2021. Add to this dismal reality the fact that there have also been well over 510 non-fatal shootings and stabbings during this same time period.
A recent Fox59 news report stated, “At 10.6 homicides per 100,000 residents, Indianapolis’ rate of intentional murder is greater than that of Chicago and several other large, regional U.S. cities.” Indianapolis has become a very violent place to live.
If you listen to most debates about why violence has escalated in our city, at some point you will hear this question asked as it relates to the perpetrators (and victims) of violent crimes: “Where are the parents?”
The speculation behind this question is that our present-day dilemma with violence and homicides is directly tied to the failure of parents to be good parents. After all, the “good parents” in our society don’t raise children who grow up to be violent, homicidal or victims of homicide, right? Nothing could be farther from the truth!
Here are two harsh realities concerning this subject matter. First, an alarming number of our children are not being “trained in the way they should go.” I’ve observed a growing number of children living in homes that do not espouse the same foundational morals, values, ethical and faith-based practices that were prevalent in most homes 20 to 30 years ago.
Additionally, many of our children are not raised in the church or with any other form of faith and religious foundation. Many do not respect their own parents, elders or other adults in authority. And many are allowed to form their own opinions regarding what is the right or wrong way to approach the issues of life. Consequently, many of these same children grow up to become perpetrators and, sadly, victims of violence and homicide.
Secondly, many of our children are “trained in the way they should go,” but when they get older, they actually depart from the way they have been trained. Here’s where I will defend parents who tried their hardest to raise good kids. I’ve seen firsthand children who come from solid families, many with both parents in the home, still follow a wayward path in life that leads to prison or death. Is this the parents’ fault? Absolutely not!
So, what is “the way,” and how do we infuse this wisdom principle into more parents and, ultimately, our children? Proverbs 22:6 is sound instruction for all parents. To train is to initiate or instruct a child in “the way” as soon as he or she is capable of receiving instruction (Benson Commentary). “The way” is rooted in solid moral, ethical and, yes, religious precepts and, ultimately, practices. For the Christian, our precepts are grounded in the Bible, God’s Holy Word.
The power of this timeless principle is found in the first four words: “Train up a child…” The Wisdom Writer’s intent is to impress upon the reader that parents must begin training our children in “the way” from birth. Then, and only then, can we be better assured of the promise that when that child is older “he [she] will not depart” from “the way” they have been taught.
Dr. Preston T. Adams III is senior pastor at Amazing Grace Christian Church in Indianapolis. Contact Pastor Adams via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @DrPrestonTAdams. For more information, visit agccindy.org.