Many fathers are convinced that they aren’t cut out to teach the children, but this is simply a matter of perspective and word choice. Fathers do teach. They simply do so in a manner more respective to their natural gifts and talents. To be more specific, fathers train their children.
Training is the method most fathers are comfortable with when it comes to communicating God’s truth to their children. Both teaching and training are important aspects of imparting information to others, but each aspect has its subtle differences.
- Teaching is mostly done in a classroom, while training is often done in the lab, workshop, or on the job.
- Teaching tends to emphasize theory, while training usually involves the practical.
- Teaching generally provides the knowledge, while training helps apply that knowledge.
- Teaching talks of tools and techniques, while training puts the tools and techniques into practice.
- Teaching fills the mind, while training shapes habits.
- Teaching usually has more immediate value, while training tends to offer more long-term value.
- Teaching usually deals with general information, while training looks more closely at the specifics.
Being a dad after God’s own heart sometimes requires playing the role of a drill sergeant or instructor. Those who are chosen to become drill sergeants are given that task because they are serious, well-seasoned, and battle-hardened. Their job is to take a raw recruit and make him into a soldier in only a few months. The tougher they are on the recruits on the training ground, the more likely a soldier will survive on the battlefield.
As we look to the example of a drill sergeant, be aware that I am not asking you to emulate their harshness. Rather, I am encouraging you to emulate their tenacity towards preparing soldiers - in your case, your children - for survival on the battlefield of life. As a dad, one of your jobs is to take a raw recruit - your child - and turn him or her into a godly man or godly woman who will love Jesus and, in turn, train up yet another generation to follow the Lord.
Also, whereas a drill sergeant has a recruit for only two or three months, you have your children for about 20 years! And you get to train and instruct them every day. Because God gives you many years to raise up your children, you have many opportunities to influence and train them up—in every area of life!
Dad, your first objective is to help your children develop a heart that follows God, that delights in being responsive to Him and His commands. Your goal is to nurture in them a heart that obeys.
Benjamin Franklin summed up the differences between teaching and training this way. I added the words inside the brackets to help provide clarity:
"Tell me and I forget.
Teach me and I remember.
Involve me [train me] and I learn."
Lord, You’ve given me a wonderful family. I delight in being with these people You’ve given me to cherish…and I especially delight in You. Help me to train them up in the way they should go so that when they are old, they will not depart from it. Amen.
RENEWING RESOURCES:A Dad After God’s Own Heart by Jim George—In this fresh rerelease, learn the basics for how to be a good dad with your kids!
In what ways are you purposeful in training your children and communicating God's ways to them?
Time keeps on ticking, and children grow up quickly. Use the everyday tasks and experiences to train your children and impart wisdom.