Why Proverbs 22:6 is Not a Guarantee

"Train up a child and when he is old he will not depart from it."  Proverbs 22:6

This is one of the most often quoted verses about raising children.  I have heard people use it as a guarantee that if a parent or church raises a child correctly, they will grow up to love and serve Jesus. 

But I do not believe it is a guarantee.  Here's why... 

Kids have a free will.  The word "train" means to coach.  We can coach children how to live for Jesus...but we can't do it for them.  At the end of the day, each person must decide for themselves if they are going to follow Jesus.  God doesn't have any grandchildren. 

Good parenting doesn't guarantee kids will grow up to love Jesus.  God is the perfect parent...and look how many of His children make poor choices, go their own way, and don't follow what He has taught them in His Word.  A lot of good parents are beating themselves up because of the poor choices their adult children are making.  Stop blaming yourself.   

Look at life.  I have seen children who came from terrible, ungodly, abusive home situations grow up to be passionate followers of Christ.  And I have seen children from the best of homes walk away from what they were taught.

Environments and influences play a huge role in a child's life, but they do not have the final say.  Friends, parents, family, home situations, teachers, and surroundings all contribute to the decisions a child makes...but they are not the final, deciding factor.  It's the personal choices of the person. 

We must pour everything we can into children's lives.  We must love them...teach them...train them...be good examples for them...pray for and with them...surround them with good friends...read God's Word with them.  The more we pour into them, the better opportunity they have to grow up to love and serve Jesus.  

But there is no guarantee.  The only guarantee we have is that Jesus loves them and wants a close relationship with them.