Train Them Up: Developing a Plan

by Ginger Whitehorn

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I’m a mom to three boys. Many years ago, God gave me a burden to do my very best with my boys. Raising them was “my job,” and I was to treat it like one.

I needed a plan. 

Specifically, I needed a plan that addressed their spiritual needs—you know, the part of them that will last forever and, hopefully, make an impact for all eternity. I sought God’s Word for my plan.

“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 1 Timothy 3:16-17

I’m sure there were plenty of ideas out there but “Abba” told me to go to Him and not somebody else. God is always all about our relationship with Him, and He drew me close as He impressed upon me that my family, like every family, was unique. We had different interests and different learning styles. He revealed to me His customized plan for my family.

God says in Proverbs 22 to “train a child in the way he should go.” Train means to initiate, teach, dedicate, consecrate, or inaugurate. Training is purposeful and requires planning. God led me to scripture to set some goals—both long term and short term.

One of the long-term goals was for my boys to love God and His Word with all their hearts (Matt. 22:37).

A short-term goal to support that when they were young was introducing them to God and His Word by acting out Bible stories together. It was a fun way of engaging several of their senses and made the stories easier to remember. Now that my boys are older, we do Bible studies together like Experiencing God, by Henry Blackaby. We also listen to books as we drive on family vacations like Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love. As of now, we’re reading The Chronological Bible as a family and doing a Chronological Bible study with it.

Another long-term goal was memorizing scripture.

The short-term goal years ago was listening to verses set to fun music. Steve Green’s “Hide ‘Em in Your Heart” CDs were great, and are still available! These days we keep scripture index cards on the kitchen table, and work on memorizing one per week while we eat together. We don’t always make that goal, but at least we are trying!

One of the most challenging long-term goals has been training my boys to have a Biblical worldview, and knowledge about apologetics – defending their faith.

When they were young, we looked at the book Operation World at dinner, where countries are listed along with general facts about the people, answers to prayer, and prayer needs for each region. Then, each day we prayed for countries we read about. Later, we did Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project together, watched and discussed countless YouTube videos of pastors like Tim Keller, Ravi Zacharias, and others, on defending the faith we proclaim. Our boys are in public schools, and this is an area they deal with a lot.

As I’m writing this, my family is preparing to leave for Nicaragua. It’s the second time for all five of us to go on our church’s youth-led mission trip. This is one of THE greatest things we have ever done with our kids.

It is a short-term goal supporting our long-term goal of raising soul winners with compassionate and servant hearts.

We started when they were little guys doing local mission work and have been incredibly blessed to expose them to international missions later in life.

These are only a few of the goals God impressed upon me early on, but devising a plan and setting goals has helped me be intentional through the years, “making the most of every opportunity.” It is my heart’s desire that God would use my feeble efforts to raise my three boys to be godly men who love and serve Him with all their hearts!

I encourage you to start now, wherever you are in your season of parenting, and ask the Lord to help you faithfully train your children to love God and know Him intimately. Ask Him to give you divine insight about your unique family – their interests, gifts, learning styles, and needs. Be intentional with your time and have the indescribable joy of watching God produce everlasting fruit in your kids – for His kingdom and His glory! Before we know it, our children will grow up and move out before our very eyes.

Lord, we know our efforts are meaningless without Your hand upon them. As the Psalmist says in 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds a house, it’s builders labor in vain.” Let us turn to you and your Word, above all else, in training our children in righteousness.

Ginger Whitehorn

*After years of managing political campaigns, working as a freelance percussionist, and leading in worship, Ginger is glad to mostly stay home and raise three boys with her husband of 27 years. While she still manages to squeeze in some drumming and singing in order to maintain some level of her sanity, she feels blessed to mainly focus on her family these days. One of her main focuses is discipling her boys, but discipling in general has always been a part of her life. She has been gracious to share her wisdom in this particular area with the Missional Motherhood Community!

*How are you personally planning goals for your family and developing strategies to meet them? We’d love to hear your ideas, personal testimonies and experiences, and how you are striving to be intentional to train your children in righteousness. Feel free to leave a comment below!

3 comments

  1. Stephanie Redmond says:

    I love your intentionality with your boys! As I have several long term goals for my 3 children, I am reminded to break that down into practical short term goals. Thanks for this important reminder!

  2. Sarah Clark says:

    This was so encouraging to me as a mom of a three year old boy with autism. Thank you for this post and the reminder!

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