How bonsai trees reflect ministry


“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, KJV).

Caring for a bonsai requires time and patience. Nurturing children takes no less effort. In this article, Dr. Scott Turansky, co-founder of the National Center for Biblical Parenting, helps us learn how to train children in godliness.

The word “discipline” used in the Old Testament is translated from the Hebrew word, “chanak,” and means “to train.” Training implies guidance to a particular goal.

I remember visiting a bonsai exhibit with many small beautiful trees, each in their own pot. Next to each tree was a card telling the story of that particular tree. In particular, I was interested in how long the training had been going on. Many had been in process for 30-40 years and one began its training over 100 years ago.

Training takes time. Too much force will break a branch and too little care returns the plant to the wild. The same is true with children. Firm consistent discipline is needed to guide and direct kids. Some teachers and parents are tempted to have a few big consequences to “really make an impression on this kid.” Rather, many small corrections and consequences would be more effective.

Many of the problems children have are either behavioral habits or character deficiencies. It would be nice if they could have a “burning bush” experience that would change their lives instantly, but it usually doesn’t happen that way. Even Moses had to spend forty years in the desert as a shepherd leading sheep before he was ready to lead people.

Change takes time and many small corrections and reminders can contribute to long-term change in your children. So, choose a character quality your kids need, define it, think of ways to implement it, and pray that God will use your daily words and actions of correction to help your children make the heart changes necessary.


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