I have very fond memories of my grandmother training me in the art of making biscuits. Teaching me seemed to make her happy. Each morning she would pull out the biscuit board drawer that was built into the cabinet. It was a board, like a table top, mounted like a drawer. It was always covered with flour. Once the board was extended she would mound two cups of flour on it. Then she would explain to me as she pushed a hole in the middle of the flour, “First make your well.” The well was just a hole in the middle of the pile of flour. To my young ears, calling the hole a “well” sounded so fine—mysterious-like. Into the well she dumped slightly warm lard, and then she added homemade buttermilk. With her thumb and index finger, working only in the well, she worked the lard and buttermilk, gradually incorporating the flour until it formed a soft dough. She rolled the dough with a rolling pin a few times, and then patted it down to about half an inch thick. With her biscuit cutter she pressed out about ten biscuits. She always had a big black skillet with butter in it warming in the oven. Each biscuit would quickly be turned in the warmed butter before she added the next one. While they baked in her hot oven, I played with the leftover dough, learning how to cut out biscuits. I can clearly remember standing there, almost eye-level with the countertop, working with the dough while drinking in the wonderful aroma of baking biscuits.
My grandmother trained me to make biscuits. She trained me to laugh while making biscuits. My mischievous streak was developed in that kitchen as I conferred with my grandmother in how we could scare Papa when he came in for breakfast. Ask my staff—I am well trained in making biscuits and in the art of scaring distracted office workers. I am the queen of “BOO!”
Oh, how dearly I loved my grandmother! As I look back, I know I must have left her floor covered with flour, yet she included me. I can’t remember a time I disobeyed my grandmother. I wanted to please her.
Her joy in helping was immeasurable; and more important, she was being trained to love working with her hands.
Today I sat at the kitchen table making guacamole out of 600 avocados. You read it correctly…600 avocados. A man in the church was able to buy a hundred boxes of avocados for a ridiculously low price. I bought ten boxes from him. My daughter Shoshanna and 3-year-old granddaughter Penelope dropped by while I was in the middle of my green venture. Penelope didn’t hesitate a minute. She was up in my lap, and where once there were two hands working, suddenly there were four. She imitated my every move. It slowed me down considerably, and green goo plopped on the floor a few times, but her joy in helping was immeasurable; and more important, she was being trained to love to work with her hands. It was Proverbs 31—Training Class 101.
Many parents get so worked up over making their children be obedient in all things they forget that training doesn’t mean discipline; it means instructing the child in how to master the issues of life. Training is the art of imparting skill sets and worldviews. Training a child in the way he should go involves taking a child by the hand and allowing him to be a part of your productive life. If you cook a meal and don’t have your little girl standing beside you as you talk her through every step of the process, then you are NOT training her up to be a good cook. If you clean house, shop, sew, have a Bible study, or any number of productive activities and you don’t involve your children, then you are not TRAINING UP your children in the way they should go.
Training a child in the way he should go involves taking a child by the hand and allowing him to be a part of your productive life.
God stated it correctly when he said, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” When you train a child to enjoy cooking, she will always enjoy cooking. When you train up a child to work, he will always enjoy the accomplishment of a job well done. When you train up a child to notice what needs to be done, to be on time, to be respectful, to work as a team, to use time wisely, and to put his shoulder to the plow, he will always be responsible and productive.
It is not a strange turn of events that one boy grows up to be lazy and another is a worker; that one woman is bitter and the other is full of joy; that one person is productive and the other expects others to pay his way; that one man is lustful and the other is self-disciplined; that one woman is emotionally crippled, and the other is wise and thoughtful.
Train up—not spank up or fuss up or even instruct up—it is TRAIN UP. Train her how to make biscuits. It starts with a well and results in a life well lived.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6