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Why "Treign" Up?

The bulk of our letters thus far focused on identifying the problem statement and its root causes.

Here’s what we have so far:

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Boys are failing as indicated through a variety of noted trends and statistics leading to a state of perpetual boyhood and the failure to mature into responsible biblical manhood.

The root causes of this problem seem to be:

  • Dad Deprivation - A lack of intentional fathers or any fathers at all in the home.

  • Disengagement: Our education systems do not engage our boys as they are not crafted in a way that best fits the needs of boys.

  • Distortion and denial around biblical manhood leading to the demonization of masculinity.

Wicked Problems

It’s important that this is noted as a wicked problem as are most other societal problelms. This was a term that was created in the 70’s by Melvin Webber and were given certain characteristics to categorize them some of which I’ve detailed below:

  1. Information is incomplete or contradictory

  2. Conditions are constantly changing

  3. There are innumerous interdependencies within the complex system that gives rise to others

  4. Wicked problems have no stopping rule—there’s no way to know whether your solution is final

  5. Solutions to wicked problems are not true or false (right or wrong); they can only be good or bad

  6. Every solution to a wicked problem is a “one-shot operation” because there is no opportunity to learn by trial and error—every attempt counts significantly

  7. Wicked problems do not have a set number of potential solutions

  8. Every wicked problem can be considered a symptom of another problem

There are rarely simple solutions to a wicked problem and most proposed solutions are neither wholly right nor completely wrong. It is even likely in this type of problem to create unintended consequences. Some examples of wicked problems are:

  • Biodiversity Loss

  • Poverty

  • Homelessness

  • Sustainability

Sometimes, root cause analysis can be a never-ending task because, by definition, there is no single cause of a wicked problem. There is no single answer to an adaptive challenge.

However, what is important to note about wicked problems is that we only need to know ENOUGH to engage in the conversation and trust that we will learn more as we work together on it. Ultimately, this section is added to mark a level of humility in our writings and communicate that all we can do is try our best. We’re certain that, over time and conversation, we will look back and need to improve our philosophy and proposed solutions.

Train up a child…

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way that they should go and when they are older they will not depart from it.”

This is a go-to verse for many parenting ‘how to’ books. But, it is not a PROMISE. The Proverbs are sayings of Solomon or sayings that Solomon gathered over his life. They are wise and generally true. But they are NOT promises of God. Many parents have assumed the guilt of raising children who made bad decisions despite their upbringing. These same parents will point to this verse and cry out to God (and others), “I did everything you told me to do!” We all know parents who are good people and raised their children up in Christian homes, checking off all the ‘boxes’. These same children have made bad decisions and have turned their backs on God and his ways.

Have you ever heard of the musical “Children of Eden”? It is a beautiful retelling of the heartbreak of fathers from Adam to Abraham to Israel and beyond. Even God was disappointed with the way his children behaved! Talk about getting kicked out of the house! That’s tough love, isn’t it? Conversely, we know parents who haven’t gotten a clue about godly parenting and have children following the Lord. There’s no sure formula. But Solomon’s proverbs certainly aren’t useless either. They are in the Bible for a reason and they are ‘wise sayings’. They are just not promises.

The Blue Letter Bible is a wealth of knowledge regarding all things in the Bible to include original language and meanings of words. The word ‘train up’ in the original language is ‘hanak’. It is used five times in the Bible. Four times it is used to mean ‘dedicate’ and once, here in Proverbs, it is used to mean ‘train up’. The definition means to dedicate, inaugurate or train up. The word for “the way he should go” means way, road, distance, or journey. The ‘path’ may figuratively be a ‘course of life’. It infers habitual patterns of living. It appears 70-plus times in Proverbs alone in such places as:

Proverbs 4:14, “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.”

Proverbs 9:6, “Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.”

Proverbs 16:25, “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but they end in death.”

As you can see, the meaning is generally to “initiate or train up a child according to the ways of the journey”. The context is clearly in the admonition of the Lord and the ways of God.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Proverbs 16:11, “You have made known to me the path of life.” (A different Hebrew word, ‘orah’ is used for ‘path’ here.)

Don and Katie Fortune wrote about the meaning behind this verse in their book, “Discovering Your God-Given Gifts”. They spoke of a child’s ‘bent’ and related the work of parenting to aiming an arrow to ‘hit its mark’.

Jon Tyson has a similar notion in his book “The Intentional Father: A Practical Guide to Raise Sons of Courage and Character.”

They speak of the keys to unlocking a child’s heart. This idea opens up a broader conversation that I address in my book -

“The Funnel: Framing Your Life in View of Eternity”.


As we discussed in our opening podcast, there is no question that God has a plan and a purpose for each life that He created to live upon His creation.

Ephesians 2:10: You are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.

Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope.

Romans 8:28: For we know that all things work together for good for those who love Him and have been called according to His purposes.

These purposes start with a gender assignment. It matters in the plan of God whether you were born male or female. It is not a situation that ‘we’ control with earthly planning. When we consider how to parent, we can start with their gender. Whatever God’s plans are for your child, it starts with their assigned gender at birth. That should be obvious. But parenting after that takes discernment.

When my youngest son, Samuel, was only three, I took him home to see my family in Pennsylvania. I remember pulling into the driveway of our rural home and turning the car off after a long drive. Samuel was never one to make a lot of noise and I noticed that he was sitting in his car seat next to me with his head facing the passenger door as if he were lost in thought. In a sing-songy voice I said, “Samuel?” In the same sing-songy voice with the same pitch and rhythmic patterns of my ‘tune’, he said, “What?” Tickled, I continued the game and ‘sang’ my next question to the same ditty. “What are you doing?” Without missing a musical beat, he sang back to me his response. “I’m sitting in my car seat”. My son had just created a parody at three years old. Amazing. Pitch-perfect. On cue. Spontaneous. In that moment, I knew he had an artistic (musical) bent. I KNEW it. It wasn’t just obvious. I knew it in my spirit. It was as if God had provided me a window into his soul. As a parent, there are moments like that when God speaks to you about the ‘keys’ to unlock a child’s heart. It isn’t the whole picture, but it’s important and God WANTS you to know as a parent. But, you need to be discerning. You need to be listening.

Fast forward to college, many years later. Samuel’s path to college was a little ‘unconventional’. But after two years of junior college and a half-musical career. Anything to offset the financial reality of being an artist. Skip ahead. My wife was convinced that being practical wasn’t going to do it. She had her own God moment when it became clear that attending college to learn film scoring and musical composition at a Christian college was exactly what he needed to do. It was about his passion and what made him tick. He loved (the rest of) his college experience. So far, he hasn’t found work in that field, but it’s okay.

In my book, “The Funnel”, I examine the meaning of life in view of eternity. I have found that people don’t understand forever. There is still this naïve notion that we will be sitting around the throne of God singing songs and playing instruments.

Well, that’s not true at all. Let me jump straight to the punch line:

We were created to rule and reign with Christ in the millennial kingdom and well beyond that as far as I can tell.

Dominion. Ruling. Reigning. Administration. Order. Hierachy.

I don’t have time to defend that here, but my book is available on Amazon and you can read all about it here.

This is the primary reason that life becomes about attaining to the character of Christ. Discipleship matters. Salvation is good and necessary, but it is NOT the end game.

In my book, I refer to a question raised by Dallas Willard in his work, “The Divine Conspiracy”. “What if the character you died with is the character you are going to go to heaven with?”

For some reason (ignorance) we think the physical transformation we will go through to get to heaven will include our character. Imagine? We’re all going to be on the same footing. The playing field in heaven will be even. Do you know what that implies? It means that nothing after salvation matters. Sanctification is useless. Why bother? We’re all going to be even-stephen in heaven, right? That negates the entire teaching of Jesus and the New Testament. The “Good News” is just a gospel of sin management as Dallas Willard calls it. You have to be blind and bend a LOT of Scripture to make that idea work.

No, we’re (well, not all of us) going to be rewarded for our progress. The motives of our hearts will be revealed at the Judgment Seat of Christ and our good works will be shown for what they are. Then, in that moment, you will pick up the gold, silver, and precious stones that lay at your feet and present them to your Lord. The desired response in this moment is “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in small things, therefore let me put you in charge of many things. Enter into your Master’s happiness prepared for you since the beginning of time.” WOW.

Dallas Willard says,

“The intention of God is that we should each become the kind of person whom he can set free in His universe, empowered to do what we want to do. Just as we direct and intend this, so far as possible, for our children and others we love, so God desires and intends it for his children. But, character, the inner directedness of the self, must develop to the point where that is possible.”

That is an astounding quote. If that is true, and I believe it is, it changes EVERYTHING regarding eternity. I believe that those who develop the character necessary to handle greater responsibility (clearly taught in scripture), will be released to do EVERYTHING they ever wanted to do…and here’s the kicker….wait for it….wait for it…….WERE MADE TO DO. Do you see?

That’s the thing. We think Ephesians 2:10 means the work God has prepared for us to do here on Earth. I don’t think so. I think it means work to do in ETERNITY. So the question of purpose has more to do with forever than even here. THIS world is just a training ground for disciples of Jesus to become more and more like HIM. That’s the key to unlocking the heart.

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

I know that verse has more to do with sanctification, but can you also see how thinking about this wrongly puts everything out of whack?

Training to “Reign”

Now, come back down here!!! Let’s return to “Train up a child in the way they should go…” The “training’ necessary is “reigning”. We should be training for reigning. Therefore: TREIGN UP. And besides putting a child on the path of life according to Psalm 16:11, I also think it means unlocking a child’s heart towards the very things they were created to do FOREVER. What is your son (and daughter) going to do FOREVER. Do you know? You should have a pretty good idea.

God will take care of Samuel’s needs. He’s Jehovah Jireh. But, I am convinced because of his heart strings, that he will be a musician in the house of the Lord forever. He will write and compose and create and orchestrate the most beautiful music in the most spectacular of venues. The most glorious voices will sing his works and the instrumentalists will be virtuoso.

Always remember, that in raising children, they are not yours to begin with. They have a father in heaven first. They are HIS.


So, this was a lot, right? Perhaps a short summary would help:

“Train up a child in the way he should go…”

  1. Train up: Parents are called to ‘train up a child in the way they should go.’ The end of that passage is ‘and when they are older they will not depart from it.’ This is not a promise from God. It is, however, great advice and one that we should strive to do with intentionality.

  2. In the way he should go: What is the way they should go? It is important we help our boys to:

    1. Love the Lord and obey his commandments so that “it will go well with them and they will live a long life in the land the Lord, their God, is giving them.” (This is the only commandment with a PROMISE.)

    2. find their ‘bent’ as you see God using them forever in the skills and character they have developed in this lifetime. God has a plan for their life that extends far beyond this world. While God is primarily concerned about their character, the competency and skills they invest in here will pay huge dividends in the forever to come.

4. The mission of Treign Up is to help you raise your young men to become competent men of character.

In the training up of boys, we believe we can be a parcel of the solution in raising godly men of Christian character according to our mission statement. The problem is big and complex and we don’t have all the answers. But we can contribute to portions of the problem. As part of our organization, we are committed to helping provide Experiences, Products, and Media Resources for people involved in this spiritual battle for the souls of boys. Here’s what is on our radar:


Ritual Ceremonies for Affirming Boys on their Journey to Manhood. These ceremonies include:

  • “Raising Up Ceremony”: Age 8. Mostly geared to the initiation of boys into the journey and an accompanying dedication from the father and company of men that will stand with him in the process.

  • “Ceremony of the Scroll”: Age 13. A commitment ceremony that signals the start of a boys preparation and intentional training toward becoming a part of the company of men.

  • “Manhood Ceremony”: Age 18. This marks the completion of a boy’s training and officially welcomes him into the company of men that have surrounded him on this journey.

Weekend events called “Tabernacles” bringing boys and the company of men together in remote and outdoor areas for training, competitions, fellowship, bonding, and will house be the place where ceremonies are performed.


A book based on the breadth of our podcasts and newsletters which detail the problem statements, identify root causes, and provide direction, guidance, and training materials helpful in accomplishing our mission. Subscription Services to Treign Up will include newsletters, podcasting, curriculum, and access to all materials, training events and media resources along with some new technology.


Besides Podcasting, we are hoping to add scripture memory tools and spiritual formation lessons for all ages in journey groups.

Next week, we will look deeper into the notion of the spiritual and character formation of boys.

By offering a philosophy of ‘training up’ boys given the information we discussed above, we hope to start identifying places in the process where Treign Up can be most helpful to you.

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