One of the key responsibilities you and I have as parents is to instill wisdom in our children. That can sound pretty lofty, especially when they are little and we just want them to behave and be safe. But there are truths about wisdom they can and must learn.
Early on, parents focus on getting kids to do as they’re told. Obedience is the name of the game. I remember when our kids were young thinking “I want them to just do what I asked them to do.” But eventually, for the long term, my main goal in parenting had to shift to “I want them to choose to do what is wise.” Wisdom is more important than blind obedience.
A few years ago, author Andy Stanley did a series of messages on “The Best Question Ever” which he described as asking “What’s the wise thing to do?” That’s a fine question indeed, one I want my kids to ask every day. Seeking wisdom will help them tackle many hurdles in life. Wisdom, put simply, is understanding God’s truths and applying them to your life.
I am convinced our families, our marriages, and our children need to understand and embrace wisdom now more than ever. We need to be discerning to figure out our way through a confusing world of mixed messages and morals.
So here are 10 truths about wisdom that we must convey to our kids:
1. Not every source of “wisdom” is wise. Lots of people, celebrities, and marketing brands claim to provide wisdom. We need to seek wisdom first and foremost from God, who promises to give to anyone who asks.
2. What’s wise to many is foolish to God, and we need to learn the difference. Evaluating the “wisdom” of others against God’s wisdom is critical.
3. We are not born with wisdom. We need to ask God for it, seek it, and pursue it. The ancient biblical book of Proverbs is filled with God-inspired wisdom and a great place to start to understand the world and ourselves.
4. Wisdom is more valuable than wealth. In other words, knowing what is the wise and right thing to do is better than knowing how to make a lot of money. In ancient Israel, King Solomon was offered anything he wanted by God, and he asked for wisdom and understanding instead of wealth. God gave him wisdom, and granted extra wealth to him for his wise request, too.
5. Obeying authority doesn’t mean you understand anything. Just because our kids do what we ask doesn’t mean they are equipped to choose to do what’s right. They need to understand the difference between obeying on the outside (behavior) and understanding wisdom on the inside (the mind).
Just because our kids do what we ask doesn’t mean they are equipped to choose to do what’s right.
6. Following your heart can be foolish, even fatal. We need to understand the difference between Magnetic North (the pull of our hearts from the culture) and True North (what is absolutely true). Blind obedience to your heart might be an unwise reaction to external direction without an internal compass.
7. Wisdom comes from understanding the “Why” behind the “What” in life. Doing what you’re asked to do from authority God puts in your life is important, but understanding wisdom is greater. Encourage kids to ask “why” and don’t be frustrated when they do…that can train them to avoid the question entirely.
8. Obedience means asking someone “What do you want me to do?” Wisdom means asking, “What should I do?” That’s an even better question, especially as they get older. Let’s encourage kids to figure out what’s best and not wait to be told by the loudest or most tempting voices around them.
9. Being smart doesn’t guarantee being wise. There’s a difference between intelligence and wisdom–don’t confuse the two. Intelligence is great, and learning facts is part of what leads to wisdom. But knowledge alone is neutral. We still need something to guide how we use knowledge and what we do with it.
10. Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it. In the movie Jurassic Park, Jeff Goldblum’s character says the scientists who resurrected dinosaurs from DNA were so caught up in whether they COULD do it that they apparently failed to wonder whether they SHOULD do it, and mayhem ensues.
When the hard times come, and we all know they will, don’t we want our kids to be grounded in something bigger than themselves? That something bigger is wisdom. And God is the source of all wisdom. Let’s give it to them!
Share your thoughts on wisdom and obedience in the comments section, and thanks for reading!