The Gift of Wisdom

I want to talk about being intentional about preparing our children to do well in life. Obtaining knowledge is important and helpful in life, however obtaining wisdom is far more important. In addition to knowledge and education, we need to impart wisdom to our children. Most of us want our children to grow to become wise adults, but we don’t think about how to help that happen. So, I thought it would be good to spend a little time exploring this concept.
The place to start is by considering what wisdom is all about. Education is about facts, theories, and developing certain skills through math, science, and language arts etc..These things can become the foundation for a career. Knowledge of these things can prepare one to become a doctor, engineer, architect, teacher, etc. However, a successful career alone does not define a person as a success in life. The news often reminds us of this. Take a minute to think about some people who were qualified and seemed to be on their way to great things, but were suddenly shot down because of unwise decisions … teachers having inappropriate interaction with students, a doctor imprisoned for illegally using his right to prescribe drugs, a successful professional who develops life wrecking substance dependency, or the celebrity who wrecks one marriage after another leaving a trail of broken hearts. It is great to educate our children to prepare them for opportunities in the future and it is great to help them develop their talents, but without wisdom, their life will be filled with pain and trouble.

God gave King Solomon the gift of great wisdom. In fact, kings would travel great distances to sit in His throne room and listen to his wisdom. The good news for us is that he wrote out his core thoughts of wisdom and left them for us to learn from. He wrote the Book Of Proverbs as a wisdom guide for his son who would take the throne after his death.
He begins by making a case for the benefits of wisdom. In chapter 1, we learn that choices have consequences and rewards. The time to apply wisdom to avoid the consequence and receive the reward is before the choice is made. We desperately need to teach this lesson to our children. In our culture today, we believe in removing consequences to avoid having our children’s feelings hurt, but that is setting them up for trouble. Life does not work that way. In chapter 2, he tells us that wisdom will save us from the ways of wicked men and women. Chapter 3 tells us that the ways of wisdom are pleasant and peaceful. Contrast that with the ways of those who do not have wisdom whose lives are filled with pain and never ending drama. Wisdom leads us safely through the rough parts of life and leads us to the blessings on the other side. Throughout all this, he tells us over and over that wisdom must be pursued. It does not come easily. Wisdom comes to those who search for it and honor it by incorporating it into our lives. So, let’s pursue wisdom and share wisdom with our children and grandchildren!
The truth is that one can be the most gifted doctor, the most innovative architect, or the sharpest businessman, but without wisdom his/her life will be filled with pain and emptiness. Wisdom leads us to a pleasant, meaningful life regardless of our social or financial status. I have known successful professionals who were totally miserable because of stupid life choices and wrong priorities. I have known people who were living paycheck to paycheck who had a life of peace and joy because of the presence of wisdom in their lives.
So, what lessons of wisdom should we impart to our children? A good place to start is with choosing our friends and associates well.Proverbs 24:1-2 says, “ Do not envy wicked men, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence and their lips talk about making trouble.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “ Do not be misled, bad company corrupts good character.”
The first lesson of wisdom is that people influence us. Denying that truth for whatever reason is a hallmark of foolishness. Old sayings become old sayings for a reason. The old saying, “ Birds of a feather flock together” is very true. This is a two edged truth. While those we spend time with influence us, we also influence them. Obviously, our children will be exposed to lots of people and we can’t control that. Many of them will be a good influence, many of them won’t.
Let’s try to unravel this a little. We all participate in various levels of relationships. Some people are in our inner circle and are our closest confidants. Others fill out various relationship rankings that include neighbor, church friends, work associates, and acquaintances. Our children have best friends, friends, teachers, neighbors, and people they recognize but don’t really know. You could illustrate this with a chart. In these groups are all sorts of people – some will have good values, some will have bad values, some will be inspiring and others will not. We have little control over that in our lives. Life simply brings people into our path. The key is to use wisdom in deciding where these people fit in our relationship chart. Wisdom says only allow people in your inner circle who inspire you upward to great things. Wisdom says to keep all the others in less intimate arenas and resolve to try to limit your involvement with them to simply trying to lift them up if possible. So,who is in your inner circle? How do they influence you? Who are your children’s best friends? Will it be good and helpful if your children become like their best friends? These are questions that we should always have on our minds. Don’t allow people with bad influence to shipwreck your child’s life! We need to carefully teach this principle to our children…especially as they approach their teen years. Let’s impart wisdom in forming relationships to our children.
I want to think about another hallmark of wisdom that is very important to impart to our children. Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self control.” We all know that a moment of poor decision-making can lead to a lifetime of trouble and heartache.In ancient times, the wall around the city represented safety and security. Solomon is comparing self control to a wall around a city. Self control protects us from rash, destructive decisions that open the door for foolishness to ruin our lives. Self control is like a wall that protects us from the assault of circumstances long enough for us to discover and make wise choices in the situation.
Today, we over-value the concept that we need to be free to express ourselves. Sometimes expressing ourselves can lead to a world of regret. In our pursuit of freedom to express ourselves, we jump headlong into foolish decisions that haunt us for a lifetime.
Self control is about boundaries. Boundaries define who we are by defining how we will conduct ourselves. The wise have boundaries that govern their lives well. Wise people set boundaries that will determine how they will handle the many circumstances that come unexpectedly into our lives. These protective boundaries provide safety and security throughout life if they are maintained and improved upon during adulthood. These boundaries need to be built by parents during childhood. Then, of course, in adolescence and adulthood the responsibility for the boundaries becomes a matter of personal responsibility.
As parents, what boundaries should we set in our children’s lives? Self control is a many faceted quality so let’s consider a few facets. First of all, the biggest challenge our children will face that has the ability to create the most damage is how they will handle anger. Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin.” Contrary to popular belief, our actions while angry can be controlled and we are indeed responsible for our actions while angry. So, it is not a sin to be angry, that is a normal, God given emotional response. The boundary is “do not sin when you are angry”. We need to carefully instill in our children that anger does not justify things like violence, murder, revenge, slander, hatred, or anything done to harm another in any way. The way the wise handle anger is careful communication designed to resolve the issues and restore relationship, to forgive, to be kind to those who hurt us.
A key to a life of wisdom is to determine what qualities we want to summarize our life and pursue them everyday.
Proverbs 21:23 “ He who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself from calamity.” Proverbs 10:19 “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”
James 3 has a lot to say about the importance of what we say. In fact, it says that the tongue can set a fire that can ruin our lives.
We have a natural tendency to say things that are hurtful and destructive to others. Part of the problem is that we greatly underestimate the power and impact of our words. Our words can either lift up and inspire others or they can hurt and wound others. We are responsible for the impact of our words. In fact, Jesus said in Matthew 12:36 that we would have to give an account for every careless word that we have spoken. What a scary thought! Not only should we pay closer attention to how we speak to others, but we should train our children to choose their words carefully.
Do you believe that your words have great power? I believe that is the starting point because if we believe that our words have power, then we will put more effort into thinking before we blurt things out. Let’s think about it a little. It was words that brought about the war that created the United States of America. Words on a document called the Declaration of Independence. Words in speeches stirred men and women to fight for freedom from a tyrannical king. On the other hand, it was with words that Adolph Hitler motivated Germany to commit the most heinous acts of the 20th century. It is often words that tear families apart. Careless words can crush a person’s dreams or encourage them to keep trying. Words can break or heal relationships. Words can make a person feel worthless or important. Words can help create unity or create division in any group of people… workplace, church, school, family, nation … ANY group. I think you get the point – our words are very important and the right words bring benefits and reckless words bring consequences.
All of us know what it feels like to open our mouths a blurt out hurtful words that we wish we hadn’t said. So, it is important for us to train our children to be careful with their words. We should have conversations with them about the value of good words and the consequences of hurtful words. It is important to help them understand that words matter. Probably the best guideline is the Golden Rule – Do unto others as you want them to do to you.
We need to teach our children to be intentional in speaking words of respect and encouragement to others. Even when in a conflict, it is important to choose to speak the truth in love. Proverbs 13:3 “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”
Before we go, I want to recommend I Still Do, A Guide for the Marriage Journey. This marriage devotional was written to help strengthen your marriage with Biblical principles and practical suggestions. Order yours today!
We gave some thought to the importance of teaching our children to be careful who they allow to influence them.
We talked about the importance of teaching our children to learn self control so their lives don’t become crippled by reckless actions.
We talked about the importance of teaching our children to realize that our words have great power … either to lift others up or to tear others down and we are responsible to choose our words carefully to lift others up.
Today, I want to encourage you to teach your children to have a strong work ethic. Proverbs has a lot to say about the importance of a strong work ethic. Proverbs 13:4 “ The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” In Proverbs, there is a contrast between those who are diligent and those who refuse to work. Those who refuse to work are criticized as lazy and irresponsible. They are foolish to think that they can expect to have a prosperous life without working. The diligent, on the other hand, understand that they are responsible to work to provide for themselves and find great joy and satisfaction in doing so.
We are plagued in our modern society with the idea that work is bad and we should not be responsible for our own provision, rather it should be someone else’s responsibility to take care of us. This is completely foolish thinking that leads to poverty, depression, and the destruction of dreams, however it is the mindset of millions in our nation today. I hope you will join me in safeguarding our children from this path of heartbreak.
A good place to start is by assigning chores around the house. Children need to understand that the whole family pitches in together to make the household work. It is a shame how many children are allowed to lay around while Mom does all the household chores. If we don’t teach our children how to cook, clean house, and wash laundry, how will they learn? Also, helping with the chores builds a sense of respect and teamwork in the family. Assigned chores help our children develop a willingness to work as opposed to a sense of entitlement believing that they deserve to be served by others. Chores also help our children develop responsibility and dependability. Chores help our children develop confidence. It is very important for children to grow into adults with a set of life skills that they can depend on to help them succeed in life.
A good work ethic is very important to do well in this life and it’s never too early to start helping our children develop a desire to be a helper and a worker! It will serve them well in life!
I hope these ideas have been helpful. Remember, Proverbs is filled with wisdom. I hope you will dive in and find many more treasures to impart to your children! Your entire family will enjoy the benefits!
Before we go, I want to recommend I Still Do, A Guide for the Marriage Journey. This marriage devotional was written to help strengthen your marriage with Biblical principles and practical suggestions. Order yours today!

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