This past week, a friend of mine posted this question on Facebook:
“What is the most important life lesson you can teach your children? Go!”
The first word, and I believe one of the most important words related to teaching children, jumped into my mind.
I typed the word, “Wisdom,” in answer to her Facebook inquiry.
Wisdom is not a once-off life lesson, however. It’s a term of growth, maturation, and transformation.
To be wise, as the Hebrew transliterated word, chakam, implies is “to be made wise or to become wiser.”
Our children are not, nor are we for that matter, birthed with wisdom.
Wisdom must be cultivated.
Friends, I don’t believe in coincidences. I seek God’s word and expect Him to answer – maybe not that same day – but I truly live in expectancy that my God will speak to me through His wondrous word. And when He gives me some specific truth or exhortative word, I jump on it!
Today, that happened!
I opened my bible in anticipation of reading Romans 12. (As many of you know, I’ve been reading Romans 12 daily this year.) However, I confess, I haven’t reached this chapter yet today. A word on wisdom stopped me in my tracks and caused me pause.
This is the word the Lord gave me this day:
The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resides in the lap of fools.
Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
For it is not wise to ask such questions.
Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing
and benefits those who see the sun.
Wisdom is a shelter
as money is a shelter,
but the advantage of knowledge is this:
Wisdom preserves those who have it. New International Version, Ecclesiastes 7: 8-12
In light of present day events, and the Facebook question from my friend, there is great insight to be gleaned from these age-old words of Solomon. Friends, please take what you like! The Lord’s Word is living, active, and true and is meant to instruct you as much as it is meant to instruct me!
What I want to focus on most from this passage, however, is that wisdom is a shelter that preserves those who seek it. This is why I desire my children to have wisdom. Some might ask me why I do not choose ‘love’ or some other value. Actually, we do choose love. Love is the underpinning and foundation of who we are and what we do. We have four family values and the first two center upon love:
Love your Neighbor
However, these values grew from a series of teachings from John’s and my spiritual mentors nearly a decade ago. They challenged us to select family values and live them out. Their knowledgeable exhortation and our embrace of their counsel were birthed from wisdom.
Because of that, I can testify that wisdom has sheltered us and preserved our lives.
There have been painful and difficult life lessons for our family – don’t get me wrong. Just because we are choosing to be made wise, does not mean that our family does not make mistakes or enter into situations that have wounded us. We have. And honestly, we will.
The crux of the matter is that life happens – and consistently happens – without our control.
We do the best we can to respond in various life situations with wisdom.
As Solomon said, “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”
John and I do not want our children to be too quickly provoked in their spirits, that they act rashly or impulsively and in so doing make a foolish mistake. Wisdom, according to Solomon, is an inheritance. If that is true, then it is up to John and me to instill the value of wisdom in our children – gifting them with the empowerment to analyze choices, make decisions, and learn from them.
To delve a bit deeper in this wisdom topic, I am reading Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, Necessary Endings. He actually classifies people in three ways on how to make necessary endings in life. According to Dr. Cloud, there are wise people, foolish people, and evil people. Briefly, wise people are open to others and receptive to learning from life. Foolish people are close-minded, unaware of their actions and their effect on others, and not willing to listen– believing they have all the answers. Last of all, evil people are those who seek to cause others harm in an intentional way (Cloud 2011). The reason I bring this up is that John and I desire our boys to be open-hearted and open-eared to the instruction of others. We encourage them to be responsive to the life lessons that they experience. We understand that they will make mistakes and that they will fail. We will love them through those times. We desire our children to be wise and not foolish.
Honestly, from my observations, many are influenced by this headline or that headline or this Facebook post claim or that Facebook claim and thus act like headless chickens with no compass point. They are sensitive to hyperbole and innuendo and fail to research the facts. They are vulnerable to making foolish and unwise decisions based upon emotion and sentiment.
I like how Solomon ties wisdom to patience.
I believe the two traits are interwoven and indivisible.
To be wise is to be patient.
To be patient is to be wise.
Both traits are forged through the channels of life experience, counsel from others, personal decision-making and for people of faith like our family, through the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
So, as I began this post, “What is the most important life lesson you can teach your children? Go!”
The Lord acknowledged my response to my friend this morning – Go, with wisdom. It is serves as shelter to our children. Wisdom will preserve them. Wisdom offers perspective. There is no greater inheritance for our children than to be wise and discerning people in this world.
Yes, we will go with wisdom and grow with it. How about you – would wisdom be one of your central life teachings to your children?
Cloud, Henry. Necessary Endings. New York: Harper Business. 2011.
Photo retrieved from: Mud Preacher