Re-Thinking David and Goliath

Rethinking David and Goliath - Parenting Like Hannah

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Recently, I was privileged to hear Malcolm Gladwell speak about his new book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. (I admit, everyone in the audience got a free copy of the book after his speech, but it doesn’t change my opinion of the book!) Now, I have heard the story of David and Goliath so many times, I feel like I may know them personally. Mr. Gladwell shared some insight into the story though, I had never heard before.

After doing some extensive research into battle tactics and weaponry of the time and the potential health issues of Goliath, Mr. Gladwell came to an interesting conclusion. David wasn’t as much of an underdog as we portray him, but that does not lessen God’s role in the story or our dependence on God. Rather it demonstrates how God can equip us to slay our “giants” by giving us talents and opportunities that make these supposed giants not so giant after all.

The new information about the David and Goliath story peeked my interest in the rest of the book. What I found could be very helpful for parents to know, even though I don’t think Mr. Gladwell had that in mind as his motive for writing the book.

Most of the book is an effort to promote his idea of the negative u-shaped curve in life. His idea is that some things have a positive effect on our lives – to a point. After that point, having, using or doing more of the “thing” actually begins to have a negative effect and then a very negative effect. (Think about it as your positive personality qualities can also be your negative personality qualities when used in excess.)

One of the studies he cited was very interesting. Someone had studied the effect of the amount of money the family had and the ability of the child to learn how to handle money wisely, be industrious, etc.  The study found that up to a family income of $75,000, more money helped parents parent better. For example, parents in families making below $75,000 didn’t have a hard time teaching and explaining the idea of saving for luxuries, because they had to save for them. The extra money until that level served mainly to provide more necessities for their children.

In families above that income level, a huge problem arises. The parents have the money to give the children what they want. Saying they have to save for what the child wants doesn’t work as an answer, because the children know the parents can afford it without saving. Teaching the children about money, saving and hard work requires the parents to have a set of values, be able to articulate them well to their children AND be able to explain to the children WHY those values are important.

There are a lot more interesting insights into the surprising benefits of trials in the life of some children (particularly learning disabilities and the death of a parent), the value for some in being an underdog and why what is a crippling disadvantage for some can be the spur to greatness for others. Even if you never read the book (I think you will find it a very interesting, easy read though), the parenting principle is absolutely critical if you want to dedicate your children to God.

  • Know your values (biblical worldview – from the Bible – which is not necessarily the same as popular religious opinion).
  • Learn how to articulate them effectively to your children.
  • Show your children how God’s principles work in your life.
  • Explain to your children how God’s principles make a difference.

Once you read David and Goliath, I would love to hear what idea caught your imagination and made you think the most. Have you ever been an underdog? Were you able to persevere over the “giant”?What lessons did you learn from the experience? I would love for you to share your experience and thoughts in a comment below.

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Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19 NIV)