There are some bits of advice your children will hear over and over again throughout their lives that sound wise, but are actually pretty bad advice. Perhaps the two most common are “Follow your heart” and “Trust your gut”. At their core, the two are actually flip sides of the same principle – that bad choices will give you a bad feeling and good choices, a good one. In a perfect world, that might be true. In most cases, however, other things may prevent your kids’ hearts and guts from helping them make good choices in life.
Here are our top six reasons you need to teach your children about why they shouldn’t trust their hearts and guts.
- They lack Bible (and other) important knowledge. Our tendency to teach children and teens the same two dozen Bible stories over and over can lead them to think they know everything in the Bible. Add that to a youthful tendency to think they know more than those older and wiser than them and you have a dangerous combination. Teach your children that their hearts and guts don’t necessarily have all of the information they need to make a wise choice.
- They lack life experience. Some things are learned from either personal experience or watching others make similar choices over the years. Your children need to learn that they don’t have the life experience to automatically know what may happen based on the choice they are about to make.
- They need to use their hearts and guts as a warning flag, not a decision maker. If your children have a bad feeling about something, it is often wise to slow down a bit and gather more information and godly advice before making a choice. Sometimes it will be a natural fear about facing something new that is ultimately good for them and they can proceed. What they shouldn’t do is assume a good feeling, desire or whatever is a definite green light that something is a good choice.
- Experts are wrong more than they are right – and that’s using knowledge and experience – not hearts and guts. Making good choices is tough – even with knowledge and life experience. Your children’s natural youthful arrogance can make them feel like experts in the choice to be made. Remind them that even “real” experts get it wrong more than they get it right.
- Emotions are poor decision makers. Feelings are fickle and susceptible to being influenced by things like hunger, exhaustion, loneliness and other unhelpful factors. Remind them that their feelings about any choice can be changed if they are already in a good or a bad mood…. meaning the choices they make based on emotions might change from one day to the next. These potentially volatile choices are a sign that emotions aren’t the best decision makers.
- They should make decisions based on what God wants for their lives – even if it is different from what they want. Part of making God the Lord of their lives is admitting God is wiser and bowing to His Will. That means at times God’s commands, principles or plans for their lives might look different than what they may feel like they want for themselves. It can help to remind them that God knows what is best for them and if they are wise, they will always follow His lead – not their hearts or their guts.
Teaching your children to ignore popular “wisdom” can be tough. You will need to revisit the topic more than once over the years, for the truth about this principle to take root in their hearts and minds. It’s important though, if you want them to make wise, godly choices in life.