If your children are to reach their full God given potential and grow up to be mature, productive Christians, they will need to learn to find, respect and obey wisdom. While all wisdom comes from God, one of the problems with being young is that it isn’t always easy to apply God’s wisdom to the situations that they encounter in their every day lives. They will need wise people to help them understand how to apply God’s commands and principles to the situations they are encountering that are perhaps slightly different than those the people in the Bible encountered.
Unfortunately, we live in an age where knowledge is easily confused with wisdom. Where those most respected are those who are tech savvy and not necessarily wise at all. Where those who are older and hopefully wiser are considered out of touch and not worth listening to at all… much less asking for and heeding any wise, godly advice they may have.
To counteract that dangerous cultural norm, you will have to teach your children how to recognize wisdom and to find the people who possess it and will share it with them. They need to learn how to compare it to scripture and then follow the advice if it is a match for God’s wisdom.
You can start by having a fun little devotional about wisdom. Call your kids together and ask them who is the smartest person on Earth. Their answers will vary depending upon their ages and interests. Ask them why they believe those people are the smartest on Earth. After they explain how they chose those people, ask them who they think are the wisest people on Earth. If you haven’t talked about knowledge and wisdom much before, they may be stumped or tell you that they just answered that question.
Tell them the story of Solomon asking for wisdom and then the story of the visit from the Queen of Sheba. (1Kings 3:3-15 and 2 Chronicles 9). Point out that although there is a connection between knowledge and wisdom, one can have knowledge and little if any wisdom. Explain that knowledge consists of all of the things you learn. Wisdom is knowing how to use that knowledge to make a decision that involves applying the knowledge in such a way that it has a positive result.
For example, learning the ABC’s is knowledge. Learning spelling and grammar is knowledge. Wisdom is taking all of that knowledge and writing something that helps others. If you want to take it a step farther, godly wisdom is applied knowledge that encourages others to obey God. Ask them if they can think of other examples of knowledge and wisdom that uses that knowledge.
Explain that sometimes the two get disconnected, even when they seem to still be the same. For example someone who has a lot of technical knowledge can design a computer game. While that is applying knowledge, if it isn’t helpful or in fact harms people, then it isn’t true godly wisdom. This concept is more abstract and children may struggle with understanding the difference. Teens, however, should be able to begin to understand the difference… especially after giving multiple examples in both types of situations.
Explain that true wisdom will never contradict scripture… even if everyone else claims those contradictory statements are wisdom. Show your children some popular affirmations that sound wise, but are contrary to God’s wisdom, like “You are perfect just the way you are”, or “You deserve everything you want in life”. See if they can find the flaw in each affirmation and explain how it is different from God’s wisdom.
Take it a step farther by inviting godly older people over to your home for dinner. Let them know ahead of time that you would love for them to share a few tidbits of godly wisdom with your children. Also encourage them to tell an interesting story from their lives. Children and teens often fail to realize that the old “boring” people at church often have had very exciting, interesting lives. Hearing some of their stories will help your children begin to realize that older people just may be different than they thought they were.
If your children are teens, you may want to have later devotionals using Proverbs and Ecclesiastes – examining the wisdom and the later folly of Solomon. No matter the age of your children, regularly talk about wisdom and humility. They will need both to live a mature, productive Christian life.