Seven Key Influences in the Life of a Child – Wisdom

Probably my dominant prayer request of the Lord is that He would grant me wisdom.  I need it in my family as a husband and father.   I need it in my calling as I prepare messages and counsel people, some with very complex problems.   I need it to make sound decisions that will stand the test of time and not reap painful consequences.

The primary source of wisdom is from God (James 1:5) and it is given in answer to prayer.    God also uses people to speak into our lives that have insight.   When I find these people they become very precious to me.

Some of them I know personally and am able to converse with and ask questions.   Many of them are authors that I will never meet.    Occasionally I have been so bold as to write and ask for a meeting with someone I don’t know, but has godly wisdom and they have graciously given me some time.

Someone said, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime”.   I want to not only know what wise people know, but how they learned those things so I can replicate their actions.

I can’t think of a more needed quality that a parent needs than wisdom.   Even after our children are out of the home they sometimes come to us for advice and we still need wisdom to help them.    Besides our positive example, it is the most helpful commodity we can offer them. 

Please understand when I say this, because I am not opposed to education – I think we ought to be lifetime learners, even after the formal days of education.   However, having a college (or post-graduate) degree is not a guarantee that a person has wisdom.  

You may have command of a lot of facts, details, and information, but wisdom is much more than that.   Wisdom is knowing how to apply knowledge and what is most important to communicate.  

Jake and myself at our baseball awards party.

Jake and myself at our baseball awards party.

My dear father graduated from high school and received an athletic scholarship to play football in college.   He went for several weeks and came home.    He loved football, but he didn’t enjoy the classes.    (By the way, I don’t believe college is for every person.   We need discernment and wisdom to help direct our kids in this important decision).

Though Dad never had a college diploma hanging on the wall behind his desk he had something else in his heart – wisdom, common sense, and practical insight.    My Mom started college and wasn’t able to finish because she was working to help provide in the home.    Though she doesn’t have a recognized degree in the eyes of the world, she has a heap of wisdom.

Our world is changing so fast today that knowledge gained a decade ago is quickly out of date and inadequate.    Wisdom keeps us from making unnecessary mistakes that bring regret and wastes time.   It is a most valuable and greatly to be desired quality.   And it’s a rare quality.    So rare, that those that have it often pass those with greater credentials in the long run.

A foundational need of every leader is that he have wisdom.   The same is true of parents.   The Bible tells parents to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”.    (Proverbs 22:6)

This training we are to provide is based upon a simple, but profound presupposition: that the parent knows “the way (the child) should go”.   This is specific, not general training.   We need wisdom to know what direction to train them toward and how to prepare them for life.

I learned this as a coach and it’s true whether it’s in Little League, at the collegiate level, or in the professional ranks.   Different things motivate different people.    If you have a “one-size-fits-all” mentality you will not only not have a good team, but you will not have influence on your children.    It is wisdom that gives us the clues on how to motivate and influence our kids.

Notice that the Bible says to “Train up a child“.    It doesn’t say “Train up your children”.    Each child is uniquely different.   This is the issue that makes parenting so much fun and so very difficult at the same time.

“You cannot put the same shoe on every foot”, wrote Publius Syrus.   To try to do so is folly, not wisdom.   It takes a lot of work to be an influential parent.   We need God’s wisdom.

There are several good definitions for wisdom, but it is impossible to define it without alluding to God.    He is the author and designer of life and knows how things work, whether it is marriage, parenting, leading, or many other areas in which the Bible addresses.

So, my favorite description of wisdom is simply “seeing life from God’s perspective”.  We miss wisdom when we ignore the Architect of life.   There is a catch though.   Many times God’s wisdom goes cross grain to what other people will tell you to do.    Most of the time my natural inclinations are the opposite of God’s ways. 

Here’s a passage that teaches this most succinctly – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”    (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Here are some examples of God’s wisdom that don’t make sense on the surface: the way to get is to give, the way up is the way down, the way to enjoy life is to die to your own selfishness, the way to be promoted is to serve.

There are lots of other principles that are the ways of God, but contradict our initial thinking.   I am old enough to vouch for them, though.   Once, I obeyed them by faith, but now I obey them because I know they are true by experience.  

We influence our children through our wisdom.   Ask God for it and seek His ways and follow them and you will be wise.


Jon, Jordan, and Jake playing some games at Turner Field before a Braves game.

My brother, Hoss, loves to tell the story about the simple wisdom of our father.   Just after graduating from college Hoss pulled onto Dad’s bus lot with a brand new truck he wanted to buy and thought he needed input on it from Dad.

Dad come out of his office and walked around and around the truck and listened as Hoss gave his fevered pitch on why it was a good deal and how he needed a new truck.    Dad just listened and when Hoss finished his spiel, he finally spoke and got to the heart of the issue in a single question.

He said, “Son, do you need it or do you just want it?”.    Hoss told me he knew the answer to the question, but he didn’t want to answer it.   As he drove off of Dad’s lot he knew that he didn’t need it, but he wanted it.    Dad had cut through all of the fat and gotten to the marrow of the issue.   Ouch!

Hoss went ahead and bought the truck and in his words, “Dad was right, but in another way besides the financial outlay for it.   I had more trouble with that new truck than any car I ever had.   I finally got rid of it”. 

C.W. Ceram said, “Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple”.   Perhaps that is true sometimes, but typically those with great intellects make that which is simple complex.   I think wisdom reduces the complex to that which is simple – and the best place to learn that is in the Bible.

All of us need wise counselors and all of us need to learn to be wise counselors, especially if we are parents.

About familyencouragement

Pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama. Married for 41 years with seven children and nine grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Family Issues, Influence, Leadership, wisdom and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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