By Andrew Poe
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.
- Proverbs 1:7-9
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
- Proverbs 9:10
A Summer of...wisdom, knowledge, understanding.
I think we all could probably say that we would want our children to have more knowledge at the end of the schoolyear than what they had at the start of it. Growing in academic knowledge is essential for our children as they prepare themselves for life outside of school. Many of you have experienced the moment when your child has gone from stepping into a classroom for the first time and taking hold of a primer – to stepping across the stage for the last time and taking hold of a diploma. You realize time has flown by and you look back at the years hoping that your child did gain enough wisdom and knowledge and understanding for the next stage of their life journey.
However, the greatest wisdom and understanding we should hope our children attain are not found in textbooks but in God’s Book. Knowledge can easily puff us up, making us feel like we are secure. We think that as long as we have a good education, we will succeed. But “succeed” in what way? While academic knowledge is good – without the wisdom of God, it falls short of true success in life.
As we raise our children, what are we placing the most emphasis on? Is it getting good grades? Excelling in sports? Being the best in music, art, or technology? All of these are good and worthy of accomplishing; however, "even a good thing can become a bad thing if that good thing becomes the ruling thing" - Paul Tripp. Even as we hope our children use their gifts for God’s glory, if we only focus on the gift and not the wise Giver of gifts, we are missing the very heart of life and beauty of the Gospel.
Whether you have a little one or a graduate, being proactive in your child’s life is essential to seeing them grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus (II Peter 3:18). Parenting is not a sprint but a marathon. So, continue to persevere. Take steps in your own walk with Jesus – seeking him first in every aspect of your life – so that it will become more natural for you to live a life of grace, wisdom, and understanding before your children. Seek to strengthen your relationship with your spouse, even above your relationships with your children. Seek out simple, everyday, opportunities to point your children to Jesus.
Summer is here. It will be easy to fill up your time with camps, jobs, trips, and activities – all good and fun – but I hope you also take time to enjoy rest (true rest in Christ) and moments to pray as a family and seek to encourage your children’s faith as you drive or hike or sit by the pool. It is often in the little moments where you can instill wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.
And if your child is graduating or already out of the house – you still have opportunities to engage with them, love them, and pray with/for them. A parent’s job of speaking into a child’s life is never done! And don’t forget – there is always grace and the chance to start afresh. So, if you feel you haven’t taken advantage of some of those opportunities when your child was young, don’t allow that to stop you from moving forward in a Christ-centered, grace-filled way now. Take another step of faith in your relationship with your child.
First – Congratulations!!! You have made it to a huge milestone, finishing up one chapter of your life! Now you may be stepping out of the school you have been accustomed to for many years and either moving into another one (like college or grad school) or moving into the workforce. At this time, it is important to remember the lessons you have been taught – and not just the academic subjects, but the truth of the Gospel. Most likely, you will begin to question and doubt God, Christianity, and the grace found through Jesus. That is natural! My hope is that you would seriously wrestle with God through those questions. Find trusted people who will be willing to engage with you about those. This is an exciting (maybe slightly scary) time in your life! As you take the next step, remember all you have learned and how you have grown; and look ahead to what God has in store for you next!
To All Others:
If you are a young adult, single/single again, or a grandparent, remember you still have the opportunity to share your wisdom and understanding by speaking into the lives of others. You have a unique perspective to share with others, particularly young people. Remember that those who follow Jesus are part of the Body of Christ – and that means every member has a special gift, passion, and skill set that can be shared. Take time to think and pray about what God may be calling you to do to pass along His wisdom and grace with others.
It is summer! The schoolyear is over. But that does not mean we take a break from seeking Jesus and his wisdom. Remember: "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you" -James 1:5.
So I pray you take time to enjoy growing in your relationship with God and relationship with others this season. Take time to play and have fun...rest and relax...but also pray and pursue Christ. Even though this is the season for vacations, let’s not take a vacation from God!