“He’s so smart,” the young mom often boasted. “One day he’ll be his own boss. He’s too smart to work for someone else.”
Her little boy got the message. I won’t have to work for someone else because others aren’t as smart as I am.
I’ll tell you how that situation turned out in a moment.
Parents face lots of pressure when it comes to their kids doing well in school. If a child isn’t excelling academically, Mom or Dad risks being branded as a failure.
The pressure begins in grade school with mountains of homework. By the time kids are in high school, they face high levels of stress and anxiety about getting into good colleges.
I’m all for academic achievement, but when educational goals take a toll on your child and on your family life, it’s time to re-assess.
Christian parents need to learn to swim upstream against culture in this area. Why?
Partly because succumbing to the pressure produces anxiety—but also because being smart and being wise are two different things.
“Smart” means you have a high level of mental ability. This is God-given and is not equal to your character.
However, what you do with your mental abilities demonstrates your level of wisdom.
A kid who is smart may be ahead in his or her reading level, or good at math problems, or great at science. A smart kid may have lots of knowledge.
A child who is wise, on the other hand, may or may not be a multiplication whiz, or a stellar reader, or a blossoming chemist–but a child who is wise knows how to apply the knowledge he or she has to real life situations.
The same applies to adults.
Before our sons went to college, we had immersed them in God’s Word and His principles. They understood that wisdom is about living God’s way, not so much how “smart” you are.
One of our sons described how he noticed the other students becoming enthralled with their professors and accepting their personal ideologies without critically thinking about them.
Sam would consider the way his professors described their lives and their choices in light of principles he understood from the Bible.
So when one instructor talked about his past drug experimentation, along with his atheist philosophy, Sam decided this man was not a role model worth following.
The professor was smart, but not wise.
As a parent, your responsibility is to raise a child who is wise, regardless of scholastic achievement.
It’s okay to help your child do well in school. It’s okay for your son or daughter to excel academically (as long as your family life remains in balance).
It’s even better for your children to grow in wisdom.
How? With lots of discussions around the family dinner table (where you bond and create sacred space). Look at the Bible together and learn what God has to say about wisdom versus foolishness.
Proverbs is an excellent book to go through with your children to compare these two concepts. And life itself will afford you countless opportunities to discuss the choices we make between the two.
“…for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.” –Proverbs 8:11
Be quick to praise your kids when they make wise choices. Put the spotlight on character and humility, not on mental ability.
That little boy who was told over and over he was too smart to work for others? He struggled for years with holding onto steady employment.
Your job as a parent isn’t to create geniuses.
It’s to raise wise people.
How can you impress the importance of wisdom in a practical way?