I think very carefully before I make a decision
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105
I love that this character trait follows wisdom (from last week)! Why? Because prudence is defined as “wisdom applied to practice.” They belong together! When your children are little, prudence may not occupy your thoughts much. However, there will be a time when you wish you would have been more diligent in teaching how wisdom applies to practice! Trust me on this!
Last year around this time, I had 2 seniors seated at my dining room table for our weekly homeschool seminar day. One of them was my oldest daughter and the other was the daughter of a close friend. Both girls were excitedly counting down the days until they would walk across the stage to receive their diplomas! Only 4 ½ months and they would be onto the next stage of life! Maybe it was the mom in me (okay, it was totally 100 percent the mom in me) but in the back of mind I remember going over my mental checklists – had we adequately prepared her for life outside of our home? Had she absorbed the most important things – the things that matter eternally?
CALL TO ACTION
I’m convinced (especially with so many teenagers at home) that one of the most important things we can teach our children as they grow up is the virtue of prudence. It’s a beautiful process that is built on knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. If we want them to make wise choices…to be prudent…we have to walk alongside of them in the process.
Here’s a simple exercise that I’ve done with my seniors and while I don’t expect you to do this with your little ones, I hope that it will help you get an idea of how to cultivate prudence in the home.
• IDENTIFY an AREA of LIFE or ISSUE: I had the seniors come up with 3 areas of life in which prudence could be used to prevent bad decisions. They came up with the following: time-management, finances, and relationships. Let’s use relationships as an example.
• IDENTIFY KNOWLEDGE: They listed different types of relationships (faith, familial, marital, platonic, etc) and defined them. This is knowledge or the facts.
• IDENTIFY UNDERSTANDING: Once basic knowledge is determined, ask a series of questions to stimulate understanding. What does God say about the relationships of married people? What is encouraged? What is discouraged? What about relationships with friends? (This becomes an important topic as dating begins)
• IDENTIFY WISDOM: Once there is understanding, build the conversation on experience. Sometimes this means that parents have to be vulnerable enough to share both the good and the bad. Ask questions like: where in your life has something like this happened to you or someone you know? What was learned from that experience?
• PURSUE PRUDENCE: Now you can take the final step by asking questions like: How does wisdom apply to this issue? How can we make a decision that is God-honoring? Is that an easy decision or a hard one? Why?
Helping our children pursue prudence enables them to see issues through the lens of seeking/knowing the facts, understanding or interpreting those facts and then making use of life-experience to apply to decision making. When children are little we make the majority of decisions for them. It’s very easy, isn’t it!?? They go and do what we say (most of the time). But as parents we have to be future-focused when training up our children and that’s exactly what pursuing prudence allows us to be!
“Prudence is the virtue by which we discern what is proper to do under various circumstances in time and place.” John Milton