The third component to helping a student make a healthy transition into life after high school is to teach them about wisdom. In my experience, teenagers are often confused about what wisdom is and what it is not.
Many have heard about Solomon’s wisdom and possibly a few other verses about having wisdom, but that may be the extent of knowledge and understanding on the subject.
The fact remains that wisdom is critical for making decisions and staying in pursuit of God’s will and purpose. Yet many young people are unaware of the power they unknowingly hold in wisdom.
When an individual leaves home and ventures out on his own, he will be faced with constant decisions to make. As we have already looked at identity and community, both of those essential transition components need wisdom for the student to know how to navigate through.
Teaching wisdom will help teenagers prepare for the level of choices that will soon come knocking. But how?
The first step in teaching wisdom is to define it. When I ask students to define wisdom, I usually get answers related to learning and gaining knowledge about something.
This confirms to me that they really do not know. Wisdom is not the same as learning information but rather determining right from wrong.
My best attempt at defining wisdom is to see life through God’s perspective. The important distinction regarding wisdom is to view wisdom as an extension of our relationship with God and our connection to the Holy Spirit that lives in us.
Wisdom begins first through fearing the Lord and keeping His commandments (Psalm 111:10 NKJV) and is more valuable than anything else on earth (Proverbs 16:16 NKJV).
We know from Scripture that wisdom comes to those who are able to humble themselves enough to receive it (Proverbs 11:2 NKJV) and brings a fullness of life to those who have it (Proverbs 19:8 NKJV).
We gain wisdom by asking for it (James 1:5 NKJV), and we show that wisdom by the way we treat and serve others (James 3:13 NKJV).
According to Jesus, the one who hears the Word and does what it says will be wise, like a man building a house on the firm rock as opposed to the sinking sand (Matthew 7:24 NLT).
Even though we throw the word “wisdom” around loosely in our society to define people who are smart, successful and savvy, the Bible is clear: It is the Lord Who gives wisdom. “From his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6 NKJV).
Once we have defined wisdom for students, we must help them learn to use wisdom. The first way to teach wisdom is to model it.
As youth ministry leaders, we must be making wise decisions and allowing our students to see that process take form.
Since it is impossible to gain wisdom without connecting to Christ, we can model wisdom as we model faith. The two are very much connected.
Secondly, we must teach our students how to be patient and wait on God. Wisdom takes faith, and faith often takes patience.
If we ask for wisdom and believe that God’s Word is true, that He will give it to those who ask, we must learn to be patient and wait on the Lord.
As Psalm 27:14 instructs: “Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage.” (NKJV)
I have seen teenagers pray sincerely for wisdom but then grow impatient and never receive it.
The Bible is clear: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)
Students need to learn that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8 NKJV), and His timing is different from ours (Psalm 90:4 NKJV).
Next, we can test them by giving students situations and asking them how to seek wisdom for that decision.
Then we can help them process that problem by applying the wisdom of God’s Word to the situation. This would be a great activity for high school seniors.
Through this exercise students will learn:
- Seeking wisdom is more than just having a positive feeling towards a decision.
- Praying for wisdom is a process of waiting and knowing how to see God answering the request.
- Asking for wisdom does not always mean that God will give you what you want but rather offers a confirming sense of direction from the Lord.
- Seeking wisdom takes humility, patience and a willingness to give a situation completely over to God.
- Wisdom is not something that one receives once and for all but rather something that needs to be asked for daily as the believer seeks maturity in faith.
- An answered prayer for wisdom will never lead someone to do something that conflicts with Scripture.
- God’s timing is never too late but our asking can be. This is why an individual should always continue to grow and develop in Christ so that they can stay in touch with where God is leading them.
- God’s Wisdom will often times be counter to that of cultural patterns of thought and what might seem logical to others.
- Developing wisdom is a clear pathway to establishing ownership in one’s faith, especially during the important transition after high school.