I love my children dearly, and I see so much potential in them, but sometimes they make REALLY bad choices.
They'll say things with no filter, they'll do things with no thought to consequences and they'll impulsively choose things that are harmful to themselves and others. Several of these bad choices have resulted in injury, which is why all of my boys (except for our infant) have made at least one trip to the Emergency Room. There's never a dull moment around our house!
When I watch my kids making poor choices (as all kids do), I'm reminded of the single most important lesson I should be teaching. Of all the lessons and principles I can ever teach my children, the MOST IMPORTANT skill I can teach my kids is the ability to make wise choices. EVERYTHING hinges on the choices we make. I'm always telling my kids, "Wise choices will create future OPPORTUNITIES for you, but foolish choices will create future OBSTACLES for you, so choose wisely!"
7 Timeless Principles for Wise Decision-Making
The secret to teaching kids the process of good decision-making doesn't have to be a "secret." In fact, the Book of Proverbs in the Bible gives some very clear and incredibly practical insight on how to make wise choices. If you'll teach these seven timeless principles below to your kids, and live them out in your own life as well, your whole family can form the habit of making wise choices and living with the blessings wise choices always bring.
(In no particular order):
1. Never trade temporary pleasure for permanent regret
Some things might feel good in the moment, but those impulsive decisions can bring lasting, negative consequences. Even though God's grace covers even our worst sin, we're still left to deal with the natural consequences (positive or negative) of the choices we make. Make every decision based not on how it will feel in the moment, but on how you'll feel about that decision in the future when you look back on it.
"Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored." Proverbs 13:18
2. Recognize that EVERY choice will create either future opportunities OR future obstacles.
Your future is shaped by your choices. There will definitely be circumstances out of your control, but you ALWAYS are in control of how you respond. Respond with wisdom and integrity, and even when life knocks you down, you won't stay down for long! A fool always see himself as a "victim," but a wise person rises above even the worst of circumstances.
"A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother." Proverbs 10:1
3. Seek wise counsel from people who care about you
When you need to make a wise choice, don't feel like you always need to make it alone. Seek wisdom and insight from a hand-selected group of advisors (but not just from anybody). Make sure your advisors truly care about you and they've made wise choices in their own lives.
"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." Proverbs 15:22
4. Learn from past mistakes (or else you'll repeat them)
The only benefit of a foolish choice is that it can become a lesson to prevent another foolish choice in the future. Learn from your mistakes and also learn from the mistakes of others! There's never a good excuse for making the same poor choice twice.
"As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness." Proverbs 26:11
5. Pray and seek wisdom from God's word for your decisions
God sent us a thousand-page personal text message (The Bible), and when we read it and apply it to our lives, wisdom begins to take root. Seek God's plan as a first step; not as a last resort.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don't depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take." Proverbs 3:5-6
6. Be patient. The right timing is as important as the right choice
Our world is so impatient, but patience is a form of discipline that gives birth to wisdom.
"Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city." Proverbs 16:32
7. Make the wise choice EVEN when it costs you something
You can't put a price tag on your integrity. Sometimes, the high road might cost you financially or in other ways, but in the end, the path of wisdom and character will always prove well worth the sacrifice. When you get to the end of life looking back, you'll never regret the times you made tough choices that stayed true to your faith, your character and your honor.
This article was originally published on Patheos. It has been republished here with permission.