Wisdom is not a one-time skill or ability. We must continually go back to it in all of our decisions. Thus, we have to maintain sound judgment while exercising discretion to live a life of wisdom
Proverbs 3:21: “My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgement and discretion;”
Discretion is Key
Life does not often offer us simple black or white decisions. There are often costs and risks for any choice we make. Therefore, wisdom must be applied on a regular basis for us to gain all of its benefits. Traits like physical size and good looks stay with us almost all the time. Wisdom is not like that. We can easily set aside our wisdom at any time.
This ability to keep from applying our knowledge can come from a deliberate choice or through our circumstances. When we are emotional, tired, or impacted by substances, we will not use our understanding correctly. Strength is similar to this. When we get tired, our strength may falter. The difference is that wisdom does not work well when it is only partially applied. Thus, a wise person that is drunk can make tragically bad decisions, not merely ones that are less wise.
Wisdom is a Choice
Part of the growing up process is an education of the things that can impact our wisdom. We learn that emotional decisions tend to lack wisdom. Pain and discomfort also are detractors from wisdom. We even have biases that can cloud our understanding. Thus, we have to be aware of these factors and our current mindset.
A truly wise individual finds ways to keep their decision making free from these influences. It may mean that we do not make big decisions while under the effect of medications (as seen on many warning labels). On the other hand, we may have to choose to delay decisions until more is learned about a topic
Teaching Children this Wisdom
I have a good “Dad” example of how discretion and sound judgment can falter due to circumstances. Select an activity your kids do on a regular basis that requires some level of focus. Video games are perfect for this. Have them play their game and then start distracting them. Strike up a conversation or move around within their field of vision. When your child struggles with their game, you can point out how wisdom and experience require focus. The child does better in the game when they have fewer distractions. In a similar sense, decisions are better when they are made with fewer distractions.
Point out the kinds of distractions that often occur in a child’s life. They may be hurt, tired, biased by peer pressure or lack of experience. Like so many of these Proverbs, we see that we must be willing to slow down and utilize any wisdom that we have. Many things in life can offset our wisdom so those must be guarded against to be truly wise.