Today: Proverbs 4

Do you want to know the secrets to being a great parent? This chapter has them! 

Solomon begins the chapter by talking to his own son about his father David, the man after God’s own heart:

My children, listen to me. Listen to your father’s instruction. Pay attention and grow wise, for I am giving you good guidance. Don’t turn away from my teaching. For I, too, was once my father’s son, tenderly loved by my mother as an only child (Proverbs 4:1-3, NLT).

I wish I had a father who did this, but unfortunately my dad did not have this in him. Neither did his dad for him. But this is the kind of dad I desire to be for my kids, and I hope they can someday look back and say these words to their children about their relationship with me and their mom. Here’s the first secret: Desire to be a great parent, regardless of your past.

Solomon continues,

My father told me, “Take my words to heart. Follow my instructions and you will live. Learn to be wise, and develop good judgment. Don’t forget or turn away from my words (Proverbs 4:4-5, NLT).

What did Solomon want for his children? What do all great parents want? We want them to learn to make their own wise decisions in life. Those decisions include the friends they chose and what they do with them, what books and movies they choose to let their eyes look at, who they date, and lots more! But the most vital of all the wise decisions we want them to make is to follow God. They must make that decision, but what they see in mom and dad will impact that decision greatly. The second secret: Desire something good for your children.
 
Solomon talks a lot to his children here about doing what he says, but the more important thing is for them to see what we as parents do and who we are–what decisions we make in life, what is first in our lives, how we prioritize our lives. You can only do those things well if you are growing in your own relationship with God, putting him first, trusting and obeying him more each day. Secret #3: Be the person you want your children to become. By the way, that does not mean perfection! Have grace on yourself as well as others.
 
Our children will learn most from our attitudes and actions, but those are dictated by the condition of our hearts! That’s why Solomon warns his children, as well as you and me to, “above all else [this is most important!] guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” The NASB translates this last part as “for from it flow the springs of life.”
 
Your heart is important. What you allow to flow into your heart will eventually flow out of it and into the lives of your children and others closest to you. What are you allowing to flow into your heart today? Think about movies, books, web sites, TV shows, and friends you choose. I spend time with God every morning because I want to grow in my relationship with him. But I also want his life to flow into me (John 10:10) so that it may naturally overflow into the lives of people around me. I hope it does. Secret #4: Allow God to flow into you so you can overflow!
 
Your heart is critical because it is the wellspring of your life–from it flows springs of life. So be sure you guard it like a city would guard its water supply against the enemy. Because the Enemy does want to pollute it! Secret #5: Guard your heart against the enemy’s pollutants!
 
Solomon, like any great parent, wanted his kids to stay on the right path of life:

Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil (Proverbs 4:25-27, NLT).

I’m sure King Solomon knew that he could only do what he could do as a parent and that perhaps, like in the story of the prodigal son, his children might choose the wrong way; they may wander off the path God has set for them. In that case, I believe that Solomon was wise enough to let them go, pray like crazy, and wait for their repentant return. It is so hard for a parent to see his child’s back as he or she walks away, but there aren’t many better feelings than seeing them running back with their arms open wide! Secret #6: Entrust God with your children and have his grace with them.

 
It’s so easy for any of us–kids and adults alike–to get sidetracked in life and get off God’s good path for us. It’s easy to take a shortcut that looks really good at first, but leads to a dead end and ultimate destruction of our lives. God encourages us to stick to the path he has laid out for us. It’s a good path that leads to light, not darkness (see vv. 18-19, John 3:19-21; 1 John 1:5-10). Secret #7: Stay on God’s path for you, and if you’ve wondered off of it, come back to his ways.
This last secret is one of the major themes of the book of Proverbs–and of the entire Bible! God’s ways–his path– are best for us. Trust him with all your heart as you walk faithfully with him, and he will make your path–and the paths of your children–straight.

What do you think of these 7 Secrets from Proverbs 4? Did I miss any? Would you add anything?

How are you doing on these 7? Which do you do best? Which do you need to work on today?

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Michael Mack has led Small Group Leadership full-time since 2012, but has been involved in small group ministry for more than 25 years. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. Their family small group, which includes their four young adult children, has much potential (and much anticipation) for future growth and multiplication. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of great friends who participate together in various charity rides. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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