At a very young age, children learn that life is not fair, that the world is not perfect, that the effects of sin are ravaging. And often too late, parents realize these children will leave home to confront the world outfitted with the training given during those childhood years. What kind of training and equipping, then, do young people need? At what point can we, as parents, know our kids are prepared to face and defeat the foes that await them?
To even begin to answer such a difficult question, we must turn to the God of all knowledge for counsel. The book of Proverbs is full of counsel for parents on how to train children. In the first section of Proverbs, a father gives instructions to his son, saying “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7) So we want them to be wise and understanding, but where does wisdom come from? How is understanding obtained? The father in Proverbs answers that it is given from the Lord (Proverbs 2:6). The father specifies further that a humble fear of the Lord must proceed wisdom, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” The result of this type of educational training is “wealth and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4). What more could we want for our children?
At Agape Christi Academy, we believe that not only should the content of education be grounded in Scripture, but also the method for teaching the content. A wonderful aspect of classical methodology is how the trivium stages of grammar, logic, and rhetoric align closely with the scriptural language of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Knowledge, like grammar, is the basic acquisition of facts. Understanding, like logic, is being able to distinguish those facts against the moral standard of God’s Word. Finally, the application of knowledge and understanding is wisdom, which corresponds to the emphasis on presentation in the rhetoric stage. Thus, God’s Word is the basis for “how” we teach as well as “what.”
It should be made clear that this type of educational training is actually a process that spans a lifetime. While Agape Christi Academy does expect young men and women to come to wisdom, Christians of all ages are to grow in wisdom (Psalm 90:12). In a culture that does not fear God, this requires continual upstream diligence. There is no such thing as a “get-wise-quick” training seminar. Parents should be wary then of Christian youth conferences and church camps that promise to fully train and equip their students in a weekend, especially if these same students are spending the rest of the week in an educational system that does not fear God, daily being taught to despise wisdom.
So, how do we know when young people growing in wisdom are prepared to engage the culture? We should evaluate by the word of God. Are the students discerning, able to distinguish the Christian worldview from the antithesis in every area? Do they exercise wisdom that is “pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy”? (James 3:17) Do they walk in humility, recognizing that all knowledge, understanding, and wisdom come from God?
As parents, it is our duty to train our children in the way they should go. This is no small task, full of difficult moments, hard questions, and daunting situations. Yet it is also a high calling, glorifying the Lord through our efforts and encouraging and equipping the next generation to do likewise. For where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. And by the grace of God there is victory.