wise as serpents

I don’t know if you’ve seen the crazy story involving one of this year’s Heisman trophy hopefuls and his participation – either as victim or perpetrator – in an enormous hoax. It’s a disturbing story of a college student not too unlike those we serve.

For me, it brought to mind a question: Are we training our students in basic, practical wisdom? So often we focus on doing (like social justice or evangelism), and lots of other times we focus on pretty formal theology. Other times, we’re walking our students through understanding Bible passages, and oftentimes we’re providing practical discussion of a particular topic (like dating or God’s will).

But somewhere in there, how do we help them become wise? Not just pure, not just learned, not just active, not just impactful. They’re likely to face lots and lots of situations (in college and afterwards) when a specific topical series won’t cut it. Even our biblical and theological emphases may (whether we mean to or not) be absorbed by our students as knowledge more than as wisdom.

I realize that what’s involved in helping our students not get scammed (for instance) doesn’t seem all that “spiritual.” But surely there are overt biblical connections: not leaning on our own understanding, for instance, and seeking counsel. And in the Bible, wisdom itself seems to be an attribute that corresponds with spiritual maturity; as students grow, they should be becoming wiser and wiser.

So what does this “look like”? Surely not just avoiding internet scams. But would that be part of it? What is part of it? And are you helping students gain it?


  1. Seth A

    A few years back I honed in on wisdom/ insight/ understanding with my guys group by going through the book of Proverbs at the rate of one chapter per week. I gave them a long list of themes and had them pick two to trace through the book and then we reviewed their themes and passages occasionally through the year and they summed it up at the end of the year. There is still some fruit coming from that.
    Right now my men’s group wants to discuss maturity of various types, so we are. So refreshing to hear them ask for it. Finances seem to be a big part of that for them. There are also relationship things that have come up. I’m planning on bringing in some older men and married couples to share over the course of the semester.
    The other day in an extended conversation with a student I listened for awhile and I asked what it would be like if he took “power” out of the equation. He slowed down and listened to the situation and learned a lesson about power and not making assumptions.
    I’ve never heard a sermon about the value of networking, but there is wisdom in it.
    And when I’ve been with some graduate students it seems like they have different questions about wisdom, such as how to navigate the political culture within their department.
    What can be a challenge with communicating wisdom and helping students discern it is that it requires us as leaders to slow and listen and seek understanding.

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