From our earliest days as parents, my husband and I set our gaze on a specific purpose: raising our four girls to know and live in God’s wisdom. We know the best way to do that is by teaching them to follow Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
So how do we raise daughters to fear the Lord, to live in light of His presence in their lives and thrive in God’s wisdom in the midst of a culture that doesn’t pursue Him?
Practice patient leadership
If you were to ask me what our home is like, on most days I’d be forced to admit that chaos reigns — high-pitched and loud voices, disagreements and arguments, cartwheels, spills and no less than one breakdown per day.
Raising daughters to know God requires our leadership, patience and persistence. Girls can be temperamental and moody. Hormones, especially in adolescents, can make us wonder how we’ll ever get through to them. But that doesn’t mean we give up.
The fact is that our children aren’t born fully knowing God’s truth, and when they are unguided, they tend toward foolishness — the opposite of wisdom. Instead of letting them make all their own decisions, our homes must be viewed as schools of love and discipline, a place for them to learn what God’s wisdom looks and acts like — allowing them to practice truth and love, intellectually and experientially. A home filled with chaos isn’t going to go away anytime soon. But loving and patient leadership can win the day.
Shape their minds
As a family, we use the Bible as the standard for living and as our primary tool for raising our four daughters. Our goal is to shape their minds with God’s truth. We seize every opportunity — over meals, on car rides and anywhere else we can — to build in the discipline of Scripture memorization and to prioritize practicing God’s wisdom in our lives. And we’ve seen results.
One Sunday morning I awoke with a migraine. My husband gathered our girls, then all under 10 years old, and reminded them of a Scripture we’d recently memorized: “Is anyone among you sick? . . . The prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (James 5:14-15). Together they prayed fervently over me.
Within minutes, my migraine was gone, even though typically they lasted an entire day. It was a miracle my girls were able to experience and a reminder to talk to God regularly. That experience taught them that wisdom always begins with God and answered prayer shows that He longs to hear from them and surprise them.
Knowing and experiencing the truth of Scripture cause our daughters to pause when they see, hear or smell false narratives. They quickly question things they hear from friends, the media and other sources that don’t line up with truth. We’ve made it our goal for their minds to have God’s truth as a starting point and a compass, since a mind shaped by God’s truth is a mind of understanding and wisdom.
Soften their hearts
Engaged minds that are processing God’s Word is critical to growth, but real transformation happens in people’s hearts. Where heads can be engaged with information, hearts can be transformed through relationship.
One day I was lying on my bed feeling sorry for myself for no reason. One of my daughters knocked on my door. Assuming she wanted something, I responded to her with an attitude. To my surprise she said, “I just want to be with you.”
The time we spend with our children is invaluable to teach them to live in God’s wisdom. I’ve heard it said that you can model what you know but you reproduce who you are. When my daughters see me react with anger, attitude or envy, I see them do the same. Conversely, when my daughters see me respond with grace, patience or gentleness, I see grace, patience and gentleness back from them.
Our example matters, and the wisdom we display in our everyday lives will be reproduced to the degree that our children see it close up and authentic. Our lives of wisdom lead to wisdom.
Seek opportunities for them to practice
Look for opportunities to teach about God’s wisdom through interaction with the outside world. One of our most memorable times as a family was serving at an after-school program in one of our city’s underserved areas. Our girls were 7 years and younger when we started.
We knew there wasn’t going to be much “service” happening, but we pressed in knowing the experience would lend itself to growth and wisdom. At first we spent most of our time hovering over our kids. But soon we saw our girls become friends with the children we served. With even more time we saw them help the younger children with homework and projects. For the five years we served, our daughters experienced how God wants us to put our knowledge and understanding of Him into action.
When we allow our girls to practice what we preach, they learn that wisdom is knowing and living as if their lives are not just about them, but about the impact God wants to have on and through them.