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Janie B. Cheaney: Advice for graduates


WORLD Radio - Janie B. Cheaney: Advice for graduates

Develop a relationship with Wisdom

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LINDSAY MAST, HOST: Today is Wednesday April 17th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Lindsay Mast.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Up next: wisdom for graduates. Summer’s almost here, and that means students will put down their pens, toss their caps, and head into the workforce and new challenges. WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney reminds them what it takes to be truly wise.

JANIE B. CHEANEY: I belong to a group of former homeschoolers who like to think of ourselves as pioneers—we all began in the 1980s when the movement was just getting off the ground. Apparently, though, there’s another P word to describe us. Last week, one of our daughters texted it from the homeschool conference she was attending: prehistoric.

I prefer pioneer, as in blazing a path for our children to follow. But those children have their own ideas. Every generation has their own path to blaze.

Proverbs 6:20-22 says this:

My son, keep your father’s commandment and follow your mother’s teaching.
Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck,
When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you,
And when you awake, they will talk with you.

I think this passage can be applied to more than parental advice on car maintenance or mortgages. It’s about Wisdom. Wisdom is personified in Proverbs as a woman who calls out in the street and sets a generous table—she’s not a block of marbled principle, but someone who walks and talks and watches. “And when you wake, they [or she] will talk with you.” Talk with, not at.

Graduation season is almost here again. If I were giving a commencement address, it might go something like this.

It’s your parents’ duty to introduce you to wisdom. It’s your duty to get to know her for yourself. This will be an ongoing conversation, for as you grow and change, you should become better and better acquainted with her. Wise parents know this. She has been good to them; naturally they desire that she be good to you. And for that to occur, your parents may assume that you will follow their example in most things–financial matters and entertainment choices and personal tastes. As much as possible.

But for wisdom to be truly wise, she must talk with you, and you with her. Inevitably, you will face challenges your parents didn’t. And their solutions to problems may not always work in your day. This can mean differences, or even disagreements, with your own family, friends, teachers, or anyone you consider wise. But remember that Wisdom is the application of truth in various circumstances. She will always reflect the truth of Scriptural revelation, which doesn’t change. But Wisdom’s outward appearance may change: her clothes, her terminology. It may be difficult to recognize her at times.

“Challenge authority” is a common commencement speech theme, and I wonder what you graduates understand when you hear it: Maybe…put everything you’ve just learned on the shelf while you reinvent your own wheel? Yet there’s a grain of truth in it. All the life lessons you’ve been taught must be tested and owned. Truth must be studied and experienced and tried and proved, each one of us for himself. Truth can stand up to critical thinking—that’s one way it proves itself true. But I would add: Don’t challenge wisdom. Talk with her. With the Holy Spirit’s help, she’ll challenge you.

I’m Janie B. Cheaney.

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