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To Parents of Graduates – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

Now that summer is almost over, there are anxious parents across the country, who are preparing their newly graduated sons and daughters to leave home and enter college this fall. The countdown is on to find sheets for extra-long twin dorm room beds, to figure out student loans, to set up new bank accounts—everything that parents hope will pave the way for their child to be successful at college.
 
For these parents, this moment came quicker than they realized. How did 18 years go by so fast? For many parents, part of the anxiety that they are feeling right now is whether their children are ready for this. How will their kids do out on their own? All good parents want to launch their kids from home in the best possible way and hope that their children avoid the mistakes they made when they were young. But Christian parents, in particular, are concerned with whether their kids will walk with God when they leave home, and they pray that their children won’t stray from the faith taught to them.
 
It’s never too late to encourage your children to trust and obey God. It is far better to start while they are young and have the benefit of years to develop character and faith than to impart wisdom from dad and mom at the end. A deadline, like a child leaving for college, though does bring urgency to the matter. It forces parents to face the reality of the question: are my children ready? Have I prepared them as best as I can?  
 
King Solomon arrived at such a moment with his son. His son wasn’t going off to college, but he must have been close to striking out on his own, and Solomon recognized the need to prepare him for life ahead. So, he wrote down wisdom he had learned from God through experience to share with his son. This book of wisdom that Solomon wrote down became the book of Proverbs. In the opening chapters, Solomon teaches his son that, in order to experience the fullest blessings of God, you must walk on the path of God’s wisdom. Those who walk on the path of God’s wisdom grow in their knowledge of God, receive the protection of the Lord, experience joy welling up in their soul, are covered over with peace, and are honored before men among many other blessings.
 
In contrast, those who veer off God’s path of wisdom and follow foolish pursuits bring about sorrow and pain to their life, bring shame to their loved ones, and they ultimately eat the rotten fruit of their own wickedness. At the end of chapter 4, Solomon exhorts his son to dedicate himself to stay on God’s path of wisdom and gives him practical ways to do so that we can learn from.
 
If you want to experience the fullest blessings that God gives in this life, then you must dedicate yourself to walk the path of God’s wisdom. There are few who walk this path. Temptations to stray from the path are many, but those who successfully remain on the path of God’s wisdom experience the best that God gives men. In this passage, Solomon reveals disciplines that we need in order to remain on God’s path of wisdom. The discipline we need is focused attention on God’s teaching. Keep yourself on God’s path of wisdom by focusing your attention on his teaching.
 
Solomon calls upon his son to dedicate his whole body to the wisdom that Solomon had learned from God. In verse 20, he writes, “My son, be attentive to my words.” That’s a call for his son to engage his mind on the teaching. Every teacher knows that the first difficulty in students learning is students paying attention. Without attention, there will be no learning. Without attention, no thought will be given to wisdom, no reflection on heeding God’s instruction.
 
If ever there were an age when people needed to be exhorted to pay attention, it’s ours. We are a distracted people. Our minds are strangely busy with much and busy with not much at all. At one time, inattentiveness mainly characterized youth. But now the disease of distraction has spread to young and old alike. Our attention is interrupted by notifications, alerts, unread messages, missed calls, and on and on. Marketers and tech companies now more than ever compete for your attention. And they’re winning. They have a term for it: the attention economy. Ads and apps are engineered to steal away your attention. Apps are designed to entice you to continually check them in the in- between moments of life. We think, “I’m just going to check Facebook. I’m just going to check Instagram. I’m just going to check my email. I’m just going to check the news. I’m just going to check my calendar.” At the slightest pause in life, we’re always checking and our attention is fragmented.
 
Just a few decades ago, the largest companies in the world sold goods. Today, many of the largest companies in the world sell your attention. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other companies sell your attention to advertisers. Your attention is the product they sell. Netflix practically invented binge watching to monopolize your attention. It’s CEO recently said that its biggest competition is sleep. That’s what Netflix sees as its threat to your attention. Apple doesn’t just sell phones, it sells a device that demands to always be within reach and beckons you like a slave with buzzes and pings to pick it up and check something. I don’t know who’s responsible for coming up with the temptation to fragment our attention, but Satan couldn’t have invented a better way to douse our affections for God.
 
Our minds are so habituated to fragmented attention that we’re too distracted to pray and too inattentive to think long on truths we read in the Bible. As a result, the flame of God’s word inside us flickers rather blazes. There can be no walking in wisdom or growing in godliness without our mind’s singular attention to God’s truth.

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