So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong…So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this …for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart…1 Kings 3:10-12

As a parent, I will be called upon to make a myriad of decisions. Should my child take certain classes? Should he or she do this afterschool activity or the other one? When do I push them toward an activity that they don’t want to do, but I think will be good for them? In the midst of difficult situations, when do I make them persevere and when do I allow them to quit? Do I love them at this moment by listening or correcting? Truly parents need the wisdom of God!

But as an imperfect parent, I will err. There will be times that I will not make the wisest choice. As a person in authority, I will unwittingly have made a poor choice. No big deal, right? We all make mistakes, right?

Except that this verse highlights an oft misunderstood principle by those in authority. In 1 Kings Solomon prayed for wisdom to administer justice. Why? Because when a leader is wise, his followers experience justice. But when a leader is unwise, those underneath him experience that lack of wisdom as injustice.

This principle not only applies to the leaders of countries but also to the leaders of families, the parents. When a parent is wise, his or her children experience a just and fair home. But when a parent lacks wisdom, his or her children will often experience this lack of wisdom as injustice. They feel our decisions as fundamentally unfair. Our innocent lack of wisdom can cause others pain.

So as we shepherd them through the myriad of decisions that come our way, let us cry out for the wisdom of God to lead our family. And let us sympathize with them when they feel the effects of our unwise choices. No, we will not parent them perfectly. Only the kingdom of Christ will bring in perfect wisdom and justice. But understanding this principle will help us treat them more gently, kindly, and compassionately.