Teenagers: Lacking a Hunger for Wisdom

No one likes to be corrected, but the wise person learns to appreciate correction that comes from a reliable source. 

Proverbs 13.18 tells us:

He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame,
       but whoever heeds correction is honored

This is a lesson all of us need to remind ourselves.

But according to Paul Tripp this lesson is perhaps especially appropriate for teenagers. According to Tripp, in his book, Age of Opportunity, teenagers have a “Lack of hunger for wisdom or correction.”

What Tripp is saying is: It is not only that teens generally are lacking wisdom, one of the common traits is that they don’t even look for it. They are not aware they are in need of it. 

That teens lack wisdom should easily be understood. Wisdom comes only from experience and correction. Teens have generally not lived long enough to have developed wisdom.  And sadly, even those teenagers who have experienced too much of the hard realities of this world still lack wisdom.  This is evident in that they are often the ones who are in the most trouble. Likely this is because, while teens who have had to grow up too fast have experience, they have usually not experienced necessary correction.  They have been left to their own instincts. They have not had wisdom imparted to help them assess their experiences and learn to discern right from wrong; wisdom from foolishness. 

Realizing that teenagers are in need of wisdom is a great place for parents and teachers and youth workers to begin. But, along with that knowledge, we must also remember that teenagers’ limited experience and perspective leaves them with a lack of felt need for wisdom. Put more susinctly, teens are not aware that they are in need of wisdom, so they don’t seek it, they don’t hunger for it.

So, what do I take from all this?

1. If we who work with teens want to make a positive impact we ought to remind ourselves of a few things:

  • the importance of wisdom,
  • the need for teens to develop wisdom
  • the understanding the usual teenage apathy, even antipathy, about developing wisdom   

2. Perhaps we will be diligent in our approach to:

  • Make a priority of cultivating wisdom
  • Whet the appetite for wisdom

3. Perhaps we will use the book of Proverbs as a guide and tool in our parenting and discipling. If we do, we can help the teenagers in our lives, and in our churches, develop a positive perspective to apply to their experiences.


This is the First in a series of six posts elaborating on the insights Paul Tripp offers in his book Age of Opportunity.  To read the others click: Teen Tendencies & Temptations.

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