Posted by: howvoicebegan | 15/03/2011

Wisdom is Supreme

One of my many roles in the orphanage is helping the children with homework. In particular, I help the new-to-school children who have just started Grade R (Kindergarten for the American readers). Typically I find this age to be especially frustrating to help with homework, for there is no way to explain how to draw the letter “G” other than to let the child do it themselves over and over. This is why I prefer older kids who are working on math or science which I can explain the step-by-step process to them.

Nevertheless, somehow I have found favour in the eyes of the little ones. I hardly walk into the house at 3:00, study time, without them chiming in, “Help me with my homework!” Uncertain of how to help because I cannot write their work for them, I sit by, encouraging them, or drawing letters for them to trace.

But the challenge comes with one girl. I already know her to be stubborn. You know how they say that, at the age of 2, a child learns the word “no” and proudly uses it in every moment? I think for her it came at age 5, because that is exactly how she is. Oh, she never explicitly says “no,” but all her actions show it.
She will hide her pencil behind her back, saying, “I don’t have a pencil,” as though I will let her out of doing her homework.
She intentionally draws lines, scribbles, or other letters on her page to ask for an eraser. If I let her have it, she will continue doing this.
Or, after writing a letter 8 times, she will suddenly declare, “Leslie, I don’t can write it!” (I would correct her grammar, but for now it’s too stinkin’ cute.)
This is what I call being wise in your own eyes, which God warns us against in Proverbs 3:7. To her, it is better to play than do homework. But, she has much to learn about the value of learning.

What, this one? Not want to do homework? Couldnt be.

Today the problem was the ever-so-complex triangle. After drawing 2 triangles, she had decided she had enough of triangle drawing and resorted to scribbling and line drawing. Being that I am not her parent, I can’t threaten her with no toys or TV, and I don’t want to turn the homework itself into punishment by getting angry with her. I do not know why she didn’t want to draw the triangles, other than simply being a struggle of wills between her and me. Without making eye contact and simultaneously drawing on the bottom of her feet, she pretended to ignore my words desperately trying to coax her into homework.  Tears welled in her eyes and I felt they could in mine at any moment.

You see, what is flashing through my mind is a life pattern being set up, starting right here, of not seeking out education as a means of choice, freedom, and building character. The adult in me wants to talk to the future adult in the stubborn child, saying, “Fine. If you don’t want to do homework and don’t want to learn, make that choice. See how much you suffer because you refused to draw letters and now you are illiterate and unable to write because of it.”

Unfortunately, a child will never understand that far into the future, and therefore to try to explain a life of failure is impossible for them to grasp. All she knows is homework is boring; why do we subject her to such awful treatment?

It’s really a plea from me to heed instruction from someone who has been there– from someone who has gained the wisdom a long time ago. “He who walks with the wise grows wise” (Proverbs 13:20a). I am still plenty young enough to learn from those older than me, though looking back at my childhood, I feel fortunate that I had enough common sense to listen to the older, wiser people in my life– at least, most of the time. I never truly grasped why my dad emphasized education and college until I got out of college and into the real world and into the lives of people who rejected their opportunity for knowledge and education and the horrible snare so many have found themselves in as a result of it. Though not really understanding why I needed to memorize state capitols or photosynthesis or write a research paper on the mammal of my choice or the role of a-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase in the TCA cycle, I did it anyway because that’s what Dad said to do. Something compelled me to do it; a fear of the unknown of what would happen to me without my diploma and eventually my college degree.

Now I get it. And now I freak out when I see “my” children carelessly blowing through school. I often find myself thinking, “If only we could switch brains, just for an hour, so you can look back and say to yourself, ‘Wow, if I fail at school, I have significantly reduced my chances of pulling myself out of the poverty I see so many of my family members, friends, and neighbours entrenched in. I better shape up and take school seriously.'”

Though it may look like it, this isn’t about education and poverty. This is about heeding wisdom that you can gain simply by listening to those who have already walked the path before you. Thus enters the importance of elders who have that 20/20 hindsight we are always talking about that we wish we had. We can have  20/20 foresight— through others. Wisdom is supreme– so go get it (Proverbs 4:7).

Please! Let’s listen to those who have been there before us. Let’s heed their warnings and encouragements. Impart your wisdom on me. Don’t let me walk aimlessly through life and learning the hard way. Give me the Scripture, tell me your experience, make me understand and say, “Trust me, you don’t want to take this path.”



  1. Not that one! She is such a sweetie. It would be hard to not let her get away with anything.

    My thoughts are maybe it is something that needs to be looked at by a doctor. Maybe she has a learning disorder such as dyslexia or maybe she needs to have her eyes checked.

  2. Leslie,
    Thanks for always sharing what He is teaching you in the everyday practical things He places before you. The love and care you express as Jesus in the lives of these children may take years to produce fruit. I teach k- 2nd grade at BSF this year the book of Isaiah and asked the Lord for days as we started how in the world am I ever going to get the message through that I barely understand myself.. well I think you can guess what He replied.. You are not teaching them you are simply my vessel and it is my work to teach them and to cause the words to sink in to the glory of My name. Frustrating as it may be, I can encourage you by testifying that they do hear His voice and it is evident by the words they use while explaining what He has taught them that week. I hope that encourages you and I am so in awe at His faithfulness to you and to me. Blessing to you my young dear sister, you are and will remain in my prayers and heart.
    In Him with Love!


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