Leaning on your own understanding is to place your weight on something that may look sturdy but isn’t strong enough to support you in the end.
(Designed for a father to read with his 12-year-old son.)
A boy trusts in himself; a real man trusts in God
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6
As you head toward adult manhood, one of the most important questions you have to answer is this one: “Whom am I depending on to get me where I want to go?”
You have dreams and desires even right now about what you want your adult life to be. Those dreams include what kind of man you want to become, dreams about getting married and building a family, dreams about building a fulfilling career.
In pursuing those dreams, you will have to depend on someone or something to help you. Ultimately, you have only two choices: to depend upon God and his wisdom or depend upon yourself and your own wisdom.
The counsel of Scripture is this: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart” and in “all your ways.” This means to count on him completely, for everything and in everything. For strength, for direction, for guidance, for assistance, for wisdom and for the counsel to make good decisions.
If you trust in the Lord with all your heart, you have his promise that he “will make straight your paths.” That is, he will show you the direction to take in your life. Where to go to college, whom to date, whom to marry, what career to pursue, where to live, when to start a family, when to change jobs. There are a multitude of very, very important decisions ahead of you in your life, and if you want to make the right call each time it’s imperative that you trust in God and his wisdom at every step.
It’s a weak analogy, but God is a bit like a GPS satellite. When people depend upon a GPS system, they use a device that sends a signal to a very complex processor that is so far above them in the heavens that they can’t even see it. But the satellite receives that signal and returns a signal to earth that enables a driver to find that pizza place or movie theater he’s looking for.
Depending on that heavenly guidance system beats driving around aimlessly, trusting your own instincts and hoping you will eventually run into what you’re looking for.
Solomon tells us not “to lean on your own understanding.” To lean on something means to place your weight on it, to trust it to support you. Leaning on your own understanding is to place your weight on something that may look sturdy but isn’t strong enough to support you in the end.
Not too long ago, the news carried a story about the second story floor of a building that gave way because it couldn’t hold the weight of everybody who was upstairs. A lot of people were injured in the collapse. Your own understanding is a lot like that floor. If you lean on your own understanding, even though it looks like something solid, you will wind up just like those folks, falling through the floor and landing in a heap. Don’t let this happen to you.
Instead, “Trust in the Lord will all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.” He will get you where you want to go and make you the man you want to be.
Remember: a boy trusts in himself; a real man trusts in God.
Father, I pray that my son will learn to trust in you with all of his heart, and learn to depend on your understanding and wisdom instead of his own. I pray that as he does, you will go before him, make his paths straight and fulfill every purpose you have for his life. In Jesus’ name, amen.