My son and I talk a lot about his future in baseball. Over and over, he’s heard me say, “We aren’t working for right now, or even this season, but for years down the road.” To be good now, as a youth player, is great, sure. But, to sustain that over a long period of time, to continue to improve, to peak years down the road…well, that’s the goal.

Proverbs 4:10 provides the words of a father to his son: “Hear, my son, and accept my sayings, and the years of your life will be many.”

The father knows that he has wisdom to give his son that will save him from foolish mistakes that could end his life early. The father wants his son to enjoy a long life, for it to keep getting better, for him to keep growing in godliness and wisdom, for youth to be only the first part of a great life.

Three observations that might help us apply the desire of the real Father behind these words:

We’ll learn a lot if we pay attention. Seems obvious, right? “Hear” in this verse means more than just having the bones inside our ears move when the sound waves hit them. It means to lean in, to sit on the edge of our seat, to pay close attention. From God himself in the Scripture and from those he’s placed in our lives as his representatives, there is much to learn if we pay close attention. And the truth is, we pay attention to those we feel have something valuable to share with us. Consequently, if we aren’t paying attention to God’s word and his representatives, we believe what we already know is more valuable than anything we can learn from either of those sources.

We’ll learn a lot if we realize that those teaching us truly care about us and our futures. “My son…” I have two of them. I love them deeply. God’s love for his children is infinitely greater than that. Just like an earthly father wants the best for his son and therefore does all he can to teach and prepare him for the future, our heavenly father has revealed himself and his will for us in Scripture. The question is whether we trust in his love and care for us. If we do, we’ll pay close attention, trusting that he knows more than we do about how to be prepared for our future.

We’ll learn a lot if we never outgrow being a son. There comes a point, of course, when a man is no longer in the position of young son listening to an older father. One day, if our years are many, each of us will be the proverbial father figure in this verse. What then? Will we have it all figured out? Hardly. The wisest men I know are the ones who never outgrow being a son, being teachable, learning from the “fathers” in their lives. The moment we stop being sons, desperate to learn from our Heavenly Father, is the moment we pass from wisdom to folly.

Lord Jesus, I’m choosing to approach your word and your representatives like a son who needs what only a father can teach. Speak…I’m listening. Amen.