My son, if your heart is wise, my heart will rejoice —indeed, I myself; Yes, my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak right things. (Proverbs 23:15–16—NIV)

One of the most disconcerting things for godly parents is to watch their parenting years tick by, fruitlessly anticipating some special spark of mature grace to be evident in their teenager. There is a palpable anxiety in prayer for their offspring that God will pursue their heart and that they would respond with a thirst for righteousness.

Parents know that each child is different and, when the teenage years hit, they realize that their children too are among the sons of Adam. The years can get pretty dark and the outcome rather uncertain. Parenting is not for cowards or the occasionally engaged. It really is a 24-7 priority.

Our heavenly Father here gives us a wonderful insight into the dynamics of the parenting marathon and the approaching goal line. Not only is this significant for earthly parents but it is also instructive of His process for all His children who would be spiritually mature.

We know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom from the first chapter in Proverbs. Solomon gives many verses on the fear of the Lord throughout the book. Our text displays two components of the successful parenting test.

The first component is the “heart” of wisdom. It is formed in faith and belief in God’s truth. This is forged in the childhood years by consistent parental modeling for them (Deuteronomy 6:4-8) and acquainting them with godliness (Proverbs 22). This part of the test is the draining, active, investment of life into your child.

The second component of the successful parenting test is the one the anxious parent waits for, prays for, and yearns for through the teenage years – when their children’s lips “speak right things”. What takes root in the heart will come out of the mouth as our Lord tells us. Often this affirmation of parental success is at the tail end of what my wife and I refer to as the “teenage tunnel of darkness.” God graciously gives those little anecdotal evidences of hope as parents expectantly await maturity in their teens. God here tells us that the real fruit of success is when our children speak forth truth from inner conviction and it sounds wonderfully familiar to the parents for it broadly affirms what God desires in His mature saints.

There is absolutely nothing that will make a parent’s heart happier as he launches his child into adulthood. Do you see the valuable perspective God has given you in these two simple verses?