“Bad Boys, Whatcha gonna do?”
~ Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20) ~
For me, one of the biggest fears I had for my children when they entered elementary school was not so much the teachers, academics or location; it was the friends that my children would make and who would be an influence in their lives. I was particularly worried about Simon as he is a bit of a risk-taker and very social. After the first few weeks of school, Simon began to recount to me some of his recess activities with his new friends. Initially, everything seemed fine. He was playing soccer at lunch, running around and having fun. As time went on, Simon started to tell me stories about these same boys being sent to the vice-principal’s office. I advised my son to start spending some time with different boys who were not getting into trouble. He took my advice for a day but then returned to the other group. Well, two weeks ago Simon was sent to the office. At recess, one of the boys decided it would be fun to shove Simon. Simon retaliated by pushing back. The other boy then engaged in a fist fight with one of the other boys in the group. According to the vice-principal, Simon “was the least responsible” and was given a minor but well-deserved consequence. She was impressed that he told the truth and accepted responsibility for his actions. During our father/son conversation I told him that I was proud of him for telling the truth and accepting the consequences of his actions. The second part of the conversation Simon initiated. “Dad, I think I am going to play with my other friends.” And so far, that is what he has done.
Recently my small group listened to and discussed a message by Andy Stanley on Proverbs 13:20. In his message Andy talked about how important it was to have intentional relationships — to spend our time with people who would stretch us, hold us accountable and who would be positive influences in our lives and our walk with God. A fool is someone who knows what he is doing is harmful but does it anyway. Eventually, a fool will get into trouble and those around him will have to deal with the negative repercussions. How often do we find ourselves mixed-up in similar situations? With friends who involve themselves with reckless behaviours? Or end up facing the consequences of our own foolish actions which also causes fallout in the lives of those around us?
Simon’s experience at school was a great illustration of the proverb itself. Simon knew that the boys he was hanging around were getting into trouble and that they knew better (acting like fools). Despite my attempts to point him in the right direction, he continued to associate with them (refusing to walk with the wise). When their behaviour escalated into something more significant, Simon got caught up in the aftermath (suffering harm). Simon then chose to hang out with the boys who made better choices. He learned instinctually to put Proverbs 13:20 into practice; the lesson for us all is to be consistent in applying this principle into our lives.