Parents should equip their children to acquire, develop, and practice intellectual virtue, because this is a necessary (but not sufficient) requirement for shalom. But what is intellectual virtue? An intellectual virtue is an excellence of the mind. It is an intellectual character trait that enables one to reason well for the purpose of living well. Some examples of intellectual virtues that Scripture urges us to embody include attentiveness, prudence, teachability, intellectual tenacity, intellectual humility, love of truth, and wisdom. It does not matter whether one becomes a college professor, computer technician, artist, or electrician. Simply by virtue of being human, we live more fulfilled lives and can perform our jobs better if we possess the intellectual virtues and apply their fruit to our lives ….

Seeking to develop intellectual virtue in our children is also important as a safeguard against some of the ways in which our culture seeks to influence people. Several years ago, a PBS program detailed an advertising strategy called emotional branding. The strategy is "to fill the empty places where noncommercial institutions, like schools and churches, might once have done the job. Brands become more than just a mark of quality, they become an invitation to a longed-for lifestyle, a ready-made identity." This program points out that those who are brand managers talk as if they truly are fulfilling the needs people have for meaning, community, and even transcendence. Of course, in the end, it's only an iPod, a car, or a pair of running shoes. But this works out for the companies, because people have to go shopping again in the attempt to get these needs met.

This is related to intellectual virtue, because in emotional branding the advertiser tries to bypass the rational mind and tap into these longings we possess. They want us to associate these longings with their products or services, and they seek to accomplish this by their marketing and advertising. The intellectually virtuous person will recognize that the kind of car one drives is generally unrelated to finding meaningful relationships with other people. We need to teach our children to be careful, critical thinkers, for not only advertisers but also politicians, pastors, and others may use the same methods of persuasion. One of the best safe-guards in these contexts is a sound mind.

Reprinted by permission of Kregel. All rights reserved.

Related Elsewhere:

Wise Stewards is available from and other book retailers.

CT's previous articles onfamilyand parenting include:

The Myth of the Perfect Parent | Why the best parenting techniques don't produce Christian children. (January 8, 2010)
White Flag in the Mommy Wars| The theology that many parents are missing. (September 28, 2009)
The Fatherless Child| It is a unique cultural moment for the church to act like a family. (October 9, 2007)

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Wise Stewards: Philosophical Foundations of Christian Parenting
Wise Stewards: Philosophical Foundations of Christian Parenting
Kregel Academic & Professional
192 pp., 24.99
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