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Discerning CulturePodcast

Brett McCracken – The Wisdom Pyramid

We are raising children in the information age. We need a new unit of measurement- the exabyte. Experts predict in 2025, 463 exabytes will be created online every day. That’s the equivalent of over 270 million DVDs. Even more amazingly, that data is all available from a device I carry in my hand.

But what if all this information was not making my family more wise, but instead more foolish?

In today’s podcast we are going to talk to Brett McCracken about his book, The Wisdom Pyramid. In it McCracken lays out a vision for living a wise life by feeding on content that is good for our souls. With a glimpse at the food pyramid, he is going to encourage us to have large portions of those things that nourish us, and tiny amounts of those that don’t. I think you will find application for yourself and the discipleship of your children.

Brett McCracken serves as Senior Editor at The Gospel Coalition. He lives with his wife and two young children in Southern California. In addition he serves as an elder at Southlands Church.

Let’s listen to my conversation with Brett McCracken, talking about the Wisdom Pyramid and the challenge of gaining wisdom in a foolish age.

Resources From This Podcast

The Wisdom Pyramid: Feeding Your Soul in a Post-Truth World, by Brett McCracken

Topics Covered in This Week’s Podcast

00:15 Introduction

03:01 The current context for writing The Wisdom Pyramid

06:28 Describing the Wisdom Pyramid

11:08 Parallels between food sicknesses and information sicknesses

15:42 The levels in the Wisdom Pyramid

19:09 The Church as a source of wisdom

28:32 Choosing good sources of media

34:00 Casting a vision for a wise live, rather than a knowledgable but foolish life

41:52 Conclusion

Episode Transcript

Chap: I’m Chap Bettis, and you’re listening to The Disciple-Making Parent, a podcast of The Apollos Project, where we seek to equip parents and churches to pass the gospel to their children.

I don’t have to tell you that we’re raising children in what’s been called the information age. And the information is overwhelming. In fact, so much so that we need a new unit of measurement: the exabyte. Experts predict that in 2025, four hundred and sixty three exabytes will be created online every day. That’s the equivalent of over 270 million DVDs created every day. Even more amazingly, that data is also available from a device that I carry in my hand. All of that data is available to me. But what if all this information, rather than making us a smarter and more wise, is instead making us foolish?

Hi, my name is Chap Bettis and I’m the author of The Disciple-Making Parent. And in today’s podcast we’re going to talk to Brett McCracken about his book, The Wisdom Pyramid. In it, McCracken lays out a vision for living a wise life by feeding on contents that are good for our soul in proportions that are good for our soul. So with a glimpse at the food pyramid, he’s going to encourage us to have a large portion of those things that nourish us, and a smaller amount of things that don’t.

Well, I think you will find application for yourself and also the discipleship of your children.

McCracken serves as senior editor of The Gospel Coalition. He and his wife and two young boys live in Southern California. In addition, he serves as an elder at Southlands Church.

Before we start, though, I’d like to remind you that we give away the audiobook of The Disciple-Making Parentabsolutely free. We’re on a mission to equip parents to pass the gospel to their children, and The Disciple-Making Parent is at the centerpiece of our ministry. It has been endorsed by Al Mohler and Tim Challies, among others.

You can have the audiobook for free. So simply email, letting us know that you heard about this offer on the podcast.

But for now, let’s listen to my conversation with Brett McCracken as we talk about the Wisdom Pyramid and the challenge of gaining wisdom in a foolish age. Brett, thank you for being on the podcast.

Brett: Thank you so much Chap. I’m excited to talk about this with you.

Chap: Well, let me just read the opening paragraph. It’s very moving.

Our world has more and more information, but less and less wisdom. More data; less clarity. More stimulation; less synthesis.

And you go on and on.

More amusements; less joy.

There is more, but we are less. And we all feel it.

Talk a little bit about why you wrote the book. What motivated you to write the book?

Brett: Yeah. I mean, I think that opening section really captures the dynamic and the paradox that I was feeling in my own life. You know, I work as a digital editor for a website, so I’m very much immersed in the world, the digital ecosystem, on a daily basis, social media. You feel over time that while we have access to more information than ever before, it moves faster than ever before. Any question you have about anything is just a Google search away. We have the entire history of music on streaming sites, movies available. . . We’re inundated with all this content, and yet it’s not making us wise. So there’s clearly not a correlation to having more content or more information and becoming wiser.

And so that justst prompted me to think about, Well, maybe there’s actually dynamics of the information age that work against our wisdom. And we have more information at our fingertips, but less and less wisdom. So if that’s the case, then what do we do? How do we cultivate wisdom? How do we build habits and look in the right places for things that are conducive to our wisdom? So that was essentially the idea that prompted me to come up with the- originally it was like the concept of the Wisdom Pyramid. It started with that visual.

I was giving a conference presentation a few years ago on the topic of fake news and how to discern truth in a post-truth world. And it was for that conference presentation that I came up with the visual aid of the Wisdom Pyramid as a kind of riff off of the food pyramid. Basically, my thought was, the only way we can sort through the glut of information and start to kind of wisely discern truth from falsehood is by building a diet that is healthy and that’s properly proportioned around the things that are more conducive to wisdom at the bottom, and kind of less important for our wisdom at the top. So I came up with that graphic for that conference talk and the graphic sort of went viral on its own after that conference presentation. People were sharing it on social media, kind of ironically. It went viral. And so that was the beginning of the concept of the Wisdom Pyramid.

And then a couple of years later I thought about, maybe I should expand this as a book and really dig into each section of the Wisdom Pyramid and try to make a case for these categories of knowledge that we need to be looking to more: more than social media, more than the internet for truth and for wisdom. So that’s the origin.

Chap: Well, we can go a lot of different places, but talk a little bit about that graphic. It’s based on the food groups that we grew up grew up with, right? And so there’s the bottom, the idea that I should have more of the resources at the bottom, less at the top. And so those represent scripture, the church- and I want to talk about each of these- nature, books, and beauty, and then at the top is an iPhone.

Brett: Right, in the fats, oils, and sweets category.

Chap: Yeah. And ironically our diet is upside down to that often. Before we talk about that, though, I’m skipping ahead in your book here, but talk a little bit about the difference between wisdom and knowledge. So you talk about how we’re just inundated with knowledge. Every day we read a novel’s worth of words, but it’s information. And I think what you’re doing in the book is casting a vision for wisdom. Knowledge is a component of that, but it’s not the same. So talk a little bit about that- the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

Brett: I think everyone kind of intuitively knows that they’re different because we all know, like, really smart people who like have PhDs and have high IQs, but are very unwise in how they live, you know? And then on the flip side, we probably all know people who maybe never went beyond a high school education, and they’re just kind of humble people, but they they’re wise. We would actually look to them as wise people. So just having tons of knowledge does not make you wise and having a lack of knowledge does not necessarily make you unwise.

I would say wisdom is more about a moral orientation than anything. It is not just about knowing the right things. It’s about living rightly and living in accord with God’s order and his design. I recently described wisdom as kind of like playing a chord on a piano where you’re playing the right keys such that a pleasant sound comes out. Foolishness is like randomly playing keys that have no design. You’re not following any notes. You’re just kind of going your own way. That’s going to result in dissonance and chaos. But if you play the right notes according to a design of an instrument, it will be pleasing. It will be a nice chord.

And I think that’s what wisdom is. Wisdom is, in so far as we live into God’s design, his moral order. . . That’s how we become wise. It’s kind of orienting all of our ways around him. Proverbs says in all your ways, acknowledge him and he will make straight your path. So I think there’s a moral dynamic. It’s about application, how we live in light of knowledge. So it’s not just about data in your brain. It’s about how you live in accord with God’s reality and his design.

Chap: So we’re to grow in knowledge, but we’re also to live skillfully as well, to live in sync with our creator, with our creation, with the Savior. And so more knowledge about maybe, you know, the ins and outs of all the Super Bowls or the latest cat video is not going to help us necessarily be more wise.

Brett: And you think about leaders. Leaders are given information all the time from multiple perspectives. And in many cases it’s real and true information, but leadership is knowing what to do with that and how to make the best decision sometimes among competing goods. And I think the truly wise leader is able to discern the right path, given all the information that they have at their disposal, but also given what they know of the broader order of things.

Chap: That’s excellent. And that leads into a little bit here, the sicknesses you talk about. But I think you’re right in terms of this idea that lots of knowledge, but able to sort through. What should I listen to? At this point it’s not important, file away, et cetera. That’s really good.

So talk about, you start with different food sicknesses that we have. Talk a little bit about those.

Brett: Yeah. So the three that I talk about are too much information, so kind of information and gluttony. Just like eating too much food will make you sick, too much information I think is not good for our mental and spiritual health.

The second one is too fast. So the speed of the digital age is not conducive to wisdom. It’s making us foolish. And again, there’s kind of a parallel with eating food. You never want to eat food so fast that it makes you sick. And in general fast food is not really the most nutritious food for you. And honestly, I think a lot of us are consuming the digital equivalent of fast food in terms of social media and Tik Tok and, you know, scanning the internet in a very superficial mile-wide-inch-deep kind of way. We’re essentially just going back to this buffet line of unhealthy junk food and that’s our diet.

So too much, too fast.

And then the third source of our sickness is this orientation around me, the individual. Just too focused on me. The internet age, which is driven by algorithms, which can tailor things to individual consumers, just amplifies an already existing problem in Western culture, which is individualism kind of run amok. Where everything is increasingly about me, my point of view, look within yourself for truth, follow your heart. You know, that whole philosophical posture is now kind of amplified by this digital infrastructure that presents the world and reality as something that should revolve around you.

And so each of us experiences the world in a different way because of our feeds being what we’ve decided we want to see. And so you can opt out of things and opt into things. And over time, the algorithm figures you out and starts to feed you more of what you already like. And you can see where there’s a parallel with eating food, right?

You’re not going to be physically healthy if you only ever eat your favorite foods. Like, my favorite food is probably a chocolate chip cookie with sea salt, but if I only ever ate chocolate chip cookies with sea salt, I would be very sick very quickly. So a balanced diet is healthy for us.

Not just going with our gut is good for us. If I’m walking in a forest and I look at a mushroom, that’s growing by a tree and my gut says I’m going to eat that, that looks at edible. And that could not end well, right? That could kill me. And so going with our gut and trusting our intuition, as much as our culture says you should do that-

follow your heart, just kind of go with your gut- It doesn’t always end well. And so wisdom, I think, is actually having a healthy degree of self-doubt and kind of skepticism about your first inclination or your where your heart is leading you. I think if you read the Proverbs that comes through very clearly. Do not lean on your own understanding,

Proverbs 3, Do not be wise in your own eyes. And yet that’s the way of our world today. It really tells us as individuals, Don’t listen to anyone else, don’t let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. Just kind of go with your heart. Anyway. So I think those are three big sicknesses that are working against our wisdom.

Chap: Well, and I think it’s really hard as a Christian, if we’re pressing against ourselves, to say There are things I don’t need to know about. So under this eating too much, just to say Actually, no. Knowing all this actually is making me stupider. And similarly, I need to be having some contact with people, ideas that are outside my comfort zone. If I’m only having ideas in my area that I’m going to also be dumber, stupider. It’s dumbing me down.  So that’s really helpful.

Okay. Let’s talk about the Wisdom Pyramid there. Let’s work our way up.

Brett: You want me to just go through each level quickly?

Chap: Yes. I think some are some are given, but yeah, I want to comment on a couple and hear your thoughts on them.

Brett: So yeah, from the bottom up it goes- Again, the idea is most essential for our wisdom and then progressively less important, although still valuable. I will say that as a caveat, everything on the wisdom pyramid has the potential to give us valuable nutrition for our wisdom. It’s just that as you get closer to the top, there’s also more potential for toxins to be introduced in those categories.

So the Bible is the kind of foundational level for the wisdom, so that is hopefully a given. If you’re listening to this as a Christian, God’s word is the closest access we have to the source of wisdom, right? If wisdom is God, if it comes from him, as James says, All wisdom is from above, it doesn’t kind of come from us, it’s something we ask for, it’s God-given, he defines wisdom, then it makes sense that we are wise insofar as we seek his direct revelation, his words. And so something that you’ll notice about the categories of the wisdom pyramid going from the bottom up- and this was kind of my ordering rationale- as I ordered the levels people often asked me, like, “How did you decide to put nature above books?” and “Why is it in the order that it is?” And my answer is it’s all about proximity to God. So if it’s true, what I just said about wisdom comes from God, then the sources of knowledge that are closest in proximity to God have to be the most essential.

And so the Bible is the closest we have. It’s his word. But then I would argue the church is arguably the second closest we have, because it’s God’s presence among his people.

It’s his institution. All other institutions in the world are manmade. The church is the one God-made institution, God-formed community. And so community in general is good for our wisdom, but a God-made community is essential for our wisdom. And there’s a lot of things I could say about the church as a source of wisdom.

Chap: Let me interject. Two things. One is, I just think with scripture, Paul says to Timothy, Continue in what you’ve learned and because convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and How from infancy, you’ve known the scriptures which are able to make you wise unto salvation. So there’s a spiritual wisdom. I think you sometimes can have worldly, foolish Christians, but who know Christ as the source of spiritual wisdom.

And it’s amazing, I don’t know if you have this experience, but to me, whenever I’m listening to a TED talk, it’s like, they’re about to just give you revelation that no one in the world has ever known. But we have this book that tells us the beginning of the world, the end of the world, the greatest day on earth, the cross, and the resurrection of Christ. And those mysteries by knowing them, we are wise in spiritual things. Plus we have, for example, the book of Proverbs and Ephesians, just living wisely in relationship. So I appreciate that.

Talk about the church as a source of wisdom. So as a speaker who talks to a lot of parents, I find that they will Google their parenting questions rather than Googling the church. So talk about that, just the church as a source of wisdom.

Brett: There’s a lot to say here, but one thing is that if scripture is kind of the most important source of nutrition for our wisdom, the church historically has been like the primary interpretive community of scripture. So let’s be honest. The Bible is not easy to unpack for 21st century Western people. And so we need help and it’s not easy to do in isolation. That’s where the church is so important for our wisdom. It’s this community of unpacking scripture together, learning it, applying it, helping each other figure out how to apply scriptural truth in everyday life. So there’s that aspect of how it relates to scripture as an interpretive community.

I think also the community accountability aspect. You don’t become wiser in life solo. You just, you don’t. It just amplifies the self-deception tendencies I already talked about, the kind of looking within yourself, following your heart, that never leads to wisdom. So to submit yourself to a larger community and actually say, I want you to be a mirror to me. I want you to point hard truths out so that we’re edifying each other and growing together, then we actually have a shot at becoming wiser when we’re in this community of accountability.

A third thing that I’ll say is just the way that church orients our hearts in the direction of loving God and worshiping him. I often think about Psalm 1 as like a wisdom psalm, and it’s a really simple image. It’s the tree that is growing by the river. Solomon compares that to the one who delights in the law of the Lord is like the sturdy tree by the river bearing fruit in season. Whereas the fool is the one who’s far away from that river of truth and they’re easily blown away. And I think that that delighting in the law of the Lord speaks to our hearts and our loves.

And it’s not enough to just know scripture cerebrally, we need to love it and delight in it. And what’s going to make us sturdy pillars of wisdom, like the tree by the river. It’s if we’re drawing nourishment from the river of God’s truth in a way that it’s kind of like the deer in the Psalms, As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longs after you. We need to long for God’s presence. And I just think church is a good way to shape our hearts in that direction of delighting in the word of God and longing after God’s presence. That’s why we sing. That’s why historically throughout church history, music has been a part of it because there’s something about singing and music that actually engages our hearts and tunes our hearts to sing God’s praise. So it’s not just about the head, it’s about the heart. So that’s a huge part of wisdom. And we can talk about that more with beauty. That’s where I talk a lot about the heart and our loves. But wisdom involves our worship and our love of God.

Chap: So in your pyramid, it goes Nature, then Books, then Beauty. Let’s kind of group the nature and beauty together and talk about those.

Brett: Yeah. I like when people kind of make that connection, that nature and beauty are a good pair because one way that I describe the two of them is that nature is God’s creation and beauty is human creation. So the humans are the image of God, right? We bear the image of God. So naturally we are creators by instinct. We image God by making things and making meaning. But the reason why nature is more foundational is because it’s made by an infallible being: God. Whereas everything in the arts, everything beautiful in the realm of human creation is fallible. ‘Cause we’re all imperfect beings. So there can be truth and goodness to be gained, but there can also be error and distortion in that category.

But nature is, even though aspects of it, the fall of man has kind of tarnished, in general we can look to nature as like God’s good design. This is the world he made and there’s so much wisdom to be gained by just paying attention to that. Actually respecting the design that he made, stewarding it well. The Bible even instructs us to do this time and time again, whether it’s Psalm 19 saying The heavens declare the glory of God. So there’s that element of God’s creation helps us to worship him because it points us to the creator.

But then there’s just all sorts of little pearls of wisdom, like in the Proverbs, like Look to the ant. And you can learn things about diligence. And even Jesus, if you pay attention to his parables and his storytelling, is always invoking nature as a teaching tool.

And I think that makes sense because the same guy who created nature is the same guy who wrote the Bible, right? It’s the same author. So there should be natural parallels that we see in the way that God made the world, whether it’s trees or rivers or whatever, and the truth that he reveals to us in scripture.

And so I just think that Christians need to not be afraid of looking to nature for wisdom, as long as it doesn’t be on the same level as scripture. That’s the key. Nature is an illuminating resource only as long as scripture is the foundational source of truth, the special revelation, and nature is just kind of a supplemental general revelation that can help truth in scripture digest a bit more, or we can start to make connections. Just like Psalm 1. I’ve already talked about like the author of Psalm 1 is trying to get us to see a scriptural truth by pointing us to a river and a tree growing by a river.

You know, I love going to Zion National Park. That’s one of my favorite places in the world. And there’s a little river, the Virgin River, that goes through this desert landscape. And anytime you see a river in a desert, something that will immediately jump out to you as like, Oh, there’s suddenly there’s life and greenery and there’s big trees and a whole ecosystem of life. And now when I go and sit before that river and I look at it, the truth of Psalm one just sinks into my heart in a different way, because I make that connection. Oh yeah. I’m like that tree, if I am by that river, if I orient my life around the right nourishment of God’s truth, then I will be healthy. And if I don’t, I’m going to be like the desert plants that are kind of wasting away far away from the live stream of the water. So I could go on and on about nature because I just love being outside and making those connections. I think Christians sometimes are a little skittish of it for various reasons. Environmentalism has political connotations or whatever, but man, I think it’s a really valuable source for.

Chap: I agree with that. Well, a couple of comments. First, I just went to Zion this past summer, loved it, hiked the narrows, just a really amazing place. And then you’re going to laugh. But one application after reading your book- so this is not the application you intended, I’m sure- is I started following a couple of those Twitter accounts that have nature, you know, just 15 seconds of nature. Isn’t nature beautiful? That type of thing. So here I am using media. I think what you’re getting at is serious Christians, intentional Christians can sometimes become unimaginative or so word focused- you can’t be too word focused, but to the detriment of creation.

Brett: I love that. One thing I say when I talk about good ways Christians can use the internet and social media is exactly what you described. If you’re using online media to point you to the lower categories of the wisdom pyramid, whether it’s a social media account that has nature videos or an article on a website that helps you unpack scripture, that’s a good use of technology if it’s pointing you to those more nourishing sources of wisdom.

Chap: Well, talk about that. I think older books, books are sources of wisdom. They’re not God’s word. So I think that’s a given. Talk a little bit about what you would say are good sources of media, besides what you just talked about. And then I want to talk about what your practices are and how you integrate that into your life.

Brett: In terms of like how to discern like good resources from bad resources, this is where I think the structure of the pyramid is helpful. The Bible is the foundation. It offers a foundation horizontally, but also vertically as scaffolding. A quick way to discern- If you’re reading a book for example, and you’re trying to discern Is what this author is saying true? Should I discard this? Should I file this away? Well, if you’re a Christian and you know enough about scripture, that provides you a grid through which you can evaluate the relative merits of any given resource, whether it’s a news source website or a book or a film in the category of beauty. So I think at the end of the day, how we discern a nutritious resource is, Does it have value that is truthful from what we know of truth and scripture, or is it the opposite? Is it kind of demonstrably untrue in terms of what we know of God’s truth and scripture?

So I just think that one thing that I’ve been saying that is a little idealistic, perhaps, but

is kind of my hope is that because Christians have the Bible as our foundation, or we should, we should be well-positioned to be the most intellectually curious, the most well-equipped to appreciate the sciences and the arts and books and the humanities. This is really how the universities were founded way back in the day, the Oxfords of the world, Harvard, they were founded on this idea of scripture as the ultimate truth actually empowers us and enables us to discover truth in all realms of life.

But if you don’t have scripture as the foundation, suddenly it becomes a more messy, foggy proposition, because how do I know that this is true in the realm of science or arts or literature. Your truth, my truth . . . Who’s going to arbitrate that? Well, scripture for us is the one that arbitrates that. And so that’s why being grounded in scripture is so important. Because it enables us to become educated and to learn and to listen to all sorts of perspectives, even perspectives of non-Christians, in a position of strength. Because we’re able to say, Yeah, that’s true. But that’s not true. And I can read a single book and I can mark in the margins Yes, trueand No, false, sometimes on the same page. And that’s okay. And that’s what we should be doing. We should be critical engagers of culture. But it’s hard to do that if you don’t have a foundation of ultimate truth. That’s why scripture is so important for us.

That’s why, to come to parenting a little bit since that’s the topic of your podcast, I’m a huge advocate for Christian education, whatever that looks like: homeschool, a private Christian education. Because I think increasingly in today’s secular world, we need to be able to ground our kids in God’s truth in his Bible such that they are well-positioned to be able to discern all the claims and all the ideas that are floating around in the culture.

And if they’re not scripturally sound, and if we don’t set them up for success with that foundation of wisdom, it’s going to be a really dicey world for them. There’s so many voices coming at them with really toxic ideas. And it’s easy to go along with those ideas if you can’t readily summon scriptural truth to be able to keep those untruths in check.

Chap: I appreciated a number of different things. Well, just to go back earlier, even beside scripture, the grid of the church, and being able to say If you’re getting ideas that are contrary to your church– So we’ve just gone through these huge debates over these past couple of years. And to say, Well, what’s the fruit I see in the church that I’ve chosen, and these leaders? And so the doctrine of proximity says, Oh, I should probably talk to them and believe them a little bit more than the disembodied person that I’m hearing. Because  feel that as an author or a speaker, I just come into a place and if I can spin a good tale, you don’t know what’s going on in my own family. I can just spin anything you want. And so there’s something about that proximity.

So as you were talking about scripture, which I 100% agree with, I also was thinking, Well, slightly above that in your pyramid is the local church as well. The church, both the local and universal church. But as I was reading your book and bringing it through the grid of The Disciple-Making Parent and thinking, I think you’re casting a vision for the flourishing wise life. That’s, what you’re trying to do. That’s what I took from it. At the end of the day, here’s some things to do, but the vision here is not a knowledgeable foolish life, but a wise life that includes proper proportions. And so I was thinking for parents, that that’s one thing to say, Am I being overly influenced by the internet and ignoring the word, the church? Am I showing, modeling for my children this flourishing life? And then also thinking, especially if I’ve got teens, It’s not just about the do’s and the don’ts. It is, there are some do’s and don’ts, but I want you to be a wise young man and young woman. Do you agree with that? You’re dad of a three-year-old now, so you’re just starting out. How old are your kids again at this point?

Brett: Three-and-a-half, one-and-a-half, and then in the womb still, soo to arrive in the world. There’s a lot that you just said that I want to touch on, but the do’s and the don’ts piece, I was very mindful when I wrote this book that I didn’t want it to come across as yet another anti-technology screed where it’s hand-wringing over too much screen time, put down your phone. I wanted it to more be about the do’s, if anything, instead of focusing on Don’t spend all your time scrolling on your device, although I think it’s important to be mindful of that. I wanted to just make a positive case for, Here are all these other, better, more nourishing things that you need to be looking to.

Because it will make you more joyful. It will lead you to more flourishing. Trust me. God’s word is better than Tik Tok. I don’t want to spend all my time bashing Tik Tok, I want to make the case for why the eternal word of the living God should be more appealing to you and more beautiful.

And so I was thinking as a parent myself, I want to live in such a way and order my own habits and intakes in such a way that my sons see, Oh, Dad loves the Bible. He loves the church. He loves nature. We’ve been trying to practice the wisdom pyramid in our own household. And so I read the Bible every morning in front of my kids. I have a chair in the living room while they’re having breakfast, where they see Dad reading the Bible.

Chap:  A paper Bible?

Brett: A paper Bible, right. Yeah. And sometimes my son Chet will crawl into my lap like Daddy, I wanna to read with you. Of course that warms my heart. I’m like, Yes, that’s what I want! But we go to church every week. I’m an elder in a local church. That’s a huge priority for us and it’s not an obligation. It’s something we take joy in. And I hype it up with my sons on Saturday night, like, Tomorrow we’re going to go to church. Aren’t you excited to see our friends and to see this person and that person?

And then we go on walks as a family. We’re big lovers of nature, national parks. And when we go on vacation, we tend to prioritize places of natural beauty so we’re going to Banff in Canada this summer for our family vacation. I think it’s important that parents don’t just tell this, but they live it in their own life, and they’re modeling for their kids what a flourishing life looks like when it’s ordered around these more nourishing things.

And part of that does include parents being mindful of screen time. And so there is an element of the Don’t. Do these things, but also don’t always be on your phone.

You know, if your kids see their parents constantly scrolling on their phone, of course they’re going to think this is the coolest device ever and I want to spend my time doing that. And that’s where I struggle. I think anyone in today’s world, any parent probably struggles with that because so much of our lives now are lived through the smartphone. Even the functional things of life, like turning on the air conditioner, I have to like get my phone out to do that. Buying groceries, I have to get my phone out to do that. So it’s a tricky thing. And I don’t want to put all the emphasis on Decrease your screen time, because I don’t know how realistic that is for some parents who even work from home. I work from home and in front of my kids, they see me on my computer all the time. So I think we’re going to have to figure out how can we simultaneously not be on our devices more than we need to be, and how can we kind of cast a vision for these other non-screen activities as actually being what your kids end up wanting to do freely?

One of my favorite things is when my son is watching a cartoon and he’s like, Dad, I want to go outside. I’m done watching TV and I want to go outside. It’s like, Yes. I want him to start to live life in a way where he wants things like being in nature more than he wants to be looking at a device, or he wants to read the Bible not just as an obligation, but because he loves it. But all of that takes modeling as parents and habituating your kids by demonstrating it. That’s why us as dads and moms, I think we have to really practice this first in our own lives.

Chap: As you were talking, I was thinking about your analogy to the buffet. And so the eight-year-old really will choose all the dessert and nothing that’s good for him. And so part of that, whether it’s 8 or 15 is saying, I’m going to help you because you’re not going to make wise choices. And then at some point, Lord willing, it kicks in later to say, I’m thankful my mom would not let me eat dessert. But then also what you’re saying is, we had dessert. We had it around the house, we enjoyed it. . .

Brett: . . . in its proper place. Yeah, that’s good. And I think that we need to recognize how closely parallel this is. Because I know some California parents who are all about clean eating and healthy eating. And so it’s like the worst thing ever when their kid eats a Snickers or Doritos instead of organic blue corn chips or something. And yet that same parent doesn’t really care that their kid is on the iPad 24/7. And what I want to say is eating soda water and Snickers and being on your iPad all the time are the same thing- they’re both bad for your kid’s health. And so if you care about the physical one for them, you at least as much need to care about what’s feeding their soul and the diet that’s coming into their soul.

So that’s really where this food pyramid/wisdom pyramid. . . We really need to think about how closely related they are because our physical health depends on our intakes just like our spiritual health depends on our intakes. And so healthy diets are important in both spheres.

Chap: I appreciate that. Absolutely. Well, the book is The Wisdom Pyramid, and I just appreciate you giving a vision. I don’t hear even Christian leaders contrasting wise and foolish living. And I think that’s a lot of times what we see, but we’re not able to put a term on it. And so here not only is this vision of a wise life, but also here’s the resources, here’s the mix and the way to think about it. So, Brett, thank you for your time and for the insight that you’ve given us. We appreciate it.

Brett: Thank you, Chap. I enjoyed it.

Chap: You’ve been listening to the Disciple-Making Parent podcast, a ministry of The Apollos Project. For more information about the book, The Disciple-Making Parent, visit And for more information about our ministry, visit