Nature vs. Nurture


Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.  So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight–why the bush does not burn up.” – Exodus 3:1-3 (NIV)

It has been an ongoing argument in the study of man; which is more important – nature (what is inside of us) or nurture (what is outside of us).  The nature argument leans on genetics, physiology and some psychology.  The nurture argument comes from the philosophy, religion, sociology and some psychology.  There are some valid points from both perspectives and many experts say that both have varying influences throughout our lives.  Moses benefited from both.

Moses had lived a life of privilege and advantage, and showed a natural inclination toward justice and leadership, but God changed his location in order to change his heart and mind.  Nature and nurture can be the levers to move the other.  When God needed to grow something in Moses, He used a change in nurture to change his nature.  When God met Moses in the burning bush, He appeals to Moses’ nature to change his nurture.

This is an amazing characteristic of God, but it is also incredibly important for parenting.  We need to be experts at helping our children navigate the nature and the nurture in their lives.  Sometimes we may need to alter that nurture to help them see their nature.  Sometimes we will need to change their nurture to open their minds to their nature.  Have you ever seen your child’s demeanor completely transform just be being in a different location?   Have you ever helped your child overcome a fear so they could go places they never went to before?

When we push them to go into different circumstances, it helps them understand who they are in ways they never would if they stayed in the same location.  When we help them figure out a little more about who God created them to be, the world becomes a bigger place.  Sometimes they need to go into the wilderness to see who they are.  Sometimes seeing who they are will help them go into the wilderness.  As parents we need to ask for God’s help in knowing when we need to help with one or the other.

Lord, help us to lead our children to the right places at the right time.  Help us to see who you are creating them to be so we can help them get closer to your design every day.  Give us the wisdom and insight to know our children and help them make their journey closer to you. Amen.

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