One Sunday morning a few weeks ago, our teacher Mike used an expression that I had not heard in many a moon. First, the context. He said when he was growing up, their family lived on a narrow dirt road. When he was about 14 and it was time to learn how to drive, his dad took him and their pickup down in the pasture. The truck had a stick shift, which is what most families had those days. If you are not familiar with a stick shift, it is where the vehicle has a clutch that is used to change gears. Well, the lessons went off without a hitch for the next few weeks, until it was time for Mike to take it out on the road for a test drive. When he got ready to go, his dad only told him one thing. He said, “Son, just keep it between the ditches.”

Now, my question to you is this: If we need someone to teach us how to drive, does it not make sense that we also need someone to teach us how to live? Believe me, this is a lot more complicated than learning how to drive a stick shift car or truck. Now, what about the millions of young people in our nation today, who do not have someone to teach them how to drive or how to live? My friend, whether you realize it or not, I have just identified one of the major problems in our nation today and one that contributes to a high percentage of crime, violence and other socio-economic problems.

I have some great news for you today. In our Sunday school class, we take one book of the Bible and go through it verse by verse, for as long as it takes until we finish it and then move on to another book. We are now in the process of studying one of my very favorite books of the Bible, the book of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon of Israel, reported to be the wisest man who ever lived. This book has 31 chapters, and you can see that by reading one chapter each day for a month, you can finish the whole book in a months’ time.

Here in my old age, I have learned a very important principle, and that is the value of repetition. If you read the book of Proverbs for an entire year, you will have read it all the way through 12 times. You may know that the book of Proverbs is part of what is known as “Wisdom” literature. In our nation today we have millions of people who have knowledge, but far fewer who have real and genuine wisdom. I can promise you this: read this book through 12 times and you will have more tools in your arsenal to achieve success than you have ever had before.

You can’t believe the difference this will make in your life. As I have said many times, the key to success in life is making wise choices, and “wisdom” and “wise” are in the same family. For most people it’s the same old problem, never enough time to do it right but always enough time to do it over. To be sure, I am an eternal optimist, and I just believe in the goodness of people. When we love people and show them that we care, we will help to bring out the best in them. This is the reason our “Character Education” course is so important, as we can teach our children these principles and concepts while they are young. While they are down in the pasture, so to speak.

(Jim Davidson is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist, and Founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in the Log Cabin Democrat in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated in over 375 newspapers in 35 states. For a personalized copy of “Your Future Begins Today” send $20, which includes postage and handling, to Jim Davidson, 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)