Win the mind of a youth win the future. In recent times, Christian leaders have made it clear that the evangelical church is failing to address and disciple young people. Wisdom is not being passed down from generation to generation. There is very little substantial preparation being made to address the problem. Any generation, and especially the rising one, is in need of ministers who will labor to apply God’s Word to their lives. They need mentors. They need preachers. And they need books that capture their hearts.
Dan Dumas has written such a book. Live Smart is a book which demands a young person’s attention. For, as Al Mohler notes in the forward, quoting the words that a wise mentor told him in his youth, “At the end of the day, much of who you are will be decided by the people you know and the books you read” (9). In Live Smart, Dan Dumas has endeavored to be faithful and apply the wisdom of Proverbs to the lives of high-school and college age young people. He makes vivid and practical applications to the struggles that youth face. But the wisdom that he outlines from the book of proverbs maintains relevance for the Christian walks of all believers.
Dumas focused on four vital areas of Christian growth: the Christian must grow in the way they relate to God, the way they act toward others, the way they walk personally, and in their appreciation for the gospel. Speaking of these four paths to spiritual growth in every Christian’s life Dumas urges young people not to squander their opportunities to live lives that count: “I’ve walked a little further down those paths, and I want you to know that those roads are the way to a full, bold, intentional life that counts for eternity” (16). He structures his book around these four areas, which are especially important as a generation of young people are tempted to turn their backs on the church.
The structure of the Live Smart is one of its sure strengths. Instead of narrowing his lens on certain aspects of growth to the neglect of others Dumas addresses the wisdom of scripture to the whole person. He starts by directing the heart orientation of young people toward God: “At the center of every future gospel leader is a robust, right, and lofty view of God” (21). In order to grow into men and women who are leaders—who love God, his word, and his people—high school and college students must love God, the bible, and the church now. Dumas demonstrates that the life of a teenager is not changed by aspiration alone but by aspiration and application: a teen must get serious now in order to be able to put his hand to the plow of faithfulness and leadership later.
In the following sections Dumas provides some of the concrete applications teens need. A relationship with God must bear fruit in service to others and in the cultivation of personal holiness. He urges young people to submit to the authorities God has placed in their lives, seek godly mentors, and serve others. He encourages teens to forget themselves for the joy of anticipating and meeting the needs of others: “Life will bring you more joy when you remove yourself from the center. True greatness is found in the pursuit of God’s glory and the good of other people” (64).
If authority is an area that is crucial in the life of a wise young person, then work ethic is an equally crucial area. Dumas challenges teenagers who know the temptation to procrastinate and let their homework stack up, “if you want to work hard as a young person, and please God with your life, then start working hard now. Focus. Make plans. Start things and finish them” (94). He offers this same sort of direct advice in his last section, where he directs his readers to pursue a life that is saturated in awe of the gospel, “Know the gospel. Taste it. Believe it, and never let it go” (125). This is an example of the powerful pleading applications that Dumas makes throughout his book as he seeks to capture the hearts of young people and see them pursue the glory of God.
The young Christian in high-school or college—who feels the pressure of classmates and the temptation to take life lightly—would be benefit by reading Dumas’ latest book. Their generation is in need of men of God who will labor to apply God’s Word to their souls. In Live Smart Dumas writes to capture their hearts and directly apply the Bible’s wisdom to their unique struggles. He urges them to grasp the significance of this time in their lives and “embrace the pursuit of wisdom” (136). He has grasped the call of the scriptures to the young person. Throughout the bible the young person is confronted with the call to see every area of their lives as an area where God can be glorified. He grasps this biblical vision and outlines tangible ways for teenagers to heed it. He leaves the reader with the admonition of the father to his son in Proverbs four, “Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her” (Proverbs 4:7-8). This book would make a great recommendation for young people in your church or family.