Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Word to the Wise

It came to me suddenly in the middle of the night. A single word, simple but profound, that encompasses everything that has in some respects been lacking in me; a word that perhaps expresses why I’ve been going through what I’ve been going through the past few weeks and where God would have me grow.


A good leader requires wisdom. A good spouse must have it too. And a good parent needs it in spades.

Wisdom is knowledge of the head AND the heart. It is the ability to understand people and situations and how they interact. It values relationships as well as things; it seeks solutions that will empower others and help others grow.

Wisdom is being able to see the whole scope of a problem, project, or challenge and work out the details to get to the end successfully.

Wisdom looks at all aspects of a situation and uses knowledge to make good judgments.

Wisdom takes the time it needs to think, then takes action boldly and with confidence.

Wisdom meets obstacles not with fear but with courage, vision, and innovative thinking.

Wisdom doesn’t think it can do everything on its own; it relies on the good counsel of others who have knowledge or skills it lacks, seeks and develops the gifts and talents of others, and shows great respect to those who help clarify understanding or who take the risk to speak truths it may not want to hear. It shares credit with all those who have had a hand in its successes.

Wisdom shows true humility when mistakes are made, not passing the buck or making excuses, but taking responsibility. And then wisdom does its best to change what can be changed and to mend relationships or trust that have been broken. Wisdom goes forward to the future having learned from the past, and knows that perhaps next time the lesson will be less painful.

In Job’s Daughters we are taught that wisdom includes “both just thinking and right conduct.”

God has given me many gifts: enthusiasm, intelligence, genuine concern and care for others, dedication, true joy in my work and in my family.

But I have never been particularly gifted with the quality of true wisdom, either with my work tasks, as a leader, or in my relationships. It’s always been a challenge for me. Is it the Peter Principle in action? Perhaps. I can be terribly superficial and oblivious sometimes, both to the thoughts and feelings of others and to the details of a situation. And though it is never intentional, that can doom the success of any venture, not to mention hurt others that have put their trust and respect in me.

So how does one develop wisdom? Fortunately, the answer is simple (although not easy!):

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. (James 1:5-6, NIV).

So it is time to think and pray, to ask for wisdom in all that I say and do, to believe that God will help me grow and develop into the kind of leader, wife, mother and person He would have me to be. Going to His Word will be a necessary element as well, as it is the true Source of wisdom. (Perhaps a little study in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes would be a good plan!)

I have had many such growth opportunities over the course of my life--the four years of college were nothing but!--and as painful as the process is, I have always looked back gratefully and thanked the Lord for the new maturity He has given me.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.

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