I had just returned from a conference related to cell groups and in our growing church it seemed appropriate that we implement this programme. So then, at the next leader’s meeting I outlined the strategy I had just received. My team whole heartedly accepted this plan and soon after we launched it within our church. It went very well as group leaders were appointed and became pastoral workers for those under their charge. However, in my enthusiasm I lost an outstanding leader and friend of mine, simply because at our initial team leader’s meeting, he was not present and I had not spent time afterwards sharing with him. He was hurt due to my lack of wisdom. Over the years I have prayed almost daily for wisdom, but I missed God’s leading on this occasion. Do you ever lack wisdom due to your fleshly enthusiasm in moving forward without first hearing from God? Sometimes what you may want to do may seem like a good idea, but do it God’s way and in God’s timing. Our hearts can deceive us if we are not careful.
Eugene Peterson puts it succinctly when he writes, “We are glutted with information but we are starved for wisdom. We know so much about everything under the sun, but we live astonishingly trivial lives. Why? Why do we know so much and live so badly? Well, partly at least because we as a culture are admiring the wrong people and have lost touch with ‘the wise.’ “
Proverbs is the book of wisdom where the word ‘wisdom’ appears 52 times. For example:
The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight… 1:1,2
For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding, 2:6
My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion, 3:21
Unfortunately, Solomon could talk about wisdom with impressive insight, but in the end, failed through not taking his own advice.
- The Oxford dictionary defines wisdom as ‘the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.’
- I was disappointed in browsing through my leadership books on the subject of ‘wisdom’ to discover that I could only find two books which touched on that subject. Yet this is one of the essential qualities of leadership.
- It usually takes time to develop wisdom. It’s as we reflect on past experiences including our mistakes, that with the Lord’s help we grow. Peter Drucker puts it simply, ‘Always ask about the things you are seeing, ‘What does this mean?”
- ‘If we lack wisdom, cry out to God for it,’ says James (1:5). Solomon initially had a desperate cry for wisdom in leading his people (1 Kings 3:7-9, 12, 28), but unfortunately through the deceitfulness of his heart, he finished his life poorly. (1 Kings 11:39).
- Wisdom comes through listening to others. In seeking the truth, don’t simply go to people who always agree with you. Go to those who speak the truth. ‘Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy’ (Prov 27:6). Even little children can have wisdom (Matt11:25).
- We have all had dreams of what it would be like to live in a perfect world, such as having a flourishing ministry, with good team members, financial abundance and spiritual fruit in whatever form that may take. The truth is that we do not live in a perfect world. Viv Thomas* looks at the life of Daniel, who transported out of his home country arrived in a foreign culture, where he had to learn another language along with many other things. Daniel shows us that when ministering cross-culturally, we need extra wisdom. With wisdom, Daniel learnt to walk with God in his difficult pathway.
- Amy Carmichael gives good advice, ‘others may, I may not’. Wisdom makes the right and sometimes hard choice without judging others.
- Knowledge may lead to wisdom, but as one person rightly observes, ‘the theories of this generation are likely to be replaced by others in the next generation and altered once again by the following generation’. Jesus modelled the necessity of going after wisdom, Luke 2:40, 52 as did Paul, Eph 1:17. Treasures of knowledge and wisdom are ultimately found in Christ, Col 2:3.
- We make a mistake in appointing people into leadership who have not first been tried and tested. For this reason, I have found giving a person a probation period before finalising a vital appointment is wise. Doing it this way means I can ascertain whether they have the right spirit, even if we may disagree on some things. In the early church, they appointed people who were already functioning in a position, Acts 6:3. In appointing Elders in this way, we as leaders have not made mistakes.
- When listening to significant conversations, it is sometimes useful to quieten one’s heart and discern if there are other influences at work. Sometimes people may say the right thing, but their spirit is not correct. Picking this up is wisdom at work.
A prayer for wisdom: ‘Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong.’
Second choice: Embracing life as it is, by Viv Thomas*
A Resilient Life, by Gordon MacDonald
The Wisdom of Proverbs: An Essential Guide, by Bob Beasley