No matter how many principles or pithy quotes we develop, wisdom is useless when ignored. It has to be applied, meaning we have to lean on the wisdom of our examined experience, on the wisdom of wise counselors God has put in our lives, make the best decision we can, and then trust God for outcomes.
Maybe the hardest thing to be wise about is people. Who is capable, trustworthy, competent, compatible with others on the team? Am I being wise in leading my kids into responsible adulthood? Am I giving too much or too little advice to the people I’m mentoring?
Proverbs 24:3 is my favorite when it comes to making wise ‘people decisions’ . . .
By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
Think about the three separate things Scripture is categorizing here: knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
Knowledge is data: simply what we hear, see, touch, taste, and feel. It’s simply the information coming into our brains; unprocessed data.
Understanding is context: taking the data and putting it in context. When we talk about our employees, our kids . . . pretty much anyone we’re engaged with, this means taking our knowledge of what they’ve done, and filtering it through the context of who they are . . . their personalities, their past behavior, the circumstances they were in at the time, the people they were with, etc.
Only by meshing knowledge with understanding can we gain wisdom and make great decisions. Wisdom comes from God and leads us to action . . . to decide what to do.
Knowledge (data) + Understanding (context) = Wisdom (what to do)
Once we’ve got an idea of what we should do, why not run it by wise people we know and trust? Because it’s easy to get deep in the weeds of facts and feelings, we need to have another set of ‘eyes and ears’ on an important decision. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a huge proponent of doing almost everything in community with others, especially decision-making. In Life Together, he explained that “the Christ in [a man’s] own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother: his own heart is uncertain; his brother’s is sure.” That affirmation offers a ton of peace about moving forward in uncharted territory.
Then after we consult with wise people we know, we need God to give us the courage to do the wise thing and not back down or chicken out (Joshua 1:9).
What’s the result if we practice this consistently? The rooms of our house will be filled with “all precious and pleasant riches” . . . also known as great kids! Our workspaces will be filled with “all “precious and pleasant” teammates. And we’ll “reign in life” as loved and respected leaders.
Challenge: Is there a ‘people decision’ looming in your life? Will you take time to consider what you know (knowledge) as well as the context (understanding) of the people involved? Will you seek the Godly counsel of wise, trusted friends before making the final decision? Will you talk it through with your Heavenly Father until you have a “peace that surpasses all understanding?” Imagine the peace and confidence that can come from following this kind of wisdom.
Radical Mentoring’s newest book, Radical Wisdom: A Daily Journey for Leaders, a 365-day collection is available now! Get your copy here.