I believe wisdom starts with ambition. A hungry person wants to learn, wants to become wise. Whether to help themselves or to help others, the wise people I know started seeking wisdom when they were young. They curate principles, constantly adding new ones to their ‘wisdom bank’ and forgetting ones that didn’t pan out.
Wisdom is distilled retrospectively. Think about it . . . we live through a situation, screw it up, and make a bad decision. To grow in wisdom, we then have to look back to see what we did wrong or what we could have done better, and lock that learning into our minds.
Here’s a painful personal example . . . when I was young and really stupid, I wanted a certain kind of used car. I found one for sale three hours away in ‘a city by the sea.’ I packed up my wife and two small kids and drove to the beach to check out the car. My dad’s wisdom: “Never buy a used car in a beach town.” Well, I completely ignored that. Since we’d driven so far and needed to get on home, I bought the car . . . and sold it within weeks for a big loss.
What happened here? I let the circumstances, my greed for the car, and my haste to get a great deal lead me to overlook all kind of things on the car. From this horrible story, I learned a valuable lesson and then created a principle . . .
“Never make a big decision the same day it’s put in front of you.”
Had I slept on it, prayed about it, and looked at the car a second time, I’d probably have walked away.
Since then, this wisdom principle about waiting overnight has served me well. Whenever I hear, “You have to sign this today, it’s the last day of the sale,” or “Someone else called about this and is on their way to see it,” I answer, “If it’s not a good deal tomorrow, it’s not a good deal today. I don’t make a decision this size the same day it’s offered. Sorry!” Funny, but I didn’t even want some of those things the next day. But when I did, the deal has always been there!
Here’s where God comes in. I think this is how He gives us wisdom.
After a story in your life has played out, examine what you did and why. Ask yourself, “What did I learn from this that’ll help me next time?” Then ask God, “Father, what are you teaching me here?” Listen carefully. The next sentence that comes into your head may very well be His wisdom for you! Write it down. Think it through. Check it out with a wise friend. Check it against the teachings of Jesus.
If it passes those tests, memorize it, and live by it.
Scripture: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)
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