Wisdom and Knowledge

What can I say about wisdom and knowledge when I can’t read a calendar! This post was supposed to go out today but was first published last Thursday June 22nd. For those that count on something on a Monday and didn’t read it last week – I reposted it.

“He doesn’t have enough common sense to change a nickel!” was a phrase I heard often from my first Captain. He would use that to describe just about anyone who couldn’t quite “get it”. I don’t know if he ever used it to describe me but I’m sure, at times, I lacked “a little change” myself. Merriam Webster’s defines wisdom as “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.” The challenge we have in our roles as spouses, siblings, parents and leaders is that we don’t or can’t teach wisdom. In education, we refer to “teaching wisdom” as teaching critical thinking. It is difficult to teach someone how to “think”. We usually associate wisdom with experience and maturity. Critical thinking is skillful and responsible thinking in which you study the problem from all angles, and then exercise your best judgment to draw conclusions.

Teaching critical thinking consists of three basic concepts: 1) Reflecting on the issue or question; to stop and think, avoiding snap judgments, accepting the first idea that comes to mind or automatically accepting whatever is presented. 2) Gently asking questions such as “How do you know”, “What are the reasons?” and “Is that a good source of information?” which establishes the reasons for a point of view or seeks the reasons for others’ views. 3) Being aware of alternative possibilities, conclusions, explanations, sources of evidence, or points of view. Merriam Webster’s defines understanding as “the power of abstract thought; the capacity to apprehend general relations of particulars”. We must have wisdom before we have understanding. As leaders, we tend to deal with teaching people what to do (knowledge) and ask if they understand it. We should be focusing on their depth of understanding through critical thinking.

“And he said to man, ‘The fear of the LORD—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.’ ” Job 28:28

A lot can be said of Job. When I hear his name, I immediately think – strength. He certainly stayed faithful to God and despite what happened to him, he knew that God was with him. If anyone can tell us about what God meant, I believe Job to be an excellent candidate. Having the fear of the Lord is something that is wise for an individual to do. It certainly stands today; we should all have fear of the Lord our God.

We shouldn’t fear God because of the “bad” that will happen but because He is our Father and we should live to His glory. Besides, not living to honor God will surely keep you from eternal life. God sent us His Son to take away all of our sins – a reconciliation with the Law if you will, that does not give us a “free pass” but gives us eternal life by our faith in Him. It is wise to fear God. Job also tells us that if we shun evil (follow in the way of the Lord) that we truly understand what God was trying to say all along. He is the way, the truth and the life. Fear the Lord and shun evil, can it be that simple?

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Wisdom, what wisdom?

I’ve been searching for an answer to the question – “Where did all the wisdom go?” I can’t seem to find it anywhere and I’m afraid that it’s left our planet! Synonyms for wisdom include: understanding, insight, astuteness and prudence. Our country and our states used to be lead by people who seemed to have a great deal of wisdom. As an elected local government leader, I can see wisdom at work first hand. Local government is closest to the people and it deals with the problems and needs that people experience daily. Few people in our city are affected by decisions of the U.S. Dept. of Education but change the boundaries of where kids will go to school and you will see people cram into meeting rooms.

So back to wisdom, what happened? Our elected leaders seem to have forgotten who and what they are supposed to do. Look carefully at what they say or what they don’t and you will see decisions based more on ideology and party than on doing what is best for the people. Few are looking down the road at what the unintended consequences might be of making a decision. Even the average person has started to lose their wisdom. We hang on to the few sound bites we hear and believe them to be fact. Fake news is springing up all around us because we want to believe everything that we read. I’d suggest that wisdom has been lost by our desire for instant information no matter the source. In the old days, something became news when it corroborated by a second source. I guess the point of my first ever “rant” is that we all need to be protecting our own wisdom by expanding our sources and looking at the bigger picture.

“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; 4 through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” Proverbs 24:3-4

What a great way to describe our journey with God. We start to build our relationship with God by having the wisdom to answer His call and establishing the structure to hear His word. We move into the next phase of our relationship by taking God’s word and applying it to our lives. We attend church services, listen to the bible verses being read and say the prayers and creeds to profess our faith. We begin to understand what He wants us to do; we follow His teachings and go about our daily lives.

We think this obedience is what God wants us to do and it is here at the intersection of obedience and understanding where most people coast though their journey. At this point the house is built and the relationship is been established, but God is telling us that something is still missing. Imagine your house – a structure (wisdom), it’s occupied (understanding) but without love (knowledge) its not really ever filled. Seek to fill your relationship with God with the knowledge of His word through regular devotional reading, bible study and the active application of that knowledge in your life. Fill your life with His rare and beautiful treasures.

Riches

What does being rich mean to you? For some, it means having money to anything and everything that they wish. To others, it means having enough to be satisfied or content. And to yet others, it means having a life of blessings and little worry despite having little money. Many people focus on making money because the old adage says “money can’t buy everything but it sure makes everything better”. When we focus on getting rich or making money we often forget the other things of importance in our lives. People who focus on their careers so much in order to provide “financial stability” often miss out on the important things. Have you heard people say “I’m working so hard to provide a future for my family”?

These people rarely have time for the present day family that they are working so hard for. I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m glad my parents weren’t around when I was a kid so I could have this great inheritance check now that they’re dead”. Everything in our lives is about balance. The right amount of money, the right amount of time and the right attitude generally always pay off. The right amount of exercise and the right amount of rest keep us healthy in the long run. What do riches really do for us? Sure, not having to worry about paying bills would be great but what kind of life do they have working or worrying about work constantly. Monetarily “rich people” often don’t seem happy. Watch a young family with few “riches” and you will see hugs, laughter, smiles and they will find fun in the little things. You don’t need money to be rich; you need the right perspective on life and a little faith in your future.

4Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. 5Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone…” Proverbs 23:4-5

These are the words of wisdom that turn our attention to the most important thing in our lives – God. He warns us often throughout the bible not to be misled by the things of this world. St. Paul writes in his letters about how this world will lead us toward destruction. Jesus taught us to focus on the words and promises of God and showed us how the men of this world were leading us astray.

If we focus on riches only, they can be gone in a glance; leaving us with nothing. If we focus on God and His word, we are never alone and always content. The same Proverb in verse 12 tells us,” Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” Jesus often said to keep focused on God and place our faith in Him alone. God is on our side and He will provide us with what we need and will never give us more than we can bear. His plan is in motion for our lives, we need to have the wisdom to allow it to unfold and keep our attention where it belongs, on God.

Leadership

This is my first weekend home from the exercise in Indiana with the Army. By all accounts, it was a successful training exercise for the soldiers who were able to practice their technical skills and for the Command and Control Headquarters elements to work out their processes. My role was to function right in the gap between fantasy and reality or as we refer to it, between the White cell and the BlueFor. The white cell is where the exercise is controlled. This is where the documents are created, the themes are established, and where plans are created based on player actions (BlueFor). My role is particularly unique as I interface with the BlueFor, gather information from the actual units in the field and report it up into the White cell for confirmation or what is referred to as the “ground truth”.

I’ve got to pay attention to everything that is going on so our team can provide the right information to the BlueFor to drive the exercise in a particular direction. The White Cell that I worked in is under the direction of a retired One Star General who runs in tight formation. During a briefing to the active duty Two-Star General, he provided information that was contradicted by a different white cell whereby making it appear that we were in the wrong. At our shift change, he lit us up like a Christmas tree about how we were not providing the BlueFor the correct direction in the field. It has been a long while since I’ve been in that type of situation. At the conclusion of the shift change, we provided his staff with the “proof” that we had been following the “script” all along and that the other White cell was wrong in their assessment. At the next shift change, he displayed something that is very rare among leaders; he apologized for calling us out. I was shocked to see genuine leadership by someone who I imagine is rarely mistaken. He could have swept it under the rug or simply chalked it up to the rage of war but he didn’t. He stood tall and admitted his error.

“Here is a trustworthy saying: whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.” 1 Timothy 3:1

It takes a lot of courage to step into a leadership role. The whole debate about “are leaders born or are they created” fails to recognize the courage component. If someone steps into a leadership position without a little fear, they are stepping on thin ice. I’ve said before that leading is a privilege and an honor that we should not take lightly. People are putting their faith in that person and in some professions, their lives. Leading is more than telling others what to do or having a rank/title. Leaders are accepting the faith that others are placing in them. It is a noble task. Timothy is describing those who wish to lead the church and is reminding them that it isn’t about the power and prestige that comes with it but the honor and responsibility that does. Jesus knew His role as the leader of the disciples. He knew what God was asking of Him and gladly accepted His fate. He charged us all to be “fishers of men” by teaching us how to live better lives, be examples for others to follow but most importantly, to rely on God for the wisdom and strength to carry out our daily lives. Leadership is a noble task and it is not to be taken lightly. People are putting faith in you. Rely on God for your wisdom and strength and you will always have their faith.

Wisdom and Understanding

“He doesn’t have enough common sense to change a nickel!” It was a phrase I heard often from my first Captain. He would use it to describe just about anyone who couldn’t quite “get it”. I don’t know if he ever used it to describe me but I’m sure, at times, I lacked “a little change” myself. Merriam Webster’s defines wisdom as “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.” The challenge we have in our roles as spouses, siblings, parents and leaders is that we don’t or can’t teach wisdom. In education, we refer to “teaching wisdom” as teaching critical thinking. It is difficult to teach someone how to “think”. We usually associate wisdom with experience and maturity. Critical thinking is skillful and responsible thinking in which you study the problem from all angles, and then exercise your best judgment to draw conclusions. Teaching critical thinking consists of three basic concepts: 1) Reflecting on the issue or question; to stop and think, avoiding snap judgments, accepting the first idea that comes to mind or automatically accepting whatever is presented. 2) Gently asking questions such as “How do you know”, “What are the reasons?” and “Is that a good source of information?” which establishes the reasons for a point of view or seeks the reasons for others’ views. 3) Being aware of alternative possibilities, conclusions, explanations, sources of evidence, or points of view. Merriam Webster’s defines understanding as “the power of abstract thought; the capacity to apprehend general relations of particulars”. We must have wisdom before we have understanding. As leaders, we tend to deal with teaching people what to do (knowledge) and ask if they understand it. We should be focusing on their depth of understanding through critical thinking.

“And he said to man, ‘The fear of the LORD—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.’ ” Job 28:28

A lot can be said of Job. When I hear his name, I immediately think – strength. He certainly stayed faithful to God and despite what happened to him, he knew that God was with him. If anyone can tell us about what God meant, I believe Job to be an excellent candidate. Having fear of the Lord is something that is wise for an individual to do. It certainly stands today; we should all have fear of the Lord our God. Not because of the “bad” that will happen to us but because He is our Father and we should live to His glory. Besides, not living to honor God will surely keep you from eternal life. God sent us His Son to take away all of our sins – a reconciliation with the Law if you will that does not give us a “free pass” but gives us eternal life by our faith in Him. It is wise to fear God. Job also tells us that if we shun evil (follow in the way of the Lord) we are demonstrating that we truly understand what God was trying to say all along. He is the way, the truth and the life. This message applied during Job’s time here on earth and now, in our time is fear the Lord and shun evil.  Can it be that simple?