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Who Do You Run With?
By Wayde I. Goodall
“Walk with the wise and become wise” (Proverbs 13:20)
No one likes to make wrong decisions, or to give the impression of being unwise. Most leaders want to be “on their game” throughout their day … especially when making major decisions about people, programs, and budgets. Likely, many times during the week the issues of timing, effectiveness, and efficiency (getting the job done) cross our minds.
Webster’s defines wisdom as “knowledge of the best ends and the best means, and the capacity to make due use of it; discernment; judgment; discretion; sagacity; skill; dexterity.”
Just some thoughts about being wise in our success …
Knowledge is the accumulation of facts combined with intelligence. Wisdom is the right application of knowledge and reason in moral, spiritual, occupational, and relational matters … and in handling dilemmas and negotiating complex relationships and conflicting opinions.
Knowing the facts, the history of an organization, and the people involved is critical when making wise decisions. Wisdom gives a leader balance and helps him/her clear up complicated issues, and avoid eccentricity, extravagance, and ego driven motives.
Wisdom is heavenly discernment. It is insight into the heart of things, and involves knowing God and the motivations and subtleties of the human heart.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time.”
Although it is a good goal to anticipate how to make wise decisions, most of us are too often wise after the event.
We often hear that “hindsight is 20/20” because it becomes clear what we could or should have done to prevent something regretful from happening.
The Bible points to the idea of having right judgment concerning spiritual and moral truth: “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives” (Colossians1:9).
The Old Testament, commonly used the word Hochmah for wisdom. Hebrew scholar, Dr. Bob Stallman, says that Hochmah’s meaning is quite diverse — “to have skill, intelligence, and sensibility; to be endued with reason.” This word includes the ability to live skillfully in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. The teaching of Proverbs and the Old Testament in general is that God enables His people to develop wisdom as they remain committed to God and the truth He has revealed (see Psalm 19:9).
Proverbs 1:2,3,5 reads: “for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight, for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; … let the wise listen and add to their learning.”
Acts 6 tells us that those in the Early Church were concerned about choosing leaders who were “known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom” (6:3). If knowledge comes by study, wisdom is greatly enhanced by being filled with the Holy Spirit.
How can you feel good about the decisions you will make today?
Are you feeling good about yourself? How are you sensing the challenges of the day will go? Are you able to say that you haven’t compromised your integrity when making decisions?
Norman Vincent Peale said, “When you wake up in the morning, you have two choices in life. You can feel good about yourself or you can feel lousy. Why would you choose the latter one?”
Should you think more before you act and/or be a little more cautious? I find myself hitting the pause response (in my activities and decisions) more and more as I think through situations. Pausing can help us listen to our inner voice and very possibly Christ who lives within us. Holding your cards close to your chest is not only prudent, it will give you a good sense of timing.
In my (and many other’s) opinion, Nehemiah was one of the most successful leaders in the Bible. Though he seemed to be bold and courageous in his work, there is a caution, a pause in his process of handling day-to-day details. When he made the decision and developed the plan to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem he followed some wise, strategic planning details:
- He appraised the situation for 3 days (2:11) before he jumped into the assignment.
- When he began his work, he did not spread the word about what he was doing. There were no press releases or broadcasts of his intentions. He decided to keep his specific goals “close to his chest.” (2:12)
- He observed an ancient strategy of winning a war; that is, don’t give the enemy any information and keep most of your goals secret.
- Nehemiah even did reconnaissance (spying) under cover during the night. (2:13–16)
- Although he knew his enemies were threatening him (and he prepared for their attempts to stop him), he did not let them distract him from what he was doing. (4:7–15)
Walking with the wise and living in the Word of God will rub off on us. Wisdom and faith can be imparted — caught. Faith will build more faith. Success in our God-given goals often causes others to do what we have done (believe God).
Pessimism dismantles faith. One of the spiritual leader’s primary goals is to build the faith of others. Nehemiah didn’t have time to hang out with people who didn’t believe it could be done.
Wisdom is contagious, courage is contagious, so is fear, anger, and doubt.
Who are you running with? What people are influencing your life?
Remember: “You are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Always know that I am …
Your Friend and Servant in Christ,
Wayde Goodall, D.Min
Dean, College of Ministry