I Need Wisdom Not More Information

Guest Post from Lynn Roush, counselor at The Crossing.

Do you know someone who is wise? Not smart, talented, brilliant, funny, successful, well-read or even spiritual. There are plenty of talking heads, experts and scholars that overwhelm us with their words and fill our heads. In an era of instant information, on-demand knowledge, 24-hour news outlets, e-books, tutorials, links, tweets and apps, we are inundated with data. We have access to everything we need without leaving the house, having human contact or even getting up off the couch, so our need for wisdom goes unnoticed.

But where do we turn when we have a question, a problem or a crisis that calls for a response that cannot be retrieved using an Internet search engine? Where do we go for answers when the message we are getting from our favorite celebrity physician, psychologist, nutritionist or self-help guru feels hollow and unable to bring clarity or relief to the confusion and pain we feel?

Wisdom is the application of truth to the practical, personal and particulars of life.   It starts with reverence to God and His order of creation and design for human relationships. Wisdom is gained and acquired over a long period of time, not just magically imputed like downloading software to a computer. The person on a path of wisdom humbly accepts their status as a finite, dependent creature, and seeks divine understanding to navigate the storms of life. In a world of fools, it may be hard to discern who around you may be a person of wisdom. But if you can find a friend, mentor or counselor who is wise, you also will gain wisdom and understanding that is more precious than silver or gold.

 If you were to seek out someone who is wise, what are some characteristics you would notice?

A wise person understands the complexities of life so they are not bound by “black and white thinking.” Instead of seeing issues as rigid and inflexible, they see that much of life consists of varying shades of gray. This allows them to entertain different perspectives and points of view that may not fit into neat categories, and this makes them an approachable person. They can sit with the tension that accompanies the messiness of life and they don’t feel compelled to convince you of anything or try to control you to bring about a desired outcome.

A wise person sees patterns and themes in people and in the seasons of life. This type of “big picture” perspective allows them to look beyond a fleeting moment in time and perceive the deeper context and scope of the current crisis. Wisdom dictates that present circumstances and trials do not exist in a vacuum, but they arise out of a bigger narrative and are connected to broader realms of cultural, historical, sociological, psychological, theological and biblical understanding. They can “see” what is “unseen”, and such insight can bring clarity and hope in what may otherwise feel like a chaotic and hopeless situation.

A wise person is not shocked by your honesty because they have already been honest with themselves, and with God. They have been given an inside look at the disturbing parts of their soul that are unattractive, dirty and broken, so they can be comfortable with your disordered and polluted heart. They are privy to understand the sin and evil they are capable of, and have perhaps committed, so they are slow to judge you for your shortcomings. They aren’t looking to expose your weaknesses to shame you or make themselves feel better. No, your shameful brokenness is safe with one who is wise, for it will not be used against you.

A wise person speaks truth with love, and their words are aptly spoken with the right amount of power. For the hard-hearted or deceived person, a sharp rebuke may be in order, but for one who is groping towards repentance there is kindness, patience and gentle grace. A wise person can be firm but tender to someone who is downcast or caught in the mire of sin. Truth can be conveyed in countless shapes and forms, and the wise person can artfully apply it as the situation warrants.

A wise person does not need you to please them, because they are not depending on you to make them feel good about themselves. You are free to please, or to not please them, but your response does not puff them up or diminish them. They have not built their life upon you, nor are they trusting in you for their hope, joy or salvation. Their wisdom is offered to you as a gift that can be either received or rejected, but they rest comfortably in an identity that is separate from you, your decisions or life’s changing circumstances.

A wise person is slow to anger, does not fully vent his anger, and demonstrates self-control. This doesn’t mean that the wise person may not feel and experience real anger or intense emotions – quite the opposite. They generally have a high emotional IQ and demonstrate a great level of self-awareness, but they have learned that emotions should not be used to manipulate, shame, control or use others for their own personal gain. They have learned to be honest about and process their powerful emotions of anger, sadness, grief, anxiety or fear in ways that do not destroy themselves or harm others.

A wise person is humbled by their mistakes, receives feedback graciously, doesn’t seek their own glory, and sees the trials of life as God’s wise and loving discipline to purge them of all other loves and bring them to greater places of trust and brokenness. They see their weaknesses and imperfections as greater opportunity for growth and increased dependence on Christ yet they do not minimize the difficulty and pain that this type of purification has inflicted. Their wisdom is a crown of jewels that others admire but of which they themselves are unaware, because they have laid it at Jesus’ feet long ago.

From this moment on, it is likely that life is only going to get more difficult. In a world where knowledge is cheaply acquired and quickly squandered, if you can find a person of wisdom, you have found a treasure that has no equal. Nothing on this earth can replace such a friend.

Wisdom seekers should read the book of Proverbs, study the person and ministry of Jesus Christ who was Wisdom incarnate, and be encouraged by James 1:5 “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him….”

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