I have heard a lot of talk—some from my own lips—about wisdom in the past few weeks. I encourage my kids to make wise choices. I look for wisdom as a wife, a mom, a friend. I look at the world around me and see so much foolishness (ahem, upcoming presidential election). It has me wondering where on earth wisdom is found and how we can all get just a little more.
As I have pondered this sometimes elusive concept, I have come to understand a little more what exactly wisdom is—and what it isn’t.
Wisdom is not the same as knowledge.
Many people have knowledge, yet remain unwise. Others may have little formal education but overflow with wisdom. Wisdom is not about having a certain GPA or an ivy league degree. It is less about what you know and more about what you do about it. Wisdom demands that you take action (or choose not to take action, I suppose, depending on the situation). You apply what you know. Let me put it this way: Knowledge is recognizing a fire. Wisdom is choosing not to stick your hand in the flames.
Wisdom comes with time.
As a parent, I think I too often forget this. I expect wisdom from my children that they can’t possibly have yet. Whether it is understanding why they should clean up after themselves (They will learn that eventually, right?) or knowing the best way to navigate conflict in a friendship, they are not born with the tools and skills to handle these things. It is my job to help to guide them as they learn and grow and gain their own wisdom. Which leads me to my next point…
Wisdom is often gained the hard way.
As much as we would like to just impart wisdom onto our children so that they don’t have to repeat our mistakes, it rarely works that way. Wisdom is something that we gain from time and experience… and often, the most impactful experiences are the ones where we screw up.
When I was in middle and high school, I was involved in Bible quizzing, a competition that centered on memorizing books of the Bible and answering questions in meets. I can’t tell you much about questions that I answered right over the years, but I remember in detail a question that I missed at a very key moment for my team. I know where I was, what I was wearing, how I crouched on the stage to think, and how very close I was to the right answer. While we don’t want our kids to struggle or fail or hurt, we know those experiences will stick with them far more than any words we utter.
Wisdom takes intentionality.
Experience may be the best teacher, but only from a willing student. Right now we have two kids who struggle to remember their school assignments each night, and today one of them went to school thinking that a lunch detention might be in his/her future. (For the sake of privacy, I’d rather not reveal the “offender.” 😉 ) I am hopeful that the consequence will serve as a catalyst to get this kiddo thinking a little more carefully about what needs to come home each night… but there’s no guarantee. It is only when we apply our past experiences to our present reality that we find wisdom.
Wisdom is a lifelong pursuit.
Wisdom isn’t an endgame. We don’t gain it and then call it quits. We must continually seek it and practice it and seek it some more. We look for it in the company we keep, in the books we read, and as we evaluate our own decisions and experiences. If we have stopped seeking wisdom, I think we have stopped truly living.
This post is part of the #FridayFive linkup through my dear friend Kelly at mrsdisciple.com.