The story of King Solomon and his historic request for wisdom, knowledge and understanding instead of wealth, power and influence is perhaps one of the most discussed stories in scriptures. I believe more than anything else, that the story illustrates the importance of wisdom in leadership and the priority it must take if effective leadership can be experienced.
There is another story in the New Testament that I believe also illustrates in practical terms the importance of wisdom in leadership and in life generally. Scriptures tell us about one conflict that the early church had to deal with and which threatened the spread of gospel save for the timely intervention of the church leaders. The Gospel had been taken to non-Jews and the issue arose whether the new receivers of the Gospel needed to be conformed to the traditions of the Jews and the impossible demands of the Mosaic Law which the Jewish Christians still felt bound to follow. For instance, would the non-Jewish believers be required to submit themselves for circumcision? Would they need to obey laws about Sabbath, the Passover etc.?
Resolving this issue would require more than conventional wisdom. Only the wisdom of God and the working of the Holy Spirit could bring the body of Christ to agree on what the way forward should be. Thankfully, there was one man, Apostle James, who was gifted with the wisdom of God and as the leader of the Church in Jerusalem, his wisdom brought the church to safety. (See Acts 15:12-21)
So, when James wrote in his epistle about how to be wise, he knew what he was saying. He was the Solomon of the early church. And by virtue of his wisdom, he was the leader who could break the silence and proffer solutions to critical issues that threatened the unity of the church.
Let’s take a quick look at James recommendations for us all who desire to have his kind of wisdom. There are two things James asks us to do if we want to be wise.
- LIVE WELL: James says it’s the way you live not the way you talk that counts. Wisdom is first a matter of behaviour before it is a matter of words. People who will be wise must pay attention to the patterns in their behaviour. We must shun any attempt to twist the truth to sound wise. James says that’s not wisdom – it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced.
- LIVE HUMBLY: Another point James makes is that boasting that you are wise does not make you wise. Trying to look better than others or get the better of others is the very definition of foolishness for those who compare themselves with others are not wise. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom either. To build a reputation of wisdom, you have to live humbly. Such humility is a product of an encounter with God’s grace.
On the whole, we must always remember that true wisdom comes from God alone and as we interact with God’s Word, God’s wisdom rubs on us. As we live Kingdom Life, we demonstrate Kingdom Wisdom for the benefit of our own lives and those around us.
Blessed? Let me hear your thoughts in the comment section. What does wisdom mean to you?