PurposePursuit

WISDOM

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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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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?

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PurposePursuit

INTEGRITY

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There is a story I read recently about the man Henry Heinz. He started a business selling horse-radish, but in 1875, a national financial collapse drove the young company into bankruptcy. Despite the legal freedom bankruptcy gave him, Heinz regarded each of the company’s outstanding debt as a moral obligation and personally paid back every penny. He later went on to found the H.J. Heinz Company with its 57 varieties and became a leading American businessman. A devout Christian, he was known for the generous treatment of his employees and his generosity to Christian causes and throughout his life, Heinz conducted his business and personal dealings with the same integrity that led him to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars he technically did not owe.

Heinz’ story illustrates how important a man’s integrity is to the kind of impact his life will be known for. Indeed, the quality of the impact of your purpose pursuit will ultimately be defined along the lines of your integrity, competence and charisma. So, I’ll like to share some thoughts on how you can become a person of integrity. The list is not exhaustive. I hope you’ll share your thoughts with me when you finish reading mine.

  1. MEAN WHAT YOU SAY AND SAY WHAT YOU MEAN

One of the fastest ways to demonstrate your integrity or lack of it, is by things you say, the promises you make and the commitment you pledge yourself to. So, to develop a reputation of integrity you may want to adopt the James Solution: To be quick to listen and slow to speak. Think very hard before you make any promises knowing that your integrity is at stake and it is easy to lose. Don’t make any promises you don’t intend to keep and count the cost of every commitment before you use your tongue to break your hand.

  1. LIVE BY PRINCIPLES NOT FEELINGS

People who have committed themselves to the ideals of sexual purity are able to keep up with the integrity of their positions because they are committed to principles and not how they feel. Most sexual purity advocates can tell you about how sometimes their feelings go wild, yet they keep them under because they live by principles not feelings. Same goes for people who are punctual to every meeting. They certainly don’t always feel like getting out of bed, but they realize that time is the currency of life and they live by this principle always. The reason why many people lack a reputation of integrity is because they lack any form of creed by why which they live their lives. If you have not identified your core values and life principles by which your life will be guided, it may be difficult to become a person of integrity.

  1. WALK WITH PEOPLE WHO MODEL INTEGRITY

Integrity like every virtue, can be imparted by the act of modelling. If you walk with the wise, their wisdom will rub off on you. If you walk with people of integrity, their integrity will subconsciously become your aspiration and then your reality. So, identify people in your circle of influence who have demonstrated a record of unflinching commitment to integrity and intentionally commit yourself to stay round them more often. You can easily tell people who have integrity by paying attention to points 1 and 2 above, check if their words mean the world to them and if they walk by principles and not how they feel.

I’ll close with these words of former American President, Dwight D. Eisenhower. They have inspired my commitment to a life of integrity, I hope they do so for you too.

“If a man’s associates find him guilty of phoniness, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. A leader’s first great need, therefore, is integrity and high purpose.”

Blessed? Let me know in the comment section.

Today and always, I call you blessed!

PurposePursuit

ATTITUDE

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Background image by Viviane Berty via flickr.com

There is a story about how the noted English architect, Sir Christopher Wren was supervising the construction of a magnificent cathedral in London. A journalist thought it would be interesting to interview some of the workers, so he chose three and asked them this question, “What are you doing?” The first replied, “I’m cutting stone for 10 shillings a day.” The next answered, “I’m putting in 10 hours a day on this job.” But the third said, “I’m helping Sir Christopher Wren construct one of London’s greatest cathedrals.”

Do you see how attitude can make the most difference in how we assess our experiential realities? The three workers were doing the same thing yet they approached the work differently. The three workers were doing the same thing but because of the difference in their attitude you can expect a difference in their outputs. Attitude may not be the most important determinant of success, it is however, an important factor- important enough to make all the difference.

When I think about how attitude is important in our pursuit of purpose, the story of Paul always comes to mind. The book of Acts chronicles stories of different occasions of persecution and pain to which the Apostle was subjected to. Yet, in all of his letters, Paul communicated a joyful attitude that I believe is worthy of emulation. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul repeatedly instructs his readers to rejoice and be thankful. (Phil. 4:4) This was despite the fact that he himself was in prison when he wrote the letter.  Somehow, the Apostle had learnt to choose joy in every situation. He had learnt to cultivate an attitude that does not depend on any external factor. I love what Viktor Frankl said that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: To choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way.  I am certain the Apostle understood this and every single time, he chose a joyful attitude over despair, love over hate and grace over bitterness.

Of course, having the right attitude is not only about being joyful when things are not very comfortable. It is important to maintain the right attitude irrespective of times and seasons. Apostle James espouses that the right attitude is always a function of the right knowledge. (James 1:2-3) When we have become convinced about who God is and what He has undertaken to achieve through us, an attitude of hope, joy and delight is stirred in us because of the beauty of that knowledge.

I’ll like to close with the story told by Harry Emerson Fosdick about how as a child, his mother sent him to pick a quart of raspberries. Reluctantly he dragged himself to the berry patch. His afternoon was ruined for sure. Then a thought hit him. He would surprise his mother and pick two quarts of raspberries instead of one. Rather than drudgery his work now became a challenge. He began to enjoy picking those raspberries not because the job had changed but because his attitude had. We too can have a tremendous increase in the output of our pursuits of purpose if we cultivate the right attitude by thinking positively, keeping company with people with the right convictions and living our lives based on the changeless truth of God’s Word rather the ever-changing circumstances in our environment.

God is helping us. Amen.

Blessed? Let me hear your thoughts in the Comments Section and don’t forget to share this post with people in your tribe so they can be blessed too.

You matter to me always.