Wisdom. What comes to mind? Or rather who comes to mind? Solomon! Reputed to be the wisest man in the BC era. Everyone prays that they or their offspring become as wise as Solomon – though I’m not sure the prayer includes 700 wives and 300 concubines. What however is interesting is that the wisest man of the bible times did make foolish decisions when it came to family affairs. For one, he married way more than was required of a Jewish king, which eventually led him away from God. Also, the fact that his children (or more accurately, child) couldn’t continue the kingdom reflected a flaw in Solomon’s child rearing philosophy.
I once heard a pastor say that the kind of wisdom Solomon requested from God was Administrative Wisdom – the kind of wisdom required to govern well. And if you read the bible passage, you will discover that that was exactly what he asked for… and exactly what God gave.
Too often, we see wisdom as an all-encompassing phenomenon or a substance that is supposed to make us operate in cloud nine – cruising past the mere mortals. Once in possession of this elixir, we’re supposed to make all the right decisions, pass exams and speak eloquently at the flick of a switch. Who needs experience when you have wisdom right?
Speaking of exams, who remembers the popular exam prayer: God give me wisdom, knowledge and understanding. I’m sure many of us still pray this prayer either for ourselves or our loved ones (or kids) when facing exams. What I’m not sure of however is whether we actually understand the meaning of the words we utter. For example, what is the role of wisdom in the exam? Is it meant to make the candidate remember what he didn’t read or make him understand the questions clearly? Is it meant to guide his reading or make him understand what he is reading? Is it supposed to make the teacher ‘favour’ him with high scores?
The point is this, many of us do not actually have an idea of what wisdom is. Yet we ask God for it. How are we supposed to know when it arrives when we don’t even have an idea of what it is or what it means. The first thing we need to realize is that wisdom is in the doing not in the having. You don’t stock up wisdom like petrol during fuel scarcity to be released on a periodic basis. Nobody knows you are wise until you act, speak or solve a problem; there’s no certificate to tender at the reception of a national confab to inform the participants that you are laden with raw wisdom. Neither is wisdom written on the forehead.
So what’s the point? Well, there isn’t just one point. There are three.
- If wisdom is expressed in action, it goes that wisdom should be requested per action that needs it.
- It also means that wisdom is specific – to the task at hand. The wisdom to solve a marital challenge isn’t the same wisdom that is required to mediate political disputes. Therefore the request for wisdom must be specific to the occasion. A generic request for wisdom isn’t enough.
- The misunderstood concept of wisdom might explain why people who are ‘spiritually sound’ might sometimes flounder in other areas. If you’re going to be excellent in all areas of your life, then you must be wise in all areas of life. Which means you must acquire the wisdom for each domain. That you are academically intelligent doesn’t necessarily mean you can run a business (ask doctors) neither does it mean that you can successfully woo a woman. Each of these are separate domains requiring different kinds and levels of wisdom.
‘Spiritually Sound’ people are particularly lacking in the last point. There is a tendency to think that being wise in the things of the spirit automatically relieves them of the burden to acquire wisdom for other domains of life. After all the spiritual controls the physical. Right? If that were the case, Moses would never have needed the advice of father-in-law Jethro on what we now know today as Delegation. (In my opinion, true spiritual wisdom (or understanding) should actually guide its bearer to the need for acquisition and development of wisdom in other domains, which was why I put spiritually sound in inverted commas.)
Having said all these, I do hope that when next you’re asking God for wisdom, you will do so with understanding (pun intended).
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Ifeoluwapo is a Medical Doctor, Brand Strategist and the Author of Musings of an Analytical Mind. He loves to challenge conventional thinking and is a firm believer in the coexistence of aesthetics and quality. You can follow him on Twitter – @hypoxia13
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