My first advising experience was in 1995. I was a musician, composer and producer who thought little about what leaders did or wanted. In fact, having grown up around a home full of strong-willed leaders, I was absolutely uninterested in leaders or becoming a leader. None the less, I was broadsided in Pittsburgh while speaking at a worship conference with Integrity Music.
During a lunch break I was approached by a national leader of a large nonprofit organization. He asked if I could have lunch and talk with him about some needs they were facing. I stood stunned. You have got to be kidding me. I’m a musician for goodness sake! I decided to go because he offered to pull me away from an ever-growing line of questions and, well, he was paying for lunch.
We met with casual conversation through the meal and then like an uncalculated load he dumped, all over me. His issues in leadership. His staffing problems. His fund-raising concerns. His home life. For twenty minutes he delivered his message. It felt hopeless and angry. My first reaction was to drop something back on him and say, "What are you doing in this job?" But some kind of wisdom grabbed my tongue and fought for control.
Wisdom is a powerful tool. I have seen wisdom calm an escalating turbulence in a moment. Wisdom often brings hope to situations that have been without answers or even a future. Men and women who carry wisdom have ways, or find ways, that answer core issues and resolve disputes. This ability, this wisdom seems to go beyond head knowledge, although it involves our experience and our knowledge.
That day in Pittsburgh, some kind of wisdom grabbed my tongue and fought for control. It was a wisdom that rose from within. From an unknown place and source. It was as if I was drawing on two types of understanding; first from wisdom past that I had previously heard or experienced personally and then a wisdom yet disclosed that I was learning in that very moment.
Wisdom is multidimensional. The best way for me to describe my understanding of wisdom is to suggest that wisdom is, The Already and The Not Yet! The ‘already’ is gained from the past experiences and knowledge that we have lived through. Those moments of great understanding and insight that we have experienced ourselves that we can then apply in those moments of unexpected wisdom. You’ve had those moments of unexpected wisdom I’m sure. When words come pouring out of your mouth that cause you to be astounded and wonder in amazement of where those words came from.
Wisdom carries powerful forces. Wisdom utilizes our minds, our words and our emotions. To watch wisdom in action will heighten more than the knowledge of your mind. It synchronizes your thoughts to your spirit and creates a flow of words that you never would have expected to come forth from your mouth. Possibly a better way to explain it is that it connects your mind and your heart. Not your physical heart but the inner heart – the soul and spirit. Wisdom then joins these two powerful forces together, mind and spirit, and becomes expressed through your language, your words and even at times your body language.
When you see wisdom in action it is not only textbook material. It is not something you can only read about, and then apply. It is more than head knowledge. Wisdom combines the ‘Already’ and the ‘Not Yet!’ Wisdom doesn’t assume on your past experiences and knowledge only. It must consider the moment you are in. The circumstances of the present. Each wisdom moment is unique. It may have similarities where we draw on those past experiences and knowledge, but this moment of wisdom, the one you are presently in, is new. It is set in a different environment, with different people and unique conditions. This is when the ‘Not Yet’ is relevant. This is what makes wisdom – wisdom, and not only experience or head knowledge.
I remember sitting in a public meeting with a wide variety of individuals, with a vast array of interests and concerns all gathered to hear a known pastor Steve Fish from Convergence Church in Fort Worth, Texas. To be honest, I don’t recall the topic at this writing. I do remember that moment when someone stood up, during this leader’s talk and began disagreeing with him. He didn’t attempt to keep talking above this aggressor nor did he attempt to join in the argument. Instead, he invited this provoker to a private sit down after he had finished. It was more than words expressed or an invitation to meet privately afterwards. It was his tone of voice, his open gesture, his kind words that stood out to me as wisdom.
“Maybe,” you say, “He had done this before?” Later I was in a place to ask and although he had experienced people asking questions in the middle of a talk before, he had not been faced with such verbal aggression. He admitted that past knowledge gave him insight not to respond negatively or confrontationally. But he had no experience or insight about inviting this aggressor to a personal sit down. That idea came in the moment. It was truly inspired wisdom and led to bringing hope to the aggressor and it immediately calmed what could have produced public upheaval.
What brings about this ‘Not Yet’ moment? For me this is when a loving heavenly Father provides His heaven-sent wisdom. It is where heaven can touch earth in a practical and beautiful way. Some may call this intellect. Others may suggest it is discernment. This to me is why wisdom is the mixture of the ‘Already’ and the ‘Not Yet!’ The moment you presently find yourself in releasing fresh wisdom assembling your past experience, that which we have seen, heard or personally experienced, with all that is being revealed in this new moment. What’s interesting to me is that once this fresh wisdom is spoken, it now becomes a part of your personal knowledge and experience that will guide you into new revealed wisdom in a next circumstance.
Here’s my end thought: I have learned that wisdom is not in a book you write or read about, but a lifestyle you live. Wisdom saved my day when I controlled my emotions and my tongue with that leader in 1995. I listened with more than my ears. I listened that day with my spirit, soul and mind. I became present in the moment with the concerns of that leader. Wisdom saves our day more often than we may realize. By both watching and listening you will experience wisdom. Learn from wisdom and you will find new wisdom.
I want to encourage you to take a few minutes to consider a wisdom moment in your life. It can be one you have experienced in your own life or a moment you saw wisdom activated as I did with the pastor and the aggressor. Consider that moment. What did you bring from the past that you experienced or learned that was useful in this moment? Then consider what part was fresh revelation from the Father. What was newfound heaven-sent wisdom that you will take forward with you? I like writing these instances down for future reference. Mostly because I tend to forget them and want to be able to recall or read them again. When I read them, it recalls God’s goodness to me and to those individual’s that wisdom was poured out. It also reminds me of how closely the Father is interested in my conversations and how attentively he walks with me in my day to day life. What’s cool to me about doing this is that it brings glory to the Lord and that in itself is a wonderful benefit of wisdom.
May wisdom be a good guide to you, as it has been to me.