Tuesday, October 05, 2004

How to Be Wise!!

How to become Wise? – More on the Daily Cycle

This morning my study time was a contemplation of Acts 6:8-10. In the passage, Steven has been doing effective ministry but opposition has risen up against him. It says that men from the synagogues began to argue with him, but “they could not stand up against His wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke”.

I also read Psalm 1 which says, “Blessed is the man …who delights in the law of the Lord and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in due season”.

Wisdom is not just given to us. Wisdom is much more organic than a gift or a present. Wisdom requires lifelong cultivating so that when opposition rises, or temptation or crisis, we are able to respond to the difficulties of life with skill and wisdom.

Wisdom is Like Gymnastics
What does the bible mean by wisdom? The bible when speaking of wisdom is talking about skills. If you are good at basketball, you know the wisdom of basketball. You have a skill. If you are good at public speaking, then you have public speaking wisdom. If you know haw to work hard and make money for your family, then you are financially wise. In many areas, I am wise and in other areas I am not so wise, maybe even a fool. For example, I have studied scripture and theology for many many thousands of hours, therefore when asked to expound upon a bible passage, I am pretty good. That skill I have. But if I am asked to negotiate a contract for a company, I would probably sell the farm so to speak. I am naïve to say the least. In areas of compromise and politics, I am lucky if I can do a somersault while others can do double back flips. Steven in this case had two wisdoms which we see. First, he know the Bible, and he could construct an airtight argument with the religious leaders of the day. Steven had a deep understanding of the scripture. The second thing Steven should was that he spoke not from a spirit of anger and hatred but from a gracious and hopeful and profoundly insightful Spirit. When we speak from the Spirit of God, we have a heart of grace and love for our listeners even when they do not have such grace toward us. Such a Spirit is very hard to contend with and Steven’s adversaries could only defeat him with physical violence.

How Did Steven get this Wisdom?
Many Christians approach the attaining of wisdom like the lottery or like it is magic. Jesus said “the men of the world are wiser with respect to money than the sons of light are with respect to the things of God and the kingdom”. Men of the world invest and look out very long-term for their long-term financial good. Then, when the time comes for sickness and old-age, the men of the world have proven to be wise. But in the kingdom when our hour of need arrives, we often are not so fortunate. The reason for this is we have not sown to learn wisdom. Steven did not just wake up one day and have the Old Testament memorized as we see in chapter 7 of Acts. Steven was a faithful man in the word and it came to his aid when he had to argue and contend for the gospel. Gifts are given but fruit is grown. Wisdom is a fruit.

Evangelism and Discipleship
I have found in my own life that I am very good at speaking to the church. If the audience starts with an understanding of the authority of scripture, I am totally at home. But for the last 12 years or so, I have neglected to maintain my wisdom with respect to bible criticism. I am not wise on these issues. So now the hour has come to interact much more with people who give no authority to the bible and I cry out for wisdom and she is not there. OOPS. I have invested poorly. This is an example of wisdom or lack of wisdom.

So how do we gain wisdom?
To gain wisdom, you must be wise about it. This post is about the wisdom on gaining wisdom. The point is to approach spirituality like you would anything else in life. In areas of our Christian vocation and our spirituality we must be wise like a wise man seeking to have a few million dollars at his retirement.

In my work, we use the scientific method for everything. One example is what is called “six-sigma” It has a method called Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. This is a great method to use for any goal even spiritual ones.
1. Define: Make a prayer list. This process might take a month or a few weeks. Set goals for your self. For example, I need to learn evangelism. What do I need to do? First I need to map out my goals and look at learning this skill like a project plan. I need to start doing it so I can learn by doing. You cannot steer a anchored boat.

2. Measure: Determine how to measure your progress and improvement. Edwards was great at this. He wrote down all his problems. No matter what the goal whether it is character or evangelism or whatever, it can be measured.

3. Analyze. This is the actual prayer time. We believe that wisdom in issues of the soul and of the miraculous (evangelism) comes from God. So we pray with respect to knowing what is going on in our lives.

4. Improve. Propose some solution and then test it. In parenting this is great. Try something new and be objective. Test it for 30 days. The proof is in the pudding.

5. Control. When you find the answer that works, codify it. Write it down. Teach it to others. Memorize the method so that you do it that way every time.

This methodology is the key to life and the key to growth. It is the wisdom of how to be wise.
God Bless,

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