Growing up I confused wisdom and knowledge. My grades were always at the top of the class. I loved the attention teachers and pastors gave me when I had the right answer. I knew everything and I knew I was RIGHT. But I was clueless in how this attention caused classmates to resent me. I was not wise in how to keep friendships thriving.
In the Niebuhr’s Serenity prayer a key petition is to have the wisdom to know what can and what cannot be changed. This is particularly true in human relationships. I might desire my spouse, child or co-worker to change in some way, but I cannot make them change. What I can change is how I interact with them. I can choose to have the serenity to listen carefully to what the other is expressing. I can have the courage to “speak my mind” or “to hold my tongue” depending on the context. I will need wisdom in each situation in what I say or how I act.
I confess that at times I am unwise in my desire to be right. I think I have the right perspective and the other person must be wrong. And if I simply repeat myself enough time with varying intensity of voice, the other person will finally hear my perspective and agree. I KNOW I am right, but I am not WISE in how I interact. Really, at time I can be clueless.
Jesus had the wisdom to know the difference. He had the courage to confront the self-righteous Pharisees, but the tender compassion to heal a man on the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6).
Slowly I am learning to let go of my need to be right. I think the stronger, wiser course is to learn how to love the other, to listen and to be present to the other. Wisdom grows one day at a time.
What kind of wisdom do you seek?
Lord Jesus, give me the wisdom to know how to act in love.
Hi Pastor, One of my best traits throughout my career was being a good listener. Even had the reputation in our community that I was a good Doc to go to because “he will listen. Outside the office was another thing. I was always there with an opinion, or advise. Fortunately I was married to Su, and was reminded more than once to “Ivar, keep your voice in your head”…. The wisdom to know the difference 😄 Ivar
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So, true, Ivar. I really like that piece of wisdom, “keep your voice in your head.” Thanks
And sometimes the best request is to ask for “wisdom to hear myself as others hear me.”