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.