There are different kinds of smart.
- Academic smart.
- Street smart.
- Business smart.
- Relationship smart.
- Math smart.
There are more, and let’s not forget the smart-alec!
What I’ve learned is that being smart doesn’t equate to behaving smart.
In fact, there’s an interesting book titled, Why Smart People Do Dumb Things, by Mortimer Feinberg!
There is a difference between smart (intelligence) and wisdom. Wisdom integrates knowledge, experience, discernment and common sense. Click & Tweet! Wisdom is knowledge in action for God’s purpose.
God is the source of all wisdom, and He invites us to use what He gives us. I love the book of Proverbs and Chapter 2:6-11 is one of my favorites.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. 9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.
As Christian leaders, we are not asked to “manufacture” our own wisdom. God provides all we need. However, we are required to process Godly wisdom in a way that helps us lead people for their good.
To make the most of God’s wisdom, we need to put it to practice. The following three steps will be helpful in that process.
1) The discipline to think.
Thinking is not automatic. I love asking leaders when they think. The standard response is “All the time.” We know that is not true. Candidly, not even close. It is easy to be very busy serving others in a local church and not take the time to think. But to lead, we must carve out dedicated think time. It’s hard work!
Thinking is the intentional process of reasoning, evaluating, considering and coming to a conclusion that you did not have when you began the thought process.
The most common form of thinking for a leader is problem solving. It often starts with a dilemma of some sort, with options, and you aren’t sure what to do. The greater the stakes, the greater the pressure. Fear of making the wrong decision often paralyzes the thought process, and we attempt to delay, dodge, or have someone else deal with it.
The good news is that we never have to think “alone,” God invites us to ask for His wisdom, both directly from Him and through the wise counsel of others. However, a kind caution to you as a leader:
Take time to think. Write your thoughts down. I find my best clarity when I write it out. How about you?
2) The desire to do the right thing.
God’s wisdom calls for moral character. Wisdom is never in a vacuum. The “smart” God gave you is subject to interpretation. That’s what makes leadership so complicated. The “right thing to do” is not always clear. There is nearly always more than one way to handle a situation the “right way.”
We know this to be true with scripture alone. Biblical scholars have maintained strong differences in their interpretation of certain passages and theological bias for hundreds of years. These biblical interpretations make a huge difference in what you think, the decision you make and how you lead. When you add other factors from your culture to your personal experience, the right thing can be difficult to discern.
It comes down to your heart and purity of motives. Each of us must do our best to discern the mind of God, and what He wants in each decision. If your desire is to please Him, and you do your best to align your thinking with His standards, no one can ask more of you.
3) The determination to take action.
You can devote time to thinking and desire to do the right thing, but ultimately you need to possess the courage to act.
I’ve found myself in this situation more than once. I thought it through and certainly wanted to do the right thing, then froze up at the point of action. Or I slowed it down to delay the inevitable.
How about you? Do you have a tough decision to make? Do you have a tension filled confrontation that needs to happen? Perhaps God is asking you to stop a ministry that will ruffle feathers, but it will help focus the church. Whatever it might be, taking action is essential.
God gave you intelligence. He made you smart.
What you do with that gift is up to you. You can leverage it to the greatest capacity by taking the time to think, never wavering from doing the right thing, and taking action.