Sipping chai on a beautiful Fall eve night. Instead of rushing to high school football games, I chose to spend some time alone reading and studying. I find myself doing a lot of evaluating and analyzing in moments like this which can be highly beneficial. I begin to think of two of the greatest privileges of my life.
Being mentored by one of the wisest men I know
I genuinely believe that God really does order our steps, particularly because He provided me with the person I needed. One of the greatest things he has passed on to me is the pursuit of wisdom. I swear my pastor has memorized all 31 chapters of Proverbs. It’s obvious by the way he lives his life, the opportunities he’s received, and the challenges that God’s trusted him with wisdom.
As I’ve said in a previous blog, within the first 24 hours after I met him, he taught me one of the greatest lessons of my life: keep yourself open and broken, and teachable and correctable. This has become the backbone of my decision-making and disciple-making. A great deal of who I am as a minister and simply as a child of God I owe to him. He was so patient and understanding during my know-it-all seasons. He knew when to humor me and when to smack me back in line. But now I appreciate the times when we face the challenge of figuring things out together. While we may not always agree, putting these principles into practice eventually helps us understand the complexities of changing times.
Being in a position to help develop and provoke younger minds
It’s strange when the process reverses and now I’m on the Obi Wan side of things. Once the headstrong and stubborn padawan, all of the sudden facing off with Anakin, the younger, harder-headed version of myself. I’m hardly the skilled and able statesman that my pastor is but I’ve developed my own style. With that comes the successes and tragedies of any ministry.
My fear is the growing disconnect with up and coming generations. Doing this study on 1 and 2 Kings has shown us that these are problems which have been with us since the beginning. But with all the 21st Century perks and resources, we are running out of excuses to not carry out our “lives in a manner worthy of our calling” (Ephesians 4:1). I’m begging our younger generations to open their ears to battle tested wisdom, and reminding our seasoned veterans to continue practicing what got them to where they’re at.
- Bold statements become famous last words. Nod. Say “Amen.” “I’ll never end up like them.” “I’ll do whatever you tell me to do.” “I want you to speak into m life.” Wave a hanky. It’s easy to pledge commitment while in the classroom. Then real life happens along. All of the sudden, our wise Jedi Masters become overprotective Victorian bodyguards. Now it’s up to us to figure out what to do, despite the fact that we’ve already been given the tools. In other words, godly wisdom is thrown out the door in place of adolescent judiciousness and video game prudence. “Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!” (Proverbs 3:7)
- Spirituality can be wisdom’s greatest enemy. Few things get me excited like watching teens and young adults follow Christ and begin to grow spiritually. The zeal, fervency, passion, the unbridled and unfettered faith! Yes! The first time we respond to a God prompt…and we’re actually right. Whoa. Amazing!Sometimes, these amazing God moments become merit badges and trophies. That’s when our heads and egos double in size compared to our humility and sensibility. Shirking off advice is justified with “God told me.” Oooo, the block. I would love to respond, “Wait a minute, young padawan. Is it possible that God is speaking through me? You know, your once astute sage?” “Take good counsel and accept correction – that’s the way to live wisely and well” (Proverbs 19:20).
- Wisdom is useless unless it leads to wise choices. One of the greatest dangers in our American church is regurgitated faith. Pastors, parents, mentors pass on what they’ve learned to future generations. But if it’s a faith that’s never owned, it will fall apart. We can’t live off other people’s victories and relationships with Christ.If not properly utilized, what we’ve received becomes cheap fortune cookie wisdom. We stay as shallow as we were at the moment we knelt before God. Are we willing to pursue the deeper things of God? To get beyond the 10 pat phrases? As previously stated, my mentor has taught me for decades now, “Wisdom is knowing what to do next.” But as we’ve learned from the kings of Israel…who had the prophets and priests to guide them…and knew what to do…still did what they wanted. “Fools are headstrong and do what they like; wise people take advice” (Proverbs 12:15). I’ve altered my pastor’s words with his approval: “Wisdom is knowing what to do next, and then doing it.”