When you hear the word “wisdom,” who or what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of ivy-covered halls of higher learning or the sage advice of an elder.
By definition, wisdom means insight, good sense, common sense, levelheadedness, an accumulation of knowledge, the ability to discern.
For some, gaining knowledge is the only component of wisdom, yet many who have degrees and academic accolades lack common sense.
So how do you cultivate wisdom?
Learn from Experience
Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. Much of his wisdom resulted from experiences and observation. The book of Proverbs records Solomon’s wisdom on various topics and is intended to aid others.
Wisdom results from the honest assessment of choices and outcomes, making different decisions the next time, admitting mistakes without allowing them to sideline you, and maintaining forward motion despite obstacles.
Most of us don’t like limits. We want to do what we want, when we want to. But those who are wise acknowledge and accept boundaries. They realize boundaries do not limit freedom, but provide protection and direction. The wise embrace boundaries, heed warnings, and practice self-discipline.
The world tells us people are innately good, but evil exists not matter how glossily you paint humanity. Learning to assess motivations, discern truth from falsehood, and good from evil is an integral part of discernment. And you’re not being judgmental when the still, small, internal voice instructs you to be wary. Pay attention. Trusting the Spirit within, instead of yourself, leads to the ability to discern.
Employ Practical Application
Have you ever met someone who knew how something worked, but couldn’t explain the process in terms that allowed you to implement the knowledge in everyday life? True wisdom results from experience, discernment, discipline, and the ability to apply knowledge gained. Wisdom is worthless without practical application.
Acknowledge the True Source of Wisdom
People seek wisdom in many places and in many ways. A current cultural phrase that causes me to cringe is “you’ve got this.” If you’re depending only on yourself for wisdom, success, strength, or anything else, you’re ill-equipped.
Solomon directed us to the real source of wisdom:
“The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; But arrogant fools despise [skillful and godly] wisdom and instruction and self-discipline.” Proverbs 1:7 AMP
Cultivating wisdom takes time, focus, and perception, but it is worth every effort because it provides safety, direction, and provision.
“Sell everything and buy Wisdom! Forage for Understanding! Don’t forget one word! Don’t deviate an inch! Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your life; love her—she keeps an eye on you. Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom! Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding!” Proverbs 4:5-7 MSG