Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from making bad decisions. – KB
There are two sorts of wisdom, the gift of the Spirit, and experiential. Excepting when you’re serving and God whacks you upside the head to give you insight into a situation, it’s hard to sort the two out, at least in the life of someone who gives full credence to the Word of God.
Wisdom is part of the suite of gifts that I was given as someone who counsels. I asked for it when I was just out of high school, with no idea what that would mean, other than that when Solomon asked for it, it greatly pleased the Lord. I wanted to please God (and I wasn’t opposed to the goodies that Solomon got for being a good bunny). Well, I didn’t know how some of the wisdom was going to show up. Asking for wisdom is about like asking for patience, really. **
You gain experiential wisdom by paying attention to what life throws at you, how it works out, and all the introspective stuff around that. If you’re me, and people tell you their problems on days ending in Y, you also get to gain wisdom from the data they give you. And there’s reading. And listening to good teaching. Even fiction, from time to time. Pretty much any input can increase wisdom, so long as you’re paying attention and integrate it with the whole.
(Integrating with the whole means you have to sit quietly and be patient while things filter and sift sometimes, which means you can’t always instantly analyze a situation or expect yourself to come out with new insights at the speed of social media. You have to use wisdom to develop more wisdom – by giving yourself the space and time to sit on things and wait. Wisdom and patience are intertwined).
Spiritual wisdom comes through reading the Word, learning about God, trusting and obeying Him, and increasing in faith. It also comes from listening to and obeying His Spirit. I’ve never not been able to feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit. (This makes me terrible at apologetics, by the way). Paying attention more and more of the time is a learning situation, but on the big stuff? Always. I’m not saying I’ve always obeyed, but I’ve always known. (It also means I’ve spent a lot of my life arguing with God, as ridiculous as that is).
The gift of wisdom is integrated with that listening – sometimes I’m told to do something or say something that isn’t my idea. Or to shut my mouth/take no action, which is more often the case. Sometimes I get feelings or images or insights. Not all the time, very much on an as-needed basis. But it happens.
And the gift of wisdom is integrated with the gift of faith. It is wise to trust God and have faith in His promises. But it takes patience to wait on His timing. It takes practice to learn to trust. It takes obedience to put any of that into shoe leather. And it never stops. The process of spiritual maturation increases wisdom, giving more opportunity for experience, more opportunity to grow closer to God. The process of physical maturation gives one the strength to hold fast.
Wisdom is, by the by, not the same as knowledge. Whereas one must have a great deal of knowledge to grow in wisdom, those with the gift of knowledge organize their information so as to disseminate it to others. My mental encyclopedia looks like a Chinese medicine cabinet organized by drunken butterflies. *I* can see how it’s all connected, but trying to explain it to someone else? No. Usually they run away screaming before I even get warmed up.
It’s always a little weird to write about your own gifts, but I needed to write this for myself – I organize the drunken butterflies by forcing them to cough up some text. Hopefully it helps someone else, or at least gives you some information for your own Chinese medicine cabinet.
*KB is one of the coaches at my gym.
**All of y’all who have been around the church for a lifetime know about “never ask for patience!”. I did, actually, under the counsel of one of the ladies at my church, with some trepidation. I don’t know that I’ve gotten it, but I have more than I started with. That’s not saying much.
***Credit to Pastor Dan Leitz for putting together a set of sermons on the gifts of the Spirit, which started me chewing on the difference between wisdom and knowledge. If you’d like to listen to that set of sermons, it’s here: