The only way to get wisdom is through … seeking wisdom.
By Jarrett Stevens
Your life is filled with daily decisions. Some are big; some are small. Some are strictly personal, only affecting you or your immediate family. Others set off a domino effect, reaching into the lives of those you lead, their families, those you serve, so on and so forth.
Your decisions—especially the big and difficult ones—will one day tell the story of your life. Who you marry, where you live, which career you pursue, what you do with your resources, how you respond to life’s challenges … all of it matters—not only for today but also for tomorrow. And not only for you but for others as well.
Your decisions matter to God. No matter how big or small, they matter. They matter to God because you matter to God. And in his loving-kindness and overflowing wisdom, God offers you a way to pray through life’s biggest decisions; to partner with him through prayer as you discern and decide.
There are many stories, verses and passages in the Bible that speak to our need for godly direction and God’s willingness to offer it. But perhaps one of the most practical and prescriptive passages when it comes to seeking direction is found in the book of Proverbs. Whenever I have a big personal decision to make for our family, our future or the church, the thing I most want to know is the destination. I just want to know where to go, but God is most interested in where I start. If you are praying for direction in your life, this is where God says to start: with wisdom. Proverbs 4:5–6 says,
“Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.”
Seek godly wisdom, and you will find the guidance you seek. Regardless of what might be next, the best place to start is wisdom. Solomon, the wisest person who ever lived, also offers this helpful little gem:
“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (v. 7).
Where does wisdom begin? By getting wisdom. Thanks, Solomon. If this king thing doesn’t work out for you, you might want to consider a career as a fortune cookie writer.
Actually, his repetition is intentional. When seeking direction, nothing matters more than wisdom. God’s wisdom is always free—but that doesn’t mean it won’t come at a cost to your pride, your plans or your preferences.
Yet wisdom is well worth it. Listen to what wisdom will do for you over the course of your life:
“When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life” (Prov. 4:12–13).
When you choose to walk in wisdom, you tend to get tripped up less. You can move forward in faith and freedom. You don’t have to second-guess every decision. Listen to these words from God’s heart for your life:
“Pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Prov. 4:20–23).
Somehow along the way, our Western world made wisdom a thing of the head. We tend to equate wisdom with knowledge. But that couldn’t be any further from the truth. Wisdom is a thing of the heart. It’s not merely something you access when you need help making a decision—it’s a way of living. It’s like a real-time, whole-life GPS.
Solomon closes out his wisdom manifesto with this:
“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil” (Prov. 4:26–27).
There will always be shortcuts. There are always detours that can derail your life. But when wisdom tells you the way to go, that’s the way you should go. When wisdom gives you the next step, that’s the step you should take, even if it seems like there’s a quicker way of getting where you think you’re going. There really are no exceptions to this principle. You are not the exception to the rule. We all have had our fair share of experiences when we knew what wisdom was and chose to go another way—when we chose to go our own way. Times when we broke from the huddle too early. Times we thought we knew better. We tend to store these stories in a shoebox labeled “Regrets.” It just never works out like we thought it would when we walk outside of wisdom.
So what do you do when you don’t know what to do? Get wisdom. Not opinion, not consensus. Not someone else’s path or plans. Get wisdom—godly wisdom. Look for it. Ask God for it. Read through his Word. Listen to it. Do what it says. And you will find yourself—and those you’re leading—in far better places than you could have gotten on your own.
Excerpted with permission from Praying Through by Jarrett Stevens, published by NavPress. Copyright 2020, Jarrett Stevens.