Many speak of accumulating wealth, but few about gaining wisdom. Yet wealth without wisdom spells disaster. The awful plight of lottery winners is legendary. A person who has not experienced the self-discipline and hardships necessary to accumulate, manage, and view wealth in a healthy manner suddenly comes into a vast fortune and it becomes their ruin. Experts tell us that within a few years they’re broke not only financially but often morally, relationally, and in every other way.
They and we need wisdom! Wisdom is like love in that it possesses infinite application. Like love, wisdom’s depths are unfathomable and its resources and benefits beyond measure.
In the Bible, there’s a book called Proverbs, or The Book of Wisdom. King Solomon, purportedly the wisest and one of the wealthiest men who ever lived, wrote this book on wisdom.
Solomon urges us to gain wisdom above all else. “Wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.” (Proverbs 8:11) He counsels us to obtain wisdom regardless of the financial cost. He tells us to never forsake wisdom but cherish and embrace it and wisdom will reward you beyond your wildest dreams! (Proverbs 4:5-9) But what is wisdom?
What is wisdom?
Wisdom is applied knowledge. Knowledge by itself can make one proud and foolish, but properly applied knowledge is winsome, thoughtful, and prudent. In fact, true wisdom has many companions. Some of which include:
✤✤ Willingness to receive correction
✤✤ The fear of God
From this list we see that wisdom is as much a moral character trait as it is an intellectual one. That’s perhaps the biggest difference between knowledge and wisdom. Any fool or jerk can possess knowledge. But it takes someone with integrity to possess wisdom.
How We Gain Wisdom
We are not simply endowed with wisdom at birth. Instead, wisdom comes with deliberate pursuit and application. So how do we obtain wisdom—this all-important trait?
1. Fear God.
In the list of wisdom’s companions above, fearing God may have surprised you. But Solomon insists that the beginning of wisdom, or the place to start for obtaining wisdom is to fear God. (Proverbs 9:10) Fearing God in this sense is not being afraid of Him, but rather revering and honoring Him. And Solomon explains further, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6)
You may not consider yourself a religious person. That’s okay. This isn’t about religion, but a relationship. Seeking a relationship with God is a great place to start in your pursuit of wisdom. God’s words are recorded in the Bible, so we can gain wisdom and understanding through reading the Bible and applying its truths to our lives.
2. Spend time with wise people.
Solomon explains, “Walk with the wise and become wise.” (Proverbs 13:20) We become like those with whom we spend time. At the end of that passage, Solomon warns, “But a companion of fools suffers harm.” Even without conscious thought about what we’re doing, we become like those we hangout with.
This principle not only applies to our daily lives and those we socialize with, but also concerns the events and seminars we attend and even the podcasts we listen to. When we associate with others who are wise, their wisdom rubs off on us. We become like them in this respect. We become wise through interaction and relationship with them.
3. Read much.
We already mentioned this in passing, but it merits its own point. If wisdom is applied knowledge, then obtaining knowledge and understanding goes hand-in-hand with wisdom. Read a wide variety of literature that will help you grow both as a person and an entrepreneur or business owner.
Reading the wisdom of others who have experienced the hardships and struggles of building a business and dealing with life itself is another way of spending time with someone we might not otherwise meet. In this way, we can learn from the greats!
4. Accept discipline.
Solomon advises, “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.” (Proverbs 19:20) This refers to receiving counsel, or even a rebuke from someone we trust. But this also applies to implementing self-discipline in our lives. There is no wisdom in living a reckless, undisciplined life. At the same time, we’re not talking about a super-structured, vanilla, dull, boring lifestyle here. Wisdom is always coupled with moderation and prudence.
5. Put away pride.
“With pride comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2) This is a no-brainer! If we are going to fear God, spend time with wise people, read and learn from others and accept their counsel, all that requires a level of humility. We’re admitting that we don’t know it all. We don’t have it altogether. If we did, we wouldn’t need anybody else.
Wisdom admits our own need for the help and guidance of others. Pride is off-putting. Humbleness is winsome. With humility and wisdom we attract others. In fact, as we become wise, we become for others what we sought in those to whom we go for wisdom.
Let’s run with those thoughts for a moment. If wisdom really is more precious than wealth, that’s what we want to attract others to—our wisdom, not our wealth. Think about this in terms of your business. In what ways can you offer the precious gift of wisdom to others today? Whether we realize it or not, people are hungry for and clamoring after wisdom. Will they find it embodied in you?