The fundamental ability to discern the difference between where it’s appropriate to take shortcuts in life and where we cannot and must not take shortcuts is a function of wisdom.
Wisdom is understanding God’s design for our lives and living into that design, taking the proven path by which that design unfolds. It is the ability to apply His truth practically in all kinds of situations in a way that brings order, peace, and blessing. Wisdom is what produces good judgment, sound strategies, discernment, and healthy habits of spirit, mind, and body.
Taking the proven path of wisdom is what leads not just to building a successful career, achieving our financial or health goals, or reaching our potential in faith, personal growth, and relationships, but to thriving in life. How do we get wisdom? Wisdom comes to us in three primary ways:
The first is experience. While experience in itself doesn’t guarantee that we will learn from it, it is also true that only through experience does truth move from being mere ideas and information to becoming trained instincts, discernment, understanding, and skill.
Second, wisdom comes to us from others who have gained wisdom through their experiences.
Last, all wisdom ultimately comes from God through His Word and Spirit. Proverbs tells us that, “the fear of the Lord”—that is, putting God in His rightful place as Lord and King, and trusting Him as the highest authority in our lives—is “the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).
If we truly want to become wise, we will pursue wisdom from all of these sources. However, we will only receive wisdom from these sources by taking the right posture—the posture of a learner, a student, a disciple. Solomon famously took this posture in his prayer for wisdom:
Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your ser- vant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours? (1 Kings 3:7-9, NIV)
Without exception, the wisest people I know all demonstrate this humble, hungry heart of a learner, no matter their age or experience. They never conclude that they have “arrived” and can stop seeking wisdom. The wisest people also seem so far ahead of most people when it comes to thriving in life. Why? Wisdom is not a shortcut—it doesn’t bypass the process of learning, growth, and hard work. But, because it helps you embrace and navigate that process successfully, wisdom actually does accelerate you, make you more effective, and save you time in learning to thrive in life.
Now, I’m curious to hear from you! In what area have you grown in wisdom for your life and work? Which of the three ways did you use to gain that wisdom? How have you seen the posture of being a learner pay off for people? Share your thoughts in the comments!
The above is an excerpt from my new book, “Shortcuts,” which will be released in May. Find out more by clicking here.