Nuggets of Wisdom

How to get wisdom

Just last week I was chatting with one of my friends about how we get wisdom. I said something along the lines of, “I think wisdom comes from us putting our knowledge to the test over and over again until we understand it in a more intimate way.”

My friend nodded his head and mumbled something about intuition, so we drew this little diagram because we’re nerds:

knowledge (intuition) –> experience –> x1000 attempts –> understanding –> wisdom

It’s also been said that “good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement.” I’m sure that little diagram about wisdom exists in that somewhere also.

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Wisdom and the Divine

The book of Proverbs says that if we make our ears attentive to wisdom and incline our hearts to understanding that we’ll get a glimpse of what it is to know God (Pr. 2:1-5).

So it seems that cultivating wisdom leads to intimacy with the Divine.

In my life, one of the easiest ways to be attentive and seek understanding is to sit at the feet of those who have gone before us and learn from their experiences.

It speaks to the importance of having mentors not just in our careers, but in our faith as well. (If we were all going to be honest with ourselves, we could all make this a bigger priority…)

Wisdom from Bob

Recently, one of our pastors on staff at First Baptist Decatur retired after 28 years of dedicated service to our congregation. At his last staff meeting, Bob Williamson passed around some nuggets of wisdom he learned throughout his life of ministry and I thought I’d share a few of them with you.

  • Your name will go further than you will.

  • The church will change you more than you will ever change the church.

  • You better have the same respect for the janitor that you have for the senior pastor. Everyone deserves that.

  • Every so often you need to step back and ask the question: What are we trying to do to people?

  • Don’t expect the laity to do the jobs you wouldn't be willing to do.

  • Don’t believe all the bad things or all the good things people will say about you. Reality is somewhere in the middle.

  • The work is never finished. It will never all get done. At the end of the day, sometimes you just need to walk away. It will be there in the morning.

  • More often than not, the greatest work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home.

Reflecting on wisdom

What kind of things are you learning? What kind of experiences are you sharing with those around you? How might someone pick up the mantle of your understanding and expand it?

Bob said, “Your name will go further than you will,” and it’s got me to thinking a lot about legacy and how committed (or uncommitted) I am to building up others around me and letting them run with the nuggets of wisdom I’ve learned.

Make it a point to seek out someone older and wiser than you this week. Ask them their story. Make your ears attentive. Incline your heart to understanding.

Perhaps then you’ll get a glimpse of God, and catch some wisdom along the way.


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Matt Snyder is a thirty-something writer and Director of Communications at First Baptist Church of Decatur. You can read more of his writing at matthewlasnyder.com