Wisdom is one of those character traits, like many, where the value is easy to see, but how to gain the trait, how to do it better or even really excel at it, is much more difficult.
It’s easy to just say, “be wise” or “be compassionate” or even simply “be kind,” but how to live it, how to do it, is very difficult. One might as well just say, “be strong” or “be smart” or “be successful” or even “be great.” They all beg the question, “But how do you do that?” or “What does that actually look like?”
On the topic of how to get wisdom, author Paula Faris, says, “Have a ‘front-porch mentality.’ Ask, ‘How would my 70-year-old self make this decision?’ Try to put yourself in your future shoes, with the foresight and wisdom that only comes with experience. Think down the road, when you’re sitting on your front porch in your old age, and how the decision you make now will affect that person — and how your 70-year-old self would feel about the choice you make today.”
With each passing year, we all have opportunities to reflect on new experiences and insights. We all gain knowledge but not necessarily more wisdom. A.W. Tozer said, “The uncomprehending mind is unaffected by truth.”
How we grow from our experience and insights is dependent on three traits in progression: first, understanding, then discernment and finally, wisdom. First, we see and understand what happened, the cause and effect of the situation (that is understanding). With that, we can then reflect on why it happened, maybe the deeper reasons behind what happened (that is discernment). And finally, if we are able to first understand the “what” and discern the “why,” ideally we learn and know better how to live accordingly, how to live a little more wisely.
As the definition says, we make a practical application of what is learned. We live differently because of wisdom gained. Understanding changes what we comprehend; discernment changes what we know about the underlying causes; but wisdom changes how we live.
Getting wisdom is a process. And then actually applying wisdom, changing the way we act and live, is a matter of the will.
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