Are you a person that others look to for wisdom and guidance? Are you grounded enough to be wise counsel to young and old alike? You could be. What makes a person wise? ◊
I’ve been thinking lots about wisdom and knowledge and intelligence and insight. These traits are highly touted yet the world is easily deceived. What’s worse than seeing people lacking in these areas is seeing people following and listening to these people as though they have great wisdom, knowledge, intelligence and insight.
All is not always as it appears.
We should know better, shouldn’t we? That is, should we not be able to recognize true wisdom? But what is wisdom? What is knowledge?
The Bible has some very specific things to say on the matter. It’s not what the world commonly would hold up as the definition of wisdom and knowledge. It’s laid out in the first seven verses of Proverbs:
The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:1-7)
What Does God Have to Do With It?
And that’s just it. God has everything to do with it. Now if you don’t believe in God, you’ve got bigger hurdles to get over in life before you can be truly wise counsel to anyone else. And as stated in the final verse, it’s actually the fear of the Lord, or awestruck reverence of God, that is only the beginning of knowledge.
Now while we as parents, friends, bosses, teachers, coaches, pastors, and others are all in a position to provide good counsel to peers and/or people we oversee and influence, it is only really those whose lives have God as their center core who dispense true wisdom, knowledge, and right instruction.
Anything less will be found wanting.
And as stated in that final verse, fools will despise that thought.
My Best Wise Mentor
For almost 20 years this man was like a father to me in matters of business and faith. He was all very human – strongly opinionated with a stubborn streak and feisty spirit impatient with those that didn’t see the world as he did. Nonetheless, I observed his maturing grace, true wisdom, and aging gentleness over those 20 years I knew him until he died in an uncannily Godly fashion.
Max Rondoni was originally one of my IBM customers. One Sunday I noticed in the church bulletin that Max and Lois Rondoni were listed as teachers of an upcoming Bible Study class. I called Max on Monday and confirmed that we attended the same church. I joined their class that week which started a 20-year odyssey of Bible learning, study, teaching, growing and friendship with Max and Lois.
I learned much from Max in the time I engaged with him. Looking back, my own youthful narrow vision and naiveté kept me from taking full advantage of the mentor and life-force I had at my disposal. He would drop anything to spend time with me. I should have more routinely probed his mind, heart, and experience in all matters of my life. I engaged as it was convenient for me and didn’t truly treasure the goldmine that was before me.
As Max was well versed in man’s wisdom, he overwhelmed that with God’s wisdom. Oh, how I wished I had that time back with him again.
Key Learnings from Max
I learned 3 key things from Max, my wise counsel:
- The Bible is to be Known and Studied – Max had the biggest personal library than anyone I had ever met. And he read all those books too. He studied the Scriptures and had spent a lifetime in becoming a student of the Word of God. He knew details and Biblical applications that I had never heard before in sermons and church group sessions. From Max I confirmed an important lesson: the cumulative effect of something practiced and repeated diligently will yield results. The key is to make that something a matter of worth. Personal Bible study is worth it.
- History is Real and Matters – Max taught the Bible in the context of historical timelines. He would always put lessons in context of history. Without overt pressure or demeaning charges, he challenged and motivated me to want to do the necessary homework to grasp and understand debatable topics. He knew the facts and could tell stories of people and events in light of a historical backdrop that made the lesson come to life and easier to understand. I became a student of history because of a non-credentialed historical scholar: Max.
- Jesus is an Intimate Friend – Max lived out an intimate relationship with his Lord and Creator. On our last meeting together over breakfast he shared with me his personal daily routine of spending hours in the morning with “his best friend, Jesus.” Though a noble action, at that time I was astounded that one could spend so much time in personal prayer, study and quiet time, even in quasi-retirement. The true intimacy he had with Christ was striking to me. It set a new perspective for me of what the Christian life/walk could be.
His Final Farewell
At that last breakfast meeting with Max, he also excitedly told me that a decade long ministry project (The Story of the Messiah) was culminating in the arrangement for distribution rights with a Midwest organization. They were arranging to come out in one month to meet with him and finalize the deal.
One month later I received a call from his wife, Lois, telling me that Max had died after suffering a massive heart attack. She told me that he had just had lunch with a man from a Midwest company and was celebrating the signing of a deal for distribution rights. Max was driving the man from the restaurant in Menlo Park, CA back to the San Francisco airport. The man later stated that as Max was driving, he suddenly slowed the car and steered it over to the curb. Max turned to the man and simply said “I’m going to be with Jesus now. Good-bye!” He then leaned over and died in the front seat. He was 78.
Are you one that others look to for wisdom and guidance? On what basis?
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. – Psalms 1:1-3