by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President
“For wisdom is better than jewels; And all desirable things cannot compare with her” (Proverbs 8:11).
In this age of information, the average leader is awash with details. The great task of most days is wading through data to assemble, assimilate, and assign value to meaningful information. But information by itself, without context, isn’t particularly helpful. It’s likely just trivia.
Information must be organized into meaningful constructs to become knowledge. Knowledge becomes understanding when we find relevant application. Wisdom is manifested in how information, knowledge, and understanding are handled. Wisdom involves judgment, sensitivity, tact, and often, timing.
Where there is no choice, the exercise of wisdom is limited. It is when we recognize multiple choices, possibilities, or actions that wisdom can become our friend and ally. Judging between choices and possibilities leads us to questions about what we know, how we know it, and if we know enough.
A prudent question is one-half of wisdom. - Francis Bacon
Wisdom often involves balancing the need to gain more information with the available resources (including time) necessary to make an informed decision.
Besides information, there are other wisdom elements that come into play such as sensitivity to those involved or affected. The wise leader works to involve to some degree the stakeholders in the decision-making process. That could be in the form of a single brainstorming session or, full-on collaborative planning process. Even the most visionary thinker can have blind spots. Actively seeking the input of others, within reason, can minimize these as well as strengthen acceptance of the outcome.
The wise leader also factors the impact of the decision on others.
Once a decision is made, it is the responsibility of the Christian leader to use the most compassionate means to treat those affected and to support them... - Kurt Senske, Executive Values
There must always be sensitivity to the fact that, even with the best of intentions, some people may be negatively affected. Therefore, the best decisions will include appropriate tactfulness in implementation. Tact is also important in communicating the decision. Crafting vivid, warm, vision-focused language can tactfully define a decision for all involved.
More than sensitivity and tact, wisdom seeks a process that honors all involved. Hard decisions, even those with difficult short-term consequences, can be implemented with this in mind.
A good decision, implemented in an untimely fashion, can produce negative results.
Nine-tenths of wisdom consists in being wise in time. - Theodore Roosevelt
Wisdom involves timing for many reasons – maximizing return on investment, minimizing negative impact, speed to achieve expected results, slow implementation allowing others to adjust, etc. Tough decisions can require difficult steps that involve short term pain. But those difficult steps can be accomplished well.
Fortunately, wisdom isn’t just an innate quality reserved for a few. The book of Proverbs consistently implores us to seek and pursue it. Wisdom is promised by the Lord. Those serving in Christian ministry, at whatever level, should consistently pray for wisdom in all endeavors – personal, professional, and organizational.
“For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright…” (Proverbs 2:6-7).
Adapted from Heartbeat International’s foundational training manual, GOVERN Well™