Wisdom is a misunderstood concept. When thinking of wisdom many people imagine an old man stroking his white beard, or a Tibetan monk type who spends most of his time praying in seclusion. While folks that fit this description might well be wise, these are not helpful images for a leader to have in mind.
In my way of thinking, which is based heavily on the book of James*, one cannot be wise unless one acts wise. To twist the phrase from Forrest Gump…
Wise Is As Wise Does
Anyone can be wise, facial hair or not. Wisdom is seen through the lens of action. Leaders who are wise will be seen as:
- Gentle: Leaders who are gentle do not seek harm for others. This isn’t just about physical harm. This relates to how we speak to others, how we speak about others, and whether we consider the impact our actions indirectly have on others.
- Willing to yield: Leaders who are willing to yield are not stubborn. They listen, will admit when someone else has a point, and will change.
- Merciful: Leaders who are merciful are kind and forgiving even when they have every right to treat someone harshly.
- Showing no favoritism: Leaders cannot show favoritism. Nothing good comes from having in-groups and out-groups. Everyone has to feel they are a part of the team in order for them to strive toward a common goal.
- Sincere: Leaders who are sincere have integrity. They value the right things and they genuinely live out those values.
Leading wisely yields peace amongst the team! This peace creates a culture where people feel safe, and thus are willing to put themselves out there on behalf of the team. Isn’t this what we all want?
Leaders must also check their motives. Only people motivated toward the good of others are engaging in wise action. People who are motivated by jealousy and/or selfish ambition will not act wisely. Jealous people are acting either out of envy or the need to try to protect what they perceive to be theirs. They are not thinking about how to create the best outcome for the team. Similarly, while ambition is not a bad thing, ambition that is simply about self promotion isn’t wise. Over time followers will see through selfish leaders. A selfish leader’s actions will give her/him away and people will begin to sense disorder. Ultimately, this will ruin any chance for peace and safety. Thanks for playing selfish leader…Game Over!!!
*True Wisdom Comes from God
13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.