In my last post I introduced the subject of wisdom. Wisdom is one of those traits that can be used for good or evil. Our goal is to use wisdom to benefit ourselves, others, and even the organization or business we are associated with. We are gleaning our thoughts from 2 Samuel 17 and 18.
Here’s the storyline in a nutshell. Absalom, David’s son, has been living in exile and Joab wants him to be recalled home. However, as the story continues into chapters 17 and 18 more examples of wisdom and the lack of wisdom will illustrate even more how much we need to pray for wisdom. Six kinds of wisdom pop up in the story. Six kinds of wisdom you can and should pray for. And then a seventh which encompasses all six.
1. So Joab comes up with a plan. To get from here to there you will need planning wisdom.
Joab planned well in the sense that he was successful in getting Absalom recalled. Yes, you may read the story and would rather call it a scheme, and you would be right. However, I simply want to point out that his planning ultimately worked.
In chapter 17 Ahithophel also comes up with an effective plan.
Now Ahithophel urged Absalom, “Let me choose 12,000 men to start out after David tonight. 2 I will catch up with him while he is weary and discouraged. He and his troops will panic, and everyone will run away. Then I will kill only the king, 3 and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride returns to her husband. After all, it is only one man’s life that you seek. Then you will be at peace with all the people.”4 This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel (verses 1-4; NLT).
2. The plan was acknowledged to credible. However, as good as the plan was it lacked something, which we shortly see. And it was ignored because of what it lacked. So keep in mind that you may have the right plan, but it never gets executed because planning wisdom alone is not enough. Ultimately, you have to sell your plan.How was Joab going to convince the king to recall his son? He needed to make an emotional appeal. And who better than a wise woman who feigned to have her own family issues? So in comes the woman who was able to grab David’s attention and persuade him to act. She had persuasive wisdom. Granted, many use this type of wisdom to manipulate crowds or individuals for selfish reasons. In 2 Samuel 15:6 Absalom deceived the people. There is somewhat of an art to be persuasive. You must you the right words, tone, style, and even environment to persuasively move people.
Let’s jump back to chapter 17 and look at Ahitholphel’s plan. Once again, it was a very good plan. However, it lacked persuasive wisdom. Hushai came along and offered another plan. Actually, an inferior plan. But his plan had metaphors and appealed to Absalom’s emotions. Which plan was accepted and adopted? The one that was more persuasive.
So while you may be praying as you plan, don’t forget to pray for the ability to effectively communicate and persuade.
It may make the difference in whether or not it is well received.
In my next post we’ll look at four more types of wisdom.
Most of us probably approach the subject of wisdom from only one angle.
We simply want to know what to do next. Let’s call this particular wisdom. Perhaps you are looking to buy a new car and you want to make the right choice. Or it could be a career decision or any number of current decisions.
For starters there is popular wisdom. In many ways this is not wisdom at all, but if we have bought into the surrounding culture’s mentality, we think we are wise. I’m not sure you want to pray for this type of wisdom.
Many have unknowingly bought into the flavor of the day. But anyone can go along with the crowd. Absalom was all style and no substance, which incidentally makes many politicians, celebrities, and sport’s stars our modern-day heroes. But Absalom proved to be deceptive, and he hurt a lot of people.
With that in mind let’s dig a little deeper. Perhaps a good place to start is to read and reflect on the two chapters mentioned above. Here’s the bottom line: We can be wise and unwise at the same time. Full of wisdom and devoid of wisdom at the same time. Seems paradoxical, but a very real reality.
There are four main characters in those chapters, and they all possess wisdom. Not all wisdom is used wisely or for positive reasons. Some actually use their wisdom in order to manipulate others. Sad, but true.
That in itself calls for wisdom.
We’ll come back in the next post to discuss the types of wisdom you need to pray for. Until then read and reflect upon the two chapters mentioned above.
Excuses. We use them all the time. Sometimes we quite frankly just don’t want to do something.
Maybe some are legit, but could we be hurting ourselves, could we be holding ourselves back from reaching our full potential?
We have to ask, don’t we?
In the church world several scenarios tend to come up regularly.
1. We may be encouraged to schedule some time for Bible study.
Excuse: I don’t have the time.
2. Could you serve in this area perhaps greeting or children’s ministry?
Excuse: That’s not my area of giftedness.
3. This week would be a great time to start tithing.
Excuse: I can’t afford to give that much.
4. Would you like to join us this week in small group?
Excuse: The time frame doesn’t work for me.
You get the point. Granted many of our excuses are genuine. Moses certainly seemed to have some legitimate reasons for not wanting to do what God asked of him. In Exodus 3-4 Moses has the incredible burning bush experience with God. Following that God commissioned Moses to return to Egypt and be the leader and main spokesman for Israel.
To be honest public speaking always seems to rated at the top of our fears, so Moses reluctancy is reasonable. Or is it?
Now Moses appears to have good excuses for not responding to God’s call. But then all excuses seem plausible or we would not give them. Moses seems to be lacking self-confidence in his speaking abilities, but then who hasn’t felt linguistically challenged at some point.
Is that a good reason not to go?
God didn’t think so. In fact, God eventually got angry.
And thankfully Moses did ultimately go.
So what was the outcome? Moses became the greatest leader in the Old Testament, and perhaps in the entire Bible, next to Jesus.
The bottom line: Moses’ excuses were keeping him from his full potential. I’ll bet he was glad that God kept on him. What if God had given up and said,”Fine, don’t go, I’ll find someone else.”
How sad that would have been. Not only for Moses but for the nation of Israel and ultimately even us.
So the next time someone asks or challenges you, before you give an excuse ask yourself: Is my excuse holding me back from my full potential?
Jesus seemed to always be busy, yet never in a hurry.
What about Moses? If he had been running red lights he would have surely missed the burning bush.
Just those two examples alone seem to indicate that if you are in a hurry you are not fully present.
When you and I (assuming you too have found yourself always in a hurry) are in a hurry we:
* run red lights.
* want others to hurry and finish their story.
* fly around corners on the roads and in the stores.
* don’t have time for others.
* skip our Bible reading and our prayer time.
* miss things, opportunities, and valuable lessons.
* listen less attentively.
* don”t call others when we should.
* fail to carve time out just to think.
* change lines in the store…more than once.
* are obnoxious to others.
You get the point. Hurry needs to go!
No wonder the late Dallas Willard said, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
So for the last couple of weeks I have tried, somewhat successfully to do just that.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend the ACC Basketball Tournament. That meant that I had to buckle down and attack my upcoming message as I would be gone for three days. When it came time to leave Carol and I did not have to hurry to get there. I had allowed plenty of time.
When it came time to leave early Sunday morning I once again left early enough so I would not have to hurry back. Life is stressful enough. Why hurry and add to it?
Also just the other day I had to go to Lowe’s for two small items. First though I needed to take care of something in the customer service line. The woman in front of me had several items to return and it got complicated. Typically when in a hurry I’m sure I show it. However, I looked at my daughter Heather and said, “Let’s go get the two items and come back.” So we did. No stress. Minutes later there was no one around and we breezed out of the store.
It actually felt good to not be in a hurry.
Have I arrived? Absolutely not.
But I have learned why Willard said, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
So that’s the challenge. Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.
So what’s the solution?
Let me list eight antidotes to the eight hindrances.
As a review I will list the hindrance followed by the antidote.
Eight things that get in the way. The good news is there will always be unproductive days. I say good news because that is life. Why feel bad? You simply cannot allow that to destroy you. However, you can have better days. But you must be proactive.
What’s the biggest thing in the way of your own productivity?
Why not tackle that one first.
You’ll feel much better. After all, who wants to end the day feeling unproductive?
Perhaps one of the best places to start is to identify what’s holding you back.
In my own life I have identified eight things that get in the way. Just being able to identify them has proved helpful.
Just looking at these eight things may help you realize how easy it is to be less productive. These things seem to be ubiquitous. You are always fighting them.
So what’s the plan to overcome these hindrances? That’s coming in the next post.
Individual Style. Personalities studies have always fascinated me.
To help us better grasp the various personalities let’s use a simple tool. Florence Littauer has influenced me the most when it comes to personalities. So I will use the four she uses in her writings: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholy, and Phlegmatic.
Our space is limited, but these few descriptions should allow you to see where you fit.
I have watched people take jobs that simply did not fit their personality. If they had better understood themselves, life would have been much more enjoyable.
Sanguines love people, love to talk, and love to have fun. On the downside they can be motivated by their emotions. Popularity is their theme. They like to be the center of attention.
Choleric people love to be in control, do things their way, and thrive on the task at hand. Production is their theme.
Melancholy people thrive on order. They can’t stand chaos and clutter. Perfection is their theme.
The Phlegmatic personality loves people, loves to listen, and prefers to do things the easy way. You can tell by those things that their theme is Peace. They are not a fan of conflict. Sure most aren’t, but they are the peacemakers.
So where does David fit in? As a writer of many of the Psalms it seems clear that we could put him in the Melancholy category. While many melancholy people are less likely to share their deepest emotions, David clearly did. Since we all have a primary and secondary personality let’s put his secondary personality in the Choleric grouping.
As a choleric David thrived on challenges, excelled during times of crisis, and was very decisive.
Growth Phase. We have already mentioned David killing a bear and a lion. Evidently he was not ready for the giant until after those encounters. Also there were many lessons regarding leadership and servanthood that God could teach him while he was alone tending the sheep. Too often we find ourselves thinking we are ready, when in reality we are just getting warmed up.
Lead sheep….kill a bear and a lion…kill Goliath….lead an army….lead Israel as king. David grew during each phrase as God was preparing him for what He had prepared for him: Lead the nation of Israel.
Alan Redpath commented, “The conversion of a soul is the miracle of the moment; the manufacturing of a saint is the task of a lifetime.” If we could only be patient enough until the timing was right. No one wants to eat a cake if it comes out of the oven too early. Too often we run ahead of God while He is still manufacturing us.
Natural Abilities. While David was tending sheep he developed the skill of slinging. He also was being prepared by God as shepherding was exhausting work. Think of the patience David developed as sheep are among the dumbest animals. Add in unfavorable weather elements and predators. You become good at planning, thinking ahead. You also get a lot of time to reflect, which is something foreign to our fast-paced culture. Think how valuable this was for David as he penned many of the Psalms. Who hasn’t been touched by the twenty-third Psalm. It would be hard to find someone who has never heard of it. Yet what are the first words? “The Lord is my shepherd…” His natural ability, that of a shepherd, taught him much about God.
Three Things You Can Do Right Now
What if we looked at our makeup from six vantage points? That is, what if we could discern in a practical way how God made us?
Let’s take a closer look at David and see how this plays out from a practical viewpoint.
Desire. All of us have desires or passions. When David met Goliath, David had a passion for the glory of God. He simply could not tolerate anyone disparaging the name of God.
1 Samuel 17:45-47 (NLT)
45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that theLord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is theLord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
David was frustrated that someone would speak about God the way Goliath did.
Experience. David spent many lonely nights out in the field leading and protecting the sheep. We find out later that he had actually killed both a lion and a bear barehanded. Those experiences would soon prove valuable. He had no experience wearing the attire of a soldier, so he resorted to his experience with the sling.
1 Samuel 17:38-39 (NLT)
38 Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. 39 David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before.
“I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again.
However, David had a lot of experience with a sling. David was able to use that experience to kill the giant.
Spiritual Gifts. Rather than paint David into a corner, it becomes obvious that he has the gift of leadership. He does things leaders do. He takes the initiative. He takes responsibility. He casts a daunting vision.
Romans 12:6-8 (NLT) lists several spiritual gifts. The list is not exhaustive, but it does give you an idea. 6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
I will only comment on the gift of leadership since space here is limited. As a leader David took his responsibility seriously.
In my next post we’ll look at the remaining components of your profile.
Let dig back into the archives. Way back. I still remember watching the NFC Championship Game in 1967 (at the time it was the National Football League) with my dad. Ray Scott and Jack Buck, two of my all time favorite sportscasters, called the game.
I will spare you the details, but the game came to be known as the Ice Bowl. Look it up. The weather conditions were beyond brutal.
However, the Green Bay Packers were coached by the legendary Vince Lombardi, and the Dallas Cowboys by the legendary Tom Landry. It was a tight game. The score was Dallas 17 – Green Bay 14 with just seconds remaining. However, Green Bay had the ball at the one-yard line (sound familiar?). Actually it was a little less than a yard to go for a touchdown.
It was third down and Bart Starr, the quarterback, was able to sneak it into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. That play was played over and over. It became a defining moment. Now no one knew that at the time. But that’s the way defining moments are. You don’t realize them until later.
But that touchdown secured Vince Lombardi’s place in football history. In fact, I will go so far as to say that if Green Bay had not scored, today’s Super Bowl winner would not be receiving the Lombardi trophy, but the Landry trophy. That’s how big that play was.
You too will face defining moments. My dad faced one when he came home with an unusual job offer. He took it, and it continues to define his life. It was a wise decision.
In my own life I made a decision to buy a piece of land in a split second. That quick decision became a very positive defining moment in my family’s life.
In the business world, Stephen Covey wrote a book in his fifties entitled “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.” That book became a defining moment in his own life.
But let’s go back to football and the recent Super Bowl. Seattle had the ball at the one yard line; however, unlike Green Bay, they did not score. As a result New England won the game and Tom Brady became a four-time Super Bowl winner. Even though he was not on the field for the crucial play, that win has forever put him in the conversation of “Best Quarterbacks of All Time.” The play at the end of the game and the win became defining moments in his life. It didn’t hurt that he had an incredible fourth quarter while on the field.
A defining moment may be on its way into your own life. You may not recognize when it comes, but there will be one. The best way to prepare is to start making wise decisions today so when the defining moment comes, you’ll be ready to make the decision that defines you.
In the Old Testament a boy named David made a decision to take on the giant Goliath. That decision became the defining moment in his life. But his earlier decisions led to that decision.
Once again, a defining moment is on its way. I hope you’re ready. It may define you for years to come.
Are you ready?