Note to self: Get wisdom.

The trend line is hard to miss. Wisdom has fallen on hard times in recent days — including among people of faith. As noted in a New York Times op-ed piece, the faith of many Americans has become “an occasion to embrace discredited, ridiculous, and even dangerous ideas.” We boast that ours is an all-wise God, yet denigrate those who make getting wisdom a priority. And that’s unfortunate. If ever there was a time for tempering passion with reason, it’s now.This was the message my friend Ruth Clark brought to devotional comments at a recent planning meeting for American Baptist International Ministries. Ruth is the outgoing chair of International Ministries and the incoming chair of the denomination’s board of directors, so she knows a thing or two about leading wisely.

FROM ROTE TO RIGHT

With Proverbs 4 as her text, Ruth stressed the importance of matching wisdom with passion. She illustrated her point with the following story about her two-year old grandson.

I have been amazed to realize that Elijah recognizes the upper case letters of the alphabet and will “read” them aloud and then cheer his accomplishment. He rattled off the letters that spell radiator two weeks ago after his bedroom was redecorated in Cars motif.

As Elijah and I were running errands last week, he would read me the letters above the businesses – AAA, B-E-A-U-T-Y  E-X-P-R-E-S-S, for example. But then his new ability got me into some trouble. I had stopped to get the car washed, and as I strapped him back into his car seat, he “read” the letters on the adjoining business, “L-I-Q-U-O-R.” While he knows the sounds of some of the letters, he only has the knowledge to recognize the letters, not the wisdom to know what the words are that the letters create.

My challenge to each of us is to gather all the ”letters” — the individual and corporate knowledge we have discerned in our conversations and work together over the past several months — and from that knowledge, get wisdom.

We can chuckle along with the delightful Elijah and his proud grandmother. More passion than wisdom is cute in a toddler — not so much in adults. When our goal is to advance God’s grand enterprise or achieve a great cause, we do well to heed the the writer of Proverbs.

Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown (4: 7-9)

What’s your take on the passion/wisdom quotient among people of faith these days? Have I overstated my case?

What's your take on this topic?

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