Wisdom cannot be microwaved! It comes from deep reflection, asking the right questions and careful self analysis. That is why it is in short supply today. Our world values quick answers and fast results. It favors the busy. Wisdom, however, favors introspection, truth and self-analysis.
Given that, what are some of the keys to becoming a person of wisdom?
Times of solitude
I am indebted to Henri Nouen on his insights into the necessity of solitude for personal transformation. He often wrote of the necessity of solitude - without the distractions of media or others - where we were forced to think deeply about the scaffolding of our lives. In fact, he suggested that we often avoid solitude because of what we might find when we have to face our true selves. Wisdom favors those who can and will look deeply into themselves, like King David, to see if there are any displeasing ways in us.
A source of truth
There is no wisdom without an unchanging source of truth that becomes the mirror against which we examine ourselves. For Christ followers, this is Scripture. But here is the problem: Most of us are too busy to read Scripture and think through its implications for our lives, decisions, thinking, attitudes and words. We want wisdom but we don't want to pay the price for it. Or, we read the latest book on leadership, self help (good as those are) and ignore the foundational truth of God's Word on which wisdom is always based.
Solomon said it this way in Proverbs 2:1-8. "My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones."
The wisdom of others
Wise individuals are readers. They have the humility to understand that they need many mentors and many of those mentors can be found in reading the wisdom of others. I don't have many books - I have many mentors on my shelves. Each one teaches me something about life and challenges my thinking.
Why keep a journal? It helps us to reflect on our lives, lessons we are learning, changes we would like to make and clarify our next steps. As Solomon wrote, finding wisdom is like mining for it, searching for its nuggets and brining our lives into alignment with that wisdom. There is no better way to accomplish this than to take the time to clarify your observations and commitments through the discipline of writing.
The common denominator in introspection and wisdom
The common denominator - and one reason there is not enough wisdom evidenced in our world is that it takes time. Wisdom cannot be microwaved. It is developed over time, taking the time to think deeply so that we can apply the principles to our lives and live with intention and wisdom. We can live fast and come to the end of our lives having missed the most important truths by which to live or we can live slower and take the time to live out those truths today.