Where Wisdom Begins

Strong, godly leadership requires many virtues: patience, vision, humility, perseverance, and many more. Try as we might, we never get to the top of the mountain on any of these virtues. Yet, good leaders never stop pursuing them. If God allowed me to choose a virtue He would grant me, I would choose wisdom. Wisdom is essentially insight that allows one to make right choices.

If one decides to pursue wisdom, one does well to realize that wisdom comes from God, and it also comes from the humility God’s presence provides. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” After 35 years of following the Lord and 15 years of ministry, the truth of this verse has been proven to me over and over again. Both embracing things that bring abundance to life and ministry and rejecting foolish or sinful things require an awareness of God’s true presence. God’s true presence frames all of life with reverence and awe–even fear of the Lord that puts us on a course to wisdom.

Some ignore verses like Proverbs 1:7 or reinterpret “fear of the LORD” to mean something like “a sense of respect.” That’s too soft a translation. It’s also more likely to lead to today’s pseudo-wisdom that is more an alloy of self-realization and the pursuit of godliness than true godliness, which recognizes God’s superiority in all things and what His existence and presence demands of us. This sense of transcendence makes even more powerful and true His immanence. However, it’s my belief that a sense of His transcendence is a prerequisite for experiencing the true power of His immanence evident in Christ and the Holy Spirit.

As a leader then, the reality of who God is:

  • Reminds me it’s His world and I’m just living in it.
  • Reminds me it’s Church and I’m just serving in it.
  • Reminds me it’s His Gospel and I’m just preaching it.
  • Reminds me it’s His Call and I’m just obeying it.
This sort of framework leads to wisdom in ministry. But, Proverbs 1:7 also impacts me as a Christian. The reality of who God is:
  • Leads me to repentance before His holiness.
  • Helps me experience the Gospel’s power before trying to communicate it to others.
  • Causes me to put He and His Cause before anything else. So, I give time, talent and treasure toward the advance of His Kingdom first.
  • Leads me to treat my wife and children the way the God I revere would want me to.
  • Guides my speech in reverence for God.
  • Causes me to stand in awe that the God of the Bible knows my name, numbers the hairs on my head and wants me to spend eternity with Him.
It all begins with the fear of the Lord.
What is true for everyone is especially true for leaders. If you want to be a fool of a leader like Manasseh, lose your fear of the Lord. If you want to be a great and wise leader like Josiah, it begins with the fear of the Lord.
Thoughts?

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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