Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you’re wiser. Wisdom has little to do with age but everything to do with experiential learning: the application of what you know. Going from comprehending (knowing) to apprehending (applying). 

My dad used to distinguish people who were book smart as opposed to those who were street smart. One can be book smart (intelligence) but not street smart (wisdom). I would rather work with/for a person of wisdom, regardless of age, than a person who is intelligent but not very wise. A person can be young and wise or old and foolish.

Wisdom is of more value than intelligence without wisdom; of course one would like to have both. In a perfect world, intelligence results in wisdom, but that, unfortunately, is not always the case. I have known people who are very young but wise and I have also met my share of older men and women who are very smart, but also very foolish.  It seems to me that we are prone to hire on the basis of intelligence and don’t pay enough attention to the wisdom part. Just because a person has a high IQ, and graduated at the top of their class doesn’t mean they are wise.  There are lots of younger people who are very wise and a lot of older people who are very foolish (as Proverbs would call them.)

In our educational system, it seems to me, we place too much emphasis on IQ (intelligence quotient) and too little on EQ (emotional quotient) a term popularized by author Daniel Goleman. Here is a link to a post I did on EQ.

How Smart Are You?

Its applied experience that turns intelligence into wisdom but you don’t necessarily  have to have lots of years to get the experience. It’s a matter of constantly asking yourself some foundational questions:

  1. What just happened?
  2. What can I learn from what just happened?
  3. What should I do differently next time this happens?
  4. What should I stop doing?
  5. What should I start doing?
  6. What should I do differently?

People who are growing in wisdom are always asking themselves these sorts of questions. People who are not very wise just press ahead and keep doing the same thing over and over and hoping for different results. If you keep doing what you’ve always done you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.

As Christian leaders, wisdom is something our Savior wants us to have and to grow in. The kind of wisdom we are talking about is relational in nature.

James 3:13-18 nails it!  Here it is in The Message paraphrase:

“Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.”

This is the essence of godly wisdom; the essence of emotional intelligence which is wisdom in deed and in truth! By His grace, may you as a Christian leader grow in wisdom and be the leader you were created to be.