8 Practices to Gain Wisdom In Leadership


Wisdom is not a guaranteed virtue that accompanies age.

Recall the words of Elihu in the book of Job.

“I thought, ‘Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.’ But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives understanding. It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right.”

Job 32:7-9

(The idea for using this scripture came from David Mathis’ book, Habits of Grace.) Good book!

I wish my grey hair guaranteed wisdom, but it doesn’t! I must pursue wisdom from the primary source, God, “the breath of the Almighty.”

There is a great difference between learning, growing, and changing every year and repeating the same things over and over again — be careful of that trap.

One leads to wisdom; the other leads to exhaustion.

Consider this encouragement to pursue wisdom.

“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.”

Proverbs 3:13-18

Pursue is a keyword; gaining wisdom requires effort, focus, and intentionality over a lifetime.

Wisdom helps to prevent poor decisions that make leadership more difficult than it needs to be … without pursuing wisdom, are we choosing to make poor decisions?

All leaders need the freedom to try something their way, fail, learn and grow, but that’s different than neglecting wisdom.

The irony about the pursuit of wisdom is that the practices are not complicated, but they do require intentional effort.

As you read them, don’t scan the practices too quickly from their apparent simplicity; read and reflect on how consistently you practice each one.

8 Practices to Gain and Enhance Wisdom: 

(God gives wisdom and provides other avenues to support and solidify that wisdom.)

1) Know your Achilles heel of temptation

One poor decision can waste a generous amount of God’s wisdom.

That is why some defense is needed to stand guard while you move forward (offense) and pursue wisdom.

What is your kryptonite? What can render you powerless and take you down?

What is your leadership Achilles heel that in a moment can waste all the wisdom God has given or is willing to you?

We all make mistakes, fail, and fall short of God’s best. However, making a poor decision based on a known temptation can be avoided.

Name your Achilles heel, own it, remain self-aware and vigilant to resist.

2) Ask God

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

James 1:5-6

One of the most incredible gifts from God is wisdom, and we need only ask without doubt.

God supplies wisdom generously who use it according to His purposes.

3) Embrace humility like it was gold.

Pride is the great destroyer of wisdom; humility and courage are its protectors.

Pride can not only block your receptivity to wisdom; it can destroy the wisdom you do have.

Pride is the enemy of your soul, and the ripple effects always hurt others.

Humility is the gateway to the kind of character that God can trust with His wisdom.

Humility isn’t weakness; it’s strength under control.

4) Establish and protect think time

Wisdom is the application of knowledge; it is discernment combined with knowing when and how to take action.

If you serve as an individual contributor, you can immediately apply specific wisdom directly to a task inside a given project.

As a leader, however, you must translate wisdom into multiple stages of strategy, timing (because of change), and the nuances of relationships.

In order to do this, it’s important to set aside specific times for thinking (solving problems, developing strategy, and innovation) each week.

You’re busy, I know.

So how about trying three one-hour blocks a week for “think time?”

Seems worthwhile to steward such a gift as great as wisdom.

5) Use the wisdom you’ve been given as the great multiplier.

You have been given spiritual gifts, the fruit of the spirit, human talents, and energy and resources. You already have much.

Wisdom is like leadership nitro poured on what you already have been given by God.

When you passionately lean into God’s plan for your ministry, wisdom multiplies it to places far beyond your ability.

  • God’s wisdom + your plan falls short.
  • God’s plan + your wisdom falls short.
  • God’s plan + your leadership effort + God’s wisdom = greatest Kingdom results.

6) Associate with wise colleagues and mentors

Wisdom is not merely philosophical, something ethereal, or truth too deep to understand; at its best, it’s very practical.

God doesn’t limit the ways He can share wisdom with you.

Candidly, you might be too exhausted, or under too much pressure to hear God speaking directly to you, so He gives you wisdom through the counsel of others.

Who do you listen to?

Who are the advisors that comprise the small group of your trusted wise counsel?

As a leader, that group is non-negotiable. If you don’t have a group like that, start with one person. Then, ask God to send them your way!

7) Meditate on key biblical passages

Reading the entire Bible is important, and reading the whole Bible in a year is a great practice.

But I’ve found that sometimes reading smaller passages of Scripture, even just one verse, and lingering longer, soaking in and meditating on it brings a depth of wisdom that cannot be gained any other way.

Ask these questions about the Scripture you read, “What is the truth, what is the wisdom, how should this change me, how do I apply it to my life?”

You may not make it through the Bible that year, but wow, see what God might do. (Of course, you are not limited to either / or.)

Personally, I’ve always been leery of being biblically educated beyond my level of practice or obedience.

8) Pass it on

Wisdom from God will bless you personally, but it was never intended to stop with you. Pass it on and bless others.

I love Solomon’s request to God in I Kings 3:9.

So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

This has inspired me for the longest time. God was kind and generous to Solomon because of the nature of His request. (Read I Kings 3:1-15)

What are you asking of God? What wisdom are you gaining to help others live a better life and live it more like Jesus?

Pass it on.