Posts Tagged ‘Wisdom’

The Practice of Silence

September 12, 2016

I knew a guy who talked incessantly. Nice guy. He taught me many thing when I was younger.

At some point early in his adult life, he joined an order and entered a monastery. It was one of those orders where the key discipline is silence. “Can you imagine me, silent?” he would often ask with a smile.

James offers advice in his letter about the virtue and discipline of silence from the view of how much trouble you tongue can cause. When someone approaches and says “Let me speak the truth”, how often do you have that feeling of dismay?

Yes, often it is far better to maintain silence rather than say something.

There is another type of silence.

In Job we read, “Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone wrong.”

Again in Job, we read, “If you would only keep silent, that would be your wisdom.”

There is a silence that pairs nicely with waiting. If we could but be silent and wait for the Lord to speak to us, then we could hear and grow in wisdom.

That is a silence that comes in prayer when we finish talking and then sit and listen quietly for the whisper of God. That part, for me, is the best part. If only I did it three times daily like Daniel!

I love when the writer draws a picture. Imagine this (from Psalm 131), “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother.”

What a delightful picture of rest and contentment.

In silence we grow in wisdom and quiet our busy minds.

Speaking Your Mind-Is It The Wise Thing

July 18, 2016

Young people speaking their minds. Meeting so much resistance… – Buffalo Springfield

There was a news item about which types of people were likely voters for Donald Trump for President. The report pointed to college students who “wanted to be able to say whatever they felt like saying.”

This sounds pretty adolescent. But we’d expect that from an age group trying at the same time to grow up and to remain a kid. We’ve all been there (I remember with chagrin). I’m sure it’s a reaction to “political correctness” where we try not to use words that denigrate groups of people. I keep writing about that use of language.

But cleaning up language is a great way to clean up thinking as well as actions.

We learned a long time ago as soccer referees that if we dealt with the use of certain language by players–especially at the adult and college-age level–the game would go much better.

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body. — James

Yes, we can say anything we want. Perhaps the college kids referenced in the article (who may not even exist except in the mind of the reporter) really wish for the ability to “speak their minds” without repercussion. Oops. That isn’t going to happen. James pointed it out 2,000 years ago. Solomon, in the Proverbs, pointed it out 500 years before that.

Is it the wise thing to do?–Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley has been speaking on “Is it the wise thing to do?” Some things sound so good until we weigh it against our present and our future. It may not look so good. We may get some sort of personal emotional release, but at what expense?

Like Peter Pan, many people–even in their 30s and 40s these days–just don’t want to grow up. But growing up is the way of nature. We all do it–or suffer then inevitable consequences.

Speaking That Leads To Anger

March 14, 2016

He would say something about another person. That would lead to something else. Another thought would pop into his mind and out of his mouth with no filter in between. His face would get red. He’d grow agitated in movement. More, and worse, stuff would flow from his mouth.

The apostle James (1:19) tells us to be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

I never connected the speak –> anger continuum until I read this thought and then remembered a guy I knew.

How often we get ourselves wound up. And the more we go, the louder we get. The louder we become, the more violent our language.

I still remember with much shame the last time it happened to me. It was years ago. I knew it was happening. I couldn’t stop. I can advise others; I can’t do it myself.

News reporters continue to talk about how presidential candidate Donald Trump uses inflammatory speech that appeals to the “angry white man” foundation to his campaign. I don’t know how true it is, but it makes sense. I know many “angry white men”. Not all will vote for Trump, but all are sympathetic.

Now I read about how violence among supporters and detractors breaks out at his campaign appearances. It works from the outside, too. One person getting more and more belligerent incites others to become more belligerent.

James is right about our words. It is useful in life to be careful what we say. Words reflect emotions. Then they incite emotions. Then we get angry. Anger leads to regret.

Most people need to be listened to. Be swift to hear, James says. Help other people feel worth something. After all, they are all God’s children, too.

Be swift to hear. Learn what bothers them. What brings them joy. Why they are in sorrow. Just listen. Most of the time there’s no need to commentary or advice–especially advice. Just look them in the eyes and nod your head.

James was wise. Follow his advice, and you’ll fool people into thinking you also are wise.

Praying For Discernment And Changed Hearts

November 24, 2015

The headline was made for clicking–“Rick Warren: Paris Happened Because We’re at War with God.” I clicked. The article really wasn’t like the headline. Watch what you click online.

But it made me think.

There is evil in the world. We read it in the Bible. We can see it if we only keep our eyes open. I don’t blame Islam. Many followers of The Prophet are offended and aghast at the atrocities supposedly done in his name but which are just pure evil.

We also know both from the Bible and from experience that the only good comes from changed hearts. We need changed hearts to guide our reaction to circumstances.

A serious  question is whether people caught up in evil can escape and have a changed heart. Our only response from a distance is to pray for those changed hearts.

As for the article, there is no explanation for the comment. It came during a prayer. That is where we need discernment. There is so much sloppy thinking, uneducated opinion, cynicism, and bait for page views (and advertising money that come with them) on the Web, we really owe it to ourselves to practice discernment.

Praying, discernment, changed hearts (especially our own). Spiritual formation. It never ceases.

Bringing Down The Walls That Separate

November 23, 2015

Business writers (like me) often write about new technologies that promise to “break down the silos” of the various departments within an organization–for example, manufacturing, finance, engineering, maintenance.

The same can be true in other organizations. A church may have organizations (committees) around finance, buildings, worship, children ministry, youth ministry, missions. A church without a strong leadership team will discover that each of these have become a silo working independently often at cross purposes wasting resources.

Herod’s Temple in Jesus’ time had a wall beyond which non-Jewish people could not traverse. They were not allowed into the holiest of the areas. Paul the apostle had a problem when he was accused of bringing a “Greek” into the “Jewish” area.

Today we are still busy building walls. I read something about a bunch of governors wishing to erect a wall to keep refugees from the war in Syria out. Others desire a physical wall to keep Mexican people out.

We have church walls–even among varying persuasions of Christians. I remember playing guitar for a Mass in 1970. Father Ottenweller looked at me and said, “Someday, you will be able to take communion with us.” Well, 45 years later, still not true.

Several of my sources suddenly are all teaching on Ephesians. There is a chain of scholarly thought that this letter was not written by Paul. I guess these are the anti-Catholics (against priesthood that can be found implied in the letter). I’m not a scholar. This pretty much looks like a letter of Paul. And the second chapter has some interesting imagery. It talks of tearing down the walls that separate us. As Paul said elsewhere, “There is neither Jew nor Greek; male nor female; slave nor free; for we are all one in Jesus.”

Somewhere along the line, we as a people keep forgetting the simple facts of Christian life. We are meant to be wall removers, not wall erectors. Go find a wall to knock down today. And tomorrow.

What Happened To The End of Racism?

November 16, 2015

Many people in my all-white home town gave me some grief over my civil rights views in the 1960s. But it was mild, if pointed. And I survived driving through Mississippi a couple of times in 1970 with equal rights decals on my car.

But I thought momentum was building behind the idea of judging a person by their character rather than the color of their skins or other external differences.

There has been progress. Almost all laws in the US are now color-blind (and gender-blind–that was a problem, too). Most police no longer are a serious threat to the well-being, and even lives, of people of color.

The goal remains elusive.

We can change laws (good). Train people (good). Heighten awareness and provide peer pressure (good).

But we can’t change people’s hearts that easily.

Reports from Missouri suggest that the University of Missouri race relations have changed little since 1969. We still have too many incidents.

And now I expect my Facebook “news” stream to fill up with a reaction of hatred and verbal violence toward all people who are followers of Islam and/or of Middle Eastern descent because of the attacks by a few nihilists in Paris. (I quit reading most of that stuff  on Facebook. If you want to reach me in Facebook, you can use Messenger rather than just a post.)

I have some friends and many acquaintances among those groups. They are peace-loving people with a moral code not unlike many Christians (I wonder about the moral code of some).

It all makes me so sad. An entire adult life span, and we have actually progressed so little.

Can we take some time to watch what we say? Pray for those hurting? Pray for justice? Judge people according to character rather than this painting an entire religion and ethnic group with the same brush as brutal terrorists?

Thank you.

Seven Principles Of Thinking Like Da Vinci

November 11, 2015

Michael J. Gelb’s book, How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, reminds us of how to elevate our consciousness, creativity, and contribution.

I talked about curiosity as the first principle Monday. Let me quickly summarize the entire seven. Then go pick up the book and dive into the details. The bonus last chapter teaches how to draw like da Vinci–maybe not as good, but builds on his ideas.

(Gelb uses the Italian. Go figure.)

  • Curiosita–Am I asking the right questions?
  • Dimostrazione–How can I improve my ability to learn from my mistakes and experiences? How can I develop my independence of thought?
  • Sensazione–What is my plan for sharpening my senses as I age?
  • Sfumato–How can I strengthen my ability to hold creative tension to embrace the major paradoxes of life?
  • Arte/Scienza–Am I balancing Arte and Scienza at home and at work?
  • Corporalita–How can I nurture the balance of body and mind?
  • Connessione–How do all the above elements fit together? How does everything connect to everything else?

It is about body, mind, and spirit. You can, and probably should, incorporate these into your spiritual practices. Something to think about.

Mind Maps and Other Collaboration Tools

November 6, 2015

For the Friday Leadership post, I bring to you the idea of collaboration.

There are times when bringing people face-to-face is essential to accomplish something. Unfortunately most meetings are routine, pointless, serve only to bolster the leader’s ego, or serve as an excuse for coffee and doughnuts.

Many applications have appeared to help team members collaborate while being remote and also asynchronously. Consider Wikis, Slack, project management tools, Quip, Google Docs, (maybe) Microsoft Windows 365, Evernote, Nozbe, and many more.

I’ve been reading Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci lately. The author  spoke at the Emerson Exchange and whetted my curiosity (the first of seven traits).

Scholars have discovered some drawings akin to mind maps in Da Vinci’s journals. A mind map is a powerful tool. And, if you use a digital tool (I use Mindjet Manager), you can put it in the cloud and many can collaborate on ideas.

Don’t know what a mind map is? Here is one  I constructed using the computer app rather than just drawing (maybe the preferred way) for a project I’m working on.

IIoT Project

You can take notes on a mind map, doodle ideas, organize a project or a book, think creatively. It is a great tool. I’m about to work on two books while I’m between soccer seasons. I’ll mind map the outline and then just add text.

Mind maps are a tool. Thinking is the skill. Providing a safe environment for collaboration is leadership. Put it all together and accomplish something this year.


There Is Wisdom and then There Is Being Wise

October 19, 2015

Read the Proverbs every year. This spiritual  discipline keeps the wisdom of how to live well deep in your mind.

The book was written and compiled by Salomon, the most successful Israeli king.

The story goes that he became king due to his mother succeeding in palace intrigue in the court of King David. He moved quickly to consolidate power and kill off his adversaries. Sometime later, he had a vision of a conversation with God in a dream and asked for wisdom as his gift.

God was happy with that request and granted it. And King Solomon’s reputation for wisdom was a great as was his wealth.

God promised that if he would walk in His ways, his sons would continue to sit on the throne and the nation would be blessed.

I find it interesting that nowhere in 1 Kings does it state that God selected Solomon. David selected him upon the request of Bathsheba (remember their story?).

So, the king possessed great wisdom. He used wisdom to rule.

However, his rule also sowed the seeds of his eventual destruction.

God’s wisdom from the earliest entry of the Hebrews into the promised land was “Do not marry wives from the tribes living in the land.” Great wisdom. Women bring their culture and gods into the marriage. Solomon married 700 princesses from tribes all over the region. He allowed them to maintain worship of their own gods. Eventually Solomon himself worshiped those Gods. Imagine that! The builder of the Temple as a residence for God.

Speaking of the Temple, Solomon worked and taxed his people heavily so that he could build the Temple and then a huge palace for his residence (imagine having enough rooms for 700 wives and 300 concubines). The people were not happy as we find out in the story of the next (and last) king of a united Israel.

Let us take a lesson. There is amassing a great knowledge of wisdom sayings.

Then, there is being a wise person.

Don’t be like Solomon. Don’t just know “wisdom”. Practice being wise.

A Mind Like Water

July 13, 2015

We read in Proverbs (14:30) “A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh.”

David Allen, author and consultant of “Getting Things Done” fame, talks about having a “mind like water.” That is actually a phrase he learned in Karate class that may come from Zen. The metaphor is of a pond of still water that absorbs the disturbance of a pebble or rock thrown in with the ripples gradually going away to nothing.

In Getting Things Done (all about personal productivity and effectiveness), this means writing down everything that you are holding in your head. Empty everything, every task, every commitment, everything you are trying to remember by writing it and putting it in a trusted space.

I’ve written before that I love Nozbe for doing this. It is a hard discipline to write things down. But when you empty your mind, you have “mind like water”–still, tranquil, waiting to handle the next disturbance.

James Altucher, a Silicon Valley investor, just wrote about productivity. He quoted Albert Einstein who once derisively stated, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, what is an empty desk a sign of?” Altucher says, “that’s OK, Albert, I’d like an empty mind. That way I can fill it with what I choose.”

A tranquil mind means that I can concentrate on my Bible reading and other reading early in the morning.

A tranquil mind means that I can meditate with a clear focus on God far from all the distractions of clutter.

A tranquil mind means that I can come up with creative ideas for my business and my ministries.

As the wisdom teacher says, “A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh.”