The Second Need of Leadership: Wisdom
(This is installment 3 of Leadership Lessons from the Kings)
Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong…(1 Kings 3:7-9)
Solomon, the boy king, was offered a “blank check” by God and instead of cashing it on material possessions, fame or power he asks God for wisdom. I am not sure that Solomon at his age knew what he was asking for. In fact it was likely out of desperation that made his request. No doubt, his court was full of advisers and wise men who would have gladly filled the request. For some reason, Solomon did not think their wisdom sufficient and so he asks God for it for himself.
If the first need of a leader is a relationship with God, the second need of a leader is the wisdom that comes from God. There will always be plenty of people who offer their opinion and call it wisdom, but the leader has to be able to discern what is foolishness, what is worldly wisdom and what is God’s wisdom on the matter. Leaders often find themselves surrounded by people who want what they want for the leader or they want what the leader wants for the leader, but finding people who want what God wants for the leader even thought it may cost them is a rare thing. The leader who can claim such an adviser can certainly count themselves as blessed.
However, there is another level of wisdom that cannot be assigned to advisers. When decisions come, surveying the data is important, listening to wise counsel is equally important—but seeking God’s wisdom is the key to leading wisely. Sometimes the data and counsel both point to something that make sense in the moment, but only God can see clearly the outcomes.
The Israelites, under Joshua’s command found themselves in this position when they made a peace treaty with the Gibeonites (9:14). The Israelites examined the “data” and did what seemed right and faithful, but the telling words are “…but they did not consult the Lord.” The consequences of what seemed like a wise decision were substantial.
Solomon asked for godly wisdom, for a constant consultative relationship on the front end of his tenure. He didn’t wait for a crisis or for a specific incident in which he needed God’s wisdom. He knew given his task and responsibility that his need for godly wisdom was going to be a constant.
The godly leader understands the need for wisdom beyond the data, and beyond wise counsel…it is a wisdom that only comes from God. Blessed is the godly leader who asks for it before they need it.