Proverbs 4: 7The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with organized sports for many decades, as an athlete, as a coach and as a parent. I have seen many encouraging things over the years, and I’ve seen many young people thrive as they compete in the sport they love. But what discourages me is when I see young people who do not flourish, especially since it is rarely their fault. So many fail because of a lack of wisdom demonstrated by coaches, parents and even sports administrators. Some examples of lack of wisdom (also known as foolishness) pertaining to young kids include: specializing in a sport at too early an age; overtraining young bodies; weight training at too early an age; overcommitted schedules (no time to play); overly organized sport (no place for creativity); too high a value placed on winning; no room for mistakes; talent selection versus talent identification (i.e. choosing the kid because he’s big today, rather than seeing who the small kid will become). Unfortunately, I could probably fill this page with further examples. I often wonder why there is such a lack of wisdom in sports. In fact, as I look beyond sports and see the prevalence of foolishness in society, I wonder why wisdom is in such short supply?
A dictionary definition of wisdom is “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right or lasting.” Wisdom is different from knowledge which is “information gained through experience, reasoning or acquaintance.” “Knowledge can exist without wisdom, but not the other way around. One can be knowledgeable without being wise. Knowledge is knowing how to use a gun; wisdom is knowing when to use it and when to keep it holstered.”[i]
We shouldn’t be surprised, however, that there is such a lack of wisdom in the world today, because we are told in Proverbs 1:7 that: “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but the fools despise wisdom and instruction”. Since the vast majority of the world rejects the Lord, they thereby reject the creator of wisdom. While the world races after fame and fortune, the Bible says: “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!” (Proverbs 16:16).
I’ve had the privilege to mentor a number of young people and one of the themes of my mentoring is wisdom. I strongly encourage them to desperately seek out wisdom if they wish to live a vibrant life. The Scriptures tell us that wisdom is a spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 12:8), and that Christ Jesus became wisdom for us from God (1 Corinthians 1:30). We are also told that wisdom is available to every Christian if we ask (James 1:5). So I encourage young people to do what I started doing in my late teens, praying James 1:5 to the Lord declaring that I lacked wisdom and I asked Him to give me wisdom. I have not stopped praying that same prayer. I also encourage them to frequently read the book of wisdom – Proverbs. There are 31 chapters in the book so whatever the day of month, open that chapter (i.e. on May 5th open the Bible and read Proverbs 5). As young people have requested wisdom from God, as they have gained knowledge from the scriptures such as from Proverbs, I have seen remarkable changes in their lives and my heart has been warmed to see wisdom blossoming in their lives. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom!