Who doesn’t want more wisdom in their life? With all the decisions we face everyday, we want to know that we’re doing the right thing and following God’s plan for our lives. So how do we find the wisdom we so desperately want? And what part does discernment play in everything? LaDonna Slade, speaker, coach, and small groups coordinator for 4word: Austin, guides us through the process of finding wisdom and good news: it’s simple!
Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m a mover and a shaker and a candlestick maker! No, not really. I just wanted to get you to smile! Hopefully, mission accomplished. Seriously, I’m a native Californian currently residing in Austin, TX. I have a passion to see people free from the situations that hinders them from living an abundant life in Christ. My heart is especially drawn toward the “newbies” in Christ or those new to studying the Bible. I established a beginners Bible study called Pearl Patch where we help build a foundation in the Word to make studying the Bible less intimidating.
Now, it may be obvious that I love all things Jesus! I am a wonderful daughter, sister, auntie and friend. I also recently became a great-aunt for the third time.
I am the small groups coordinator for 4word: Austin. It’s a joy to be part of a community of professional like-minded woman supporting each other along their faith journey.
What is the difference between wisdom and discernment? Can you have one without the other?
I frequently hear the words “wisdom” and “discernment” used interchangeably. We can unintentionally use one more than the other and mistake it for the same thing. However, there is a clear differentiator between the two.
Have you heard the phrases, “Just because it’s good to do doesn’t always mean it’s good for you to do.” or “Good or God.”? Knowing the difference between wisdom and discernment helps you make better decisions in these areas as well as focuses your prayer requests. That’s why it’s good to keep them as travel buddies and exercise both at the same time.
I think of wisdom and discernment like two sides of the same coin. As you spend time using one, the other is always available asking, “Do you need me, too?”
Let’s start with wisdom. Wisdom is considered the skills for living correctly; a right application of knowledge and the perception of things as they really are. Now, that is a true and wonderful definition; however, I’ve come to understand that wisdom is more than a skill or a tool. It’s a choice.
Now, let’s take a look at discernment. The Bible speaks of discernment as a sensor to detect what is good and what is evil.
So, if we use these words in the form of a strategy, wisdom would be the what and how in a situation, and discernment would be the if and when to apply it.
Where should we look for wisdom?
The first key to finding wisdom is to recognize when we see or hear it. We often think that wisdom is hiding from us in some mysterious place where only the uber intelligent or deeply spiritual persons can find. It’s not.
Wisdom is always available to everyone. Proverbs tells us that wisdom is in the street, constantly calling out to us. Imagine a group of children waiting to be picked to play in a spur of the moment game of soccer. Can you see their hands raised and hear them shouting, “Pick me, pick me!” Well, that’s what wisdom is doing to us all the time, even in the smallest of decisions. Wisdom is calling out to us, “Pick me!” As I mentioned before, wisdom is not a tool to be taken out at certain times or for certain situations. Wisdom is a choice.
What is cool about looking for wisdom is that it shows up dressed in everyday work clothes, ready to go to work for us. However, because it’s been billed as such an elusive attribute, we tend to overlook the simplicity of it. The Bible talks about wisdom being tightly associated with knowledge and understanding. Wisdom shows up as insights and ideas that come across your mind. It will show up while reading, hearing or remembering a Bible verse. There is a way that wisdom shows up that is a bit more subtle. It’s when we feel convicted about something we know should have been handled in a different way. See what I mean by everyday clothes?
Is it wrong to feel embarrassed about a lack of wisdom about something?
We should never feel embarrassed, especially as a child of God. There is a saying, “You don’t know, what you don’t know.” That’s why I’m so excited that the Bible provides clear direction for what to do when we lack wisdom. It says to simply, ASK. In James 1:5-8, it actually starts off by saying, “If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.”
Sometimes in our professions we can feel the pressure of having to know everything about everything. We oftentimes place that expectation on ourselves even though we know it’s unrealistic. What I think is so cool about that scripture is the fact that there is no judgement or cost when we do ask for wisdom. God said, “I’ll freely give it to you.” Meaning, we do not have to do any negotiating, strategizing, backflips, begging, or boxing to ask a question. He will still look at you as His beloved child. I love how God provides a way of escape when that pressure of having to know it all comes on us. Again, He tells us to simply, ASK.
How do I ask, you may say? Well, you can ask through prayer, meditating on His Word, and seeking wise counsel from like-minded friends and associates.
How can discernment help you become more positively aware of the people around you?
Have you ever been around a friend or a family member and noticed how good they are in helping other people overcome certain obstacles in their lives? Maybe it’s one of your bragging points about them when you introduce them to other people. However, if you were experiencing a similar obstacle and needed help, that friend or family member would be among the last people you’d ask for help. Certainly, you’d probably share it with them but not with an expectation that they could actually help you. It’s not because you are too proud or embarrassed to ask. It just simply does not come to your mind. That is known as the spirit of familiarity.
Avoid the spirit of familiarity. We can be so accustomed to seeing our friends in a casual setting that we often forget they are equipped with gifts to also help us. We see it throughout the Bible where whole communities of people could not get their prayers answered because they let familiarity take over where God was presenting a spiritual solution through that person. For instance, Naaman and his leprosy, or Jesus in the synagogue or Jesus in his hometown. The people would say, “Oh that’s just Jesus, the carpenter’s son,” not realizing that He was the carpenter’s son called/gifted to save the world.
It’s important to discern the spiritual gifts in the people around you. We often admire the gifted people around us, especially when we see them use their gifts to help other people. Remember those gifts are there for you, too.
What are some simple steps anyone can take to seek wisdom and then use it to wisely discern?
Because choosing wisdom is such a game changer, we sometimes expect it to come with major demonstrations like bells, whistles, spotlights, or even heavenly singing. Honestly, it can feel like that when wisdom shows up. However, I’d like you to remember that more often wisdom will come in the simple form of insight, a concept, idea, possibly a conviction or a knowing, something you’ve always known but now you have the courage to execute on it.
Here are a few steps to help us receive the wisdom God has waiting for us:
- The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom..
- Go to Him first with all of your tasks, trials and temptations
- Value wisdom. (Proverbs 2)
- Understand that Wisdom requires change
- It is instruction – Albert Einstein is credited with the saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” Wisdom will require you to do something different.
- Establish the Word concerning wisdom.
- What does God say about it? Look up the scriptures. The Book of Proverbs is the best place to start.
- Set some time aside to focus on the situation.
- Quiet yourself. Avoid distractions as you are asking for wisdom to make it easier to hear Him more clearly.
- Practice His presence. (take the time to ask God, specifically for wisdom)
- Ask in faith.
The principal key on how to use wisdom and discernment is to look to Jesus and His Word, the Bible. In Him is hidden all the treasure of wisdom and knowledge.
Here is one of my prayers for wisdom and discernment. You are welcome to use it:
“Lord, give me the wisdom to understand this situation and show me how to walk it out. Please give me the discernment to recognize the good steps to take and the insight of when to execute on it. In Jesus Name, amen!”
LaDonna Slade has over 25 years management consulting experience in the technology, training and change management industries. She also has experience in the entrepreneurial space, through her business, Velvet Leaf. She is a speaker and a coach. She works with solopreneurs, small businesses and non-profits to organize their businesses to be more productive and profitable.
Over the past two years, LaDonna has been involved in her passion project called, ‘Traction In Heels’. She produces pop-up empowerment events to creatively help women take that next step towards their dreams and goals. (www.tractioninheels.com).
To get more of the 411 on LaDonna checkout: www.411-4women.com.