"Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding" (2:2).
Wisdom flows out of a right relationship with God (1:7;2:6) and key to any relationship is the skill of listening. Repeatedly wisdom calls for a listening ear and a receptive heart (2:2; 3:1; 4:1, 4; 5:1). When I think of a good listener I think of skills like discipline, self-control, self-denial, a love and respect for the person talking, a hunger to learn, a zeal for knowledge, time, patience, freedom from distrations, effort, focus, intentionality, and humility. Indeed you will find these same qualities as prerequisites to the pursuit of a life of wisdom. Look at the action words used in chapter four used to describe the pursuit of wisdom and her words.
- Hold fast; keep (4)
- Acquire; Don't forget (5)
- Don't forsake; love her (6)
- Prize her (8)
- Accept my sayings (10)
- Take hold; guard her (13)
- Give attention; incline your ear (20)
- Keep them in the midst of your heart (21)
- Look directly ahead (25)
- Gaze fixed straight in front of you (25)
- Watch the path (26)
Is this the kind of focused, aggressive, intentional listening that I'm engaged in on a daily basis? Not only, how am I listening, but who am I listening to? As I've pa roused Proverbs these past few months I've noticed these sources of wisdom.
1. God and His Word (1:7; 2:6-7; 8:22; 9:10; 15:33; 16:20). He is the origin of all wisdom. But he also uses people as His channel to disperse wisdom.
2. Fathers and mothers (1:8,9; 23:22-25)
3. The Humble (11:2)
4. Wife (12:4, 14:1; 18:22; 31:10-11)
5. The Righteous (12:5-6, 26)
6. Counselors (12:15; 13:10; 19:20)
7. The Wise (13:14, 20)
Am I actively engaging, inviting, pursuing, seeking these voices of wisdom? This all requires time, discipline and selfless living. Most importantly, it requires me to listen with my heart.
Here are some practical ways I've sought to engage the voice of wisdom.
- I regularly download sermon podcasts and listen to them while I'm exercising, running, mowing the lawn, etc. My favorites are John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler and James McDonald.
- I have a couple older, wiser men that I meet with on a regular basis to receive their counsel, advice and knowledge. When I first came to my most current ministry position I asked several people who they thought were the wisest and most respected men in the church. I asked two of these men to meet with me on a monthly basis.
- My wife is probably my best source of wisdom. No one knows me and my life circumstances better than her. We love to walk our neighborhood in the evenings and talk about life.
- A couple years ago I began the discipline of writing in a notebook in conjunction with my other spiritual disciplines. You'll notice I didn't use the word "journal" intentionally. I've tried journaling in the past with a very minute measure of success. The majority of us men are not writers. What I'm talking about is engaging God and the Scriptures with pen and paper. This is very broad in scope. Sometimes I write a prayer in response to my time with God. Other times I will write out a verse that has been meaningful. Most frequently I will write down one thought that God has spoken to me from His Word that I need to apply and carry with me that day. Many times I'll incorporate different Bible study techniques, like recording observations, key words, key verses, outlining, summarizing, etc. The bottom line is writing engages my ears, my mind, and my heart.
- Reading books, especially in conjunction with others has been a wonderful source of wisdom. Currently, my son Kyle and I are reading Crazy Love by Fancis Chan. I just began reading Disciplines of a Godly Man by Kent Hughs with a group of men I meet with every other Monday morning at Panera.
- This blog has been a source of wisdom for me as it has encouraged me to dig deeper in Proverbs.
Are you listening to the voice of wisdom? She is a voice that will lead you to God and to the fullness of life He offers (see Proverbs 2:10-21).