As I listened to the small group of leaders wrestle with an issue, I was fascinated by the data points they used to make their decision.
Each person passionately shared their opinion on what was the best path forward. However, was completely lacking was any interest or desire to seek wisdom from any source other than themselves.
“Be a wisdom seeker rather than an assumption maker.” This was the advice one of my earliest mentors shared with me. While there is merit in ‘going with your gut’, in my experience one’s ‘gut’ can be influenced by a lot of assumptions. I’ve learned that bringing a keen sense of curiosity combined with a dose of humility to a decision-making process allows wisdom to flourish.
‘Wisdom seeking’ is the discipline of asking for perspective from elders, those who have faced similar decisions and are further down the road with experience and reflection. It requires the discipline of doing the research to learn the facts—data that is collected because of a desire to understand rather than the desire to be right. And finally it means honestly checking our biases and our assumptions.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry often talks about Jesus of Nazareth. He uses this frame intentionally to diﬀerentiate between the Jesus in popular culture, and the Jesus of the Gospels. The former is based on projections and biases, and the latter is readily available through a deep dive into the Gospels.
I am grateful for the advice from my early mentor because his wisdom made it possible for me to heed these additional words of wisdom:
Oh Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds, And whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me!
I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset
my spirit may come to you without shame.~ Chief Yellow Lark, Lakota Tribe