The Book of Proverbs is convinced that wisdom is the most important possession in the world—more valuable than gold and silver (16:16). But what is it? And, how do we obtain it and use it well? The questions are easy to frame but harder to answer.
Using 21st century language, Biblical wisdom is both a process and a product. That is, there is a way to go about getting it and a way to identify it when you get it. According to Proverbs, wisdom results from a lifelong diligent quest: “if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will…find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom” (2:4-6). Perhaps the most important companion on your wisdom quest is listening. Sounds simple, but those who listen well are few. Proverbs stresses the centrality of listening— to God, to instruction, to others, to life. Proverbs says: “Wisdom calls aloud in the street” (1:20). Will we hear it in our families? In our family businesses?
But Biblical wisdom is also a product, that is, something that can ultimately be crystallized in insights and practiced in action. The wise person will know how to say the right thing and live the way of justice. Wisdom brings with it two hugely important concepts: understanding and discretion (2:9,11). Wisdom engages both thought and action, ideas and living. We need this kind of wisdom, as individuals, families and family businesses.