How to Become Wise



Today, I’m talking to you about wisdom. Just a few days after becoming a follower of Christ, I came across this passage from 2 Chronicles 1:7-10:

“That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him: ‘Ask. What should I give you?’

And Solomon said to God: ‘You have shown great and faithful love to my father David, and You have made me king in his place. Lord God, let Your promise to my father David now come true. For You have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth. Now grant me wisdom and knowledge so that I may lead these people, for who can judge this great people of Yours?'”

When I read that as a new believer, it blew my mind. I had been making bad decisions all my life, on my own. I had been trying to run my own life and I was failing at it.

But then it hit me—that’s what I want! I want to be a Man of Wisdom. I don’t want to be foolish man anymore—that hasn’t gotten me anywhere.

And ever since that day, God has been blessing me with insight and understanding about His Word. He’s allowed me to apply His Wisdom and Truth rightly to my life, my career, my ministry, and my family. And He continually invites me to become more wise.

This is what I’ve learned:

How to Become Wise

  1. Time in the Word of God
  2. Time with the wise people around us
  3. Time for reflection
  4. Time with wise minds of all generations (mostly through reading)

Here’s your challenge:

  1. If you are already engaged in the Word of God, continue to do that. If not, get yourself a free Bible and just start reading from the Gospel of John.
  2. Google the “greatest books of all time” and start reading about the wise men and women you would like to learn more about.


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Hey this is Todd Phillips, your online pastor and personal life coach and I’m talking today about WISDOM. Wouldn’t you like to be more wise? And how do we become more wise?

Well this is one of the first questions I asked when I became a follower of Jesus when I was 24 years old. I knew I’d made a lot of mistakes in my life and maybe you can relate to this—you know I’ve made a lot of mistakes into the age of 24. I’d failed, you know put together a pretty good resume of mess ups right, and I gave my life to Jesus, I came to understand what a relationship with God was through Jesus Christ and I said, “You know what? I’m in.”

And the intimacy that I began to develop with God through that process was pretty overwhelming, pretty powerful and in just a wonderful way and in that process I began to read the Bible just several days after I became a follower of Christ and I came across a passage in the Old Testament of the Bible about King Solomon and I’m going to tell you that story in just a minute but it was really profound because Solomon did some great things for God and then God comes to Solomon and asks Solomon, “Whatever you want, I’ll give it to you.”

I want you to think about this—what if God, if he’s real right—I know He is but maybe you don’t, maybe you’re just checking out the claims of Christ or you’re wondering if God’s real and if He is does he want to know you personally?

I get those questions, but just go with me on this—if He’s real, if He came to you and said, “Anything you want, I’ll give you.” What would your answer be? I mean I know that’s a big question, but oh my gosh right, I mean would you ask for a million dollars? Would you ask for a big house? Would you ask for world peace?

I mean, you know this question has been ongoing, you know if a magic genie or God or whoever asks you what do you want, what would you say? Well that’s exactly what God did with Solomon.

Solomon had had been an incredible servant to God and God was saying “Whatever you want, you get,” and I want you to be thinking about that, you know, what would you say as we look through this story and find out what Solomon asked for?

So I want to read this to you right now:

“That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, ‘Ask. What should I give you?’ [He’s just saying, look whatever you want you got.] And Solomon said to God: ‘You have shown great and faithful love to my father David and you’ve made me king in his place. Lord God, let Your promise to my father David now come true. For You made me king over a people as numerous as the dust in the earth. Now grant me, [here it is—this is what he wants] now grant me wisdom and knowledge so that I may lead these people, for who can judge this great people of Yours [emphasis added]?'”

Now before we go any further in the story, I want you to get a grip on this, right—he didn’t ask for wealth, he didn’t ask for popularity, he didn’t ask for a big house, he didn’t ask to the largest kingdom, he said “Look, give me wisdom and knowledge so I can lead the people that you placed under me.”

Well, are you kidding? I mean come on, so the guy’s asking for wisdom. Now whether we would have asked for that or not, I want you to see what happens next. So he says, “God, you know what, of all the things I could ask for I want wisdom and knowledge.”

So God says back to Solomon—this is 2nd Chronicles, Chapter 1, verse 11—God said to Solomon,

“Because this was in your heart, and you have not requested riches, wealth, or glory, or for the life of those who hate you, and you have not even requested long life, but you have requested for yourself wisdom and knowledge that you may judge My people over whom I have made you King, wisdom and knowledge are given to you.”

So it gives him exactly what he wants. But it gets better. God says to Solomon,

“I will also give you [listen to this] riches and wealth and glory, such that it is not like this for any kings who were before you and will not be for any then.”

Look here’s the deal: Solomon asked for wisdom. He blows off all that other stuff that many of us, right, would be asking for, and he says, “Look, just give me wisdom.” And God hooks him up with wisdom and then says, “You know what, since you didn’t ask for that other stuff, I’m going to give you wisdom and here’s everything else.”

Man, that just blows my mind. You know, I’ve read that as a brand new believer and said, “You know what, God”—and it was just it was something that is pierced my heart—and I said, “God, look, I’ve been making bad decisions all my life on my own, I’ve been trying to run my own life and I’ve been failing at it. And your Bible tells me that if You run my life, right, you’re batting a thousand on that. You can run this thing better than me, so take it.”

And then he leads me to this passage and it shows me that of all the things that Solomon, this great king of the Old Testament, could do or could ask for you ask for, he asked for wisdom. And so, just in that moment when I read this passage, I said, “You know what God, that’s what I want to be. I’m days into my experience with You, I just started our relationship with you, but I want to be a Man of Wisdom. I don’t want to be a foolish man anymore. That’s not gotten me anywhere in my life. I want to be a man of wisdom.”

And what’s amazing about that is that ever since that day that I asked that, God has been blessing me with insight and understanding about His Word. He’s allowed me to apply that many times rightly to my life, in my career, and ministry, and my family, and in my own personal time with Him, in my ability to impact others. That all comes from God.

You know, the Bible goes on to say in another place in the Bible, it says this: “The fear of the Lord, the respect for God, is the beginning of wisdom.” And so I learned that for whatever reason, God shared that with me early on. And I’ve been pursuing wisdom ever since, so that I could—just like Solomon, right—I’m not comparing myself to him, or you, or anyone else, I’m just saying for me, for me to be able to serve God well, I needed to be a man of wisdom. That’s what the Bible told me and that’s what I asked for.

So what I want to talk about today—if that pierces your heart, if that gets you to think in a certain way, I want you to be thinking, I want you to be thinking about this: how do we become more wise?

How can I take the things I’m about to share with you and apply them rightly to my life? How can I, with wisdom, apply these things?

4 Ways to Become More Wise

  1. Time in the Word of God

And so number one is—whether you believe in God or not—and this is an important distinction, I want you to hear this. You might assume that the first thing I say and this is it, time in the Word of God will bring wisdom, right. And now you may be thinking right now, “Well I don’t believe in God. You know, I just found you on Facebook, or online, or I’m on your blog, and I don’t believe in God.”

Well, whether you believe in God or not, I want you to consider this—the Bible is the best-selling book of all time. Some of the greatest artists, and scientists, and kings and queens, and leaders of nations, have all said that the Bible was the most profound book they ever read.

Now, whether you believe in God or not, wouldn’t it make sense, right, of all the books that are available in this world that have been written throughout history, that the best-selling book of all time, that kings and rulers, scientists and the greatest artists of all of history, have said was the most profound book.

Maybe it’s something you ought to look at, right. I’m not saying it’s the only book you read. I’m just saying why not read some of it? So as we think about this, one of the greatest opportunities to gain wisdom is to simply read the Word of God—to engage in the Word. Not just listen under someone else’s teaching like you’re even doing right now, but opening the Bible for yourself and getting inside the Word of God and reading the passages, the words that are on the page.

Because the Bible tells us, God tells us through the Bible, that the words on the page of the Bible are eternal. It’s an eternal wellspring of wisdom. Right, we gain wisdom by engaging with the Word of God. So if you’ve never opened the Bible before in your entire life, I just encourage you, man. There’s a lot of free Bibles around. You can go into any church anywhere in the town that you live in right now, and say “Can I have a free bible?” And they will hook you up.

If they don’t, email me and let me know—I’ll send you a free bible. But check them out first. Let them know that you want a free bible and begin to read the Word of God. So that’s the number one way to gain wisdom.

  1. Time with Wise People Around Us

Number two—time with wise people. Now I can’t spend enough time on this, but I only have a limited time so just kind of hang with me in the next few minutes about this. This is one of the biggest things that I think we miss out on in our culture. And I think it’s because of social media and the disconnect that we have in our culture right now because of electronics and social media. And we feel we are connected on Facebook or on Twitter Instagram, but we’re not in fact—that’s not a real relationship, right.

It’s face-to-face, one-on-one, developing and interacting in physical contact with one another, sharing our emotions through our facial expressions and engaging with one another in just that way. But let me talk about this—this is time with wise people. This is this is finding people who can act in some sense as mentors for you.

But if that word seems too much right now, these are just people that are further along in life that you can learn from. It’s really that simple. They’ve gone through the experiences you’ve gone through, maybe they failed the same way you failed and they’ve come out on the other side better and stronger and wiser, right.

And you can learn from them so that your learning curve to wisdom, the length of time it takes you to get wise in a given area, can be shorter. You can shorten your learning curve by just learning from wise people.

I want you to think about this for a moment: who are the wisest people you know? Not the wisest people you read about or see on TV, but who are the wisest people you know?

Is it your father? Is it your mother? Is it a coworker? Is it someone who works down in your organization who actually reports to you? Who is the wisest person you know?

And this is what I would challenge you with—number one, if you can think of that person right now, if that individual’s name and face is in your mind—I want you to think about the opportunity you might have to go have lunch with them. And say, “You know, I know this sounds crazy, but um, can we spend a little time together?”

I mean very informal, but getting yourself in the presence of people who are further along than you are, who have greater experience than you do in life. I’m not talking about older and dumber, I’m talking about older and wiser—people who have made right decisions that you can learn from. So spending time with those kind of people is a real key to gaining wisdom.

Look, I tell my son all the time and my two daughters, “You’re going to be like the people you hang out with the most. The five people you spend the most time with are the people that you’re going to be most like. So if you hang out with idiots, you’re going to be like them, but if you hang out with people of wisdom, you’re going to be like them. They’re going to pull you up, they’re going to bring you closer to wisdom and insight and understanding and experience so that you can live life more fully, right.” So spending time with wise people.

  1. Time for Reflection

Number three—to become wise, we need to have time for reflection. Boy, this is one of the things that most of us miss, right. Besides spending time in the Word of God and finding wise people to spend time with as well, learning from them—it’s just this time for reflection.

We are so wrapped around the axle man, we are so busy all the time, right. We are just never, never stopping to “smell the roses.” But I’ll be more specific than not just enjoying the moment, it’s reflecting on the moment, reflecting on the experiences of the day. Having a time at the end of the day or at the beginning of the day to reflect on the day before—to take your experiences and your challenges and your failures and your successes and reflect on what have I learned from that, actually asking those questions in your own mind and heart—we gain wisdom from that. We gain understanding from that.

But if we don’t allow ourselves to learn through that process, we don’t allow ourselves to reflect on those truths, we’re going to miss out on that wisdom. We’re going to miss out on that insight. Reflection, time for reflection.

Let me tell you how I do this, just very quickly. One of the things I find that’s very, very helpful to me is that after the kids go to bed at nine or ten o’clock at night, sometimes I’ll just go out on the back porch. And I just sit on the back porch in the chair, if it’s a nice breeze outside, and of course I’m a follower of Jesus, so I spend time just praying with God. And asking God to give me wisdom, to help me understand what I’m supposed to learn from both the successes and failures of the day.

And I just allow myself to reflect on all of the meetings throughout the day, the relationships I’ve built, the challenges I’ve had. The failures that I experienced when I fall on my face, well “What can I learn from that?” And I allow myself time to learn and time to gain wisdom.

Boy, it’s huge. You’ve got to give yourself that time. You’ve got to give yourself an opportunity to reflect on that and gain wisdom through it or else you’re missing those opportunities. And here’s the crazy thing, and I don’t want to depress you, but here’s the deal—if we don’t learn from our mistakes and our challenges, if we don’t learn from life the first time, then we’re doomed to repeat it until we do.

Boy, if you hear nothing else from me today, hear that. That we need to understand that as we go through failure, we need to learn from that failure and apply the lessons from that failure rightly to our lives or we’re doomed to fail again. So it’s very, very important in that time of reflection to learn from our experiences throughout the day.

  1. Time with Wise People from All Generations

And then finally, number four. I would say time with great people from ALL generations. This really comes down to reading, and videos, but mostly reading, right.

Because when I talk about all generations, I’m talking about great men and women throughout time—people who have stood the test of time. Their wisdom, their insight, their understanding, the way that they teach and engage us, and allow us to learn from them—great artists again, great scientists, great leaders of corporations and nations, great pastors and theologians who can teach us more about the word of God.

It’s allowing ourselves to gain wisdom by spending time in books, mainly in books, that allow us to learn and to be mentored by the greatest people in history. One of the saddest things I’ve seen in younger generations is that that they’re spending a lot of time on Twitter and Instagram and even Facebook, watching videos and that’s good.

In these little two-minute increments or five-minute increments, and again, that’s okay. But if that’s the only way that they’re learning about the world and about life, they’re missing so much.

There’s huge amounts of pearls of wisdom, just gold, platinum, insights, just freshly cut and beautifully hewn diamonds of truth that come out of these books—if we read them.

But many, not just a few, but many of us, right, whether we’re 20 or 60 or 90, many of us just don’t read regularly. And not only that, when we read, we’re not reading the great people of history, we’re just reading the latest fiction book. And again, those things are OK, but they cannot dominate the moments of our life.

We have to find intentional times where we’re reading from people who made a significant impact on this world. So be thinking about that.

Here’s my challenge for today:

Of all the things we talked about, time in the Word of God, time with wise people that are living today (that we can interact with), time and reflection right, where we’re learning from our mistakes, and also time with great mentors through the great books of history.

But I challenge you to do two things—number one, if you don’t read the Bible, just go pick one up at your local church. Yeah, don’t even pay for it, go to the local church and asked them for a free Bible. They’ll provide that. And just start reading out of the Book of John—just start there.

And if you’re a follower of Jesus and you feel like you’re engaged the word of God, please continue to do that. Or if you’re not, go back in there. Let this be a convicting moment, that that’s the primary place that you gain wisdom. But also I would challenge you with this—find one book. Go on and say “greatest books of all time.” You’d be shocked to see the list of things that come up. And just begin to look at those, see mainly biographies.

What is it? Who is a man or a woman that you want to learn more about—their life, their leadership, their legacy?

And just buy that book online, maybe an e-book, or physically if you like physical books. Just have that shipped to your house and just start reading that book.


[after video]

Hey, it’s Todd. Did you get something out the video you just watched? I really hope you did.

I mean, that’s my passionto give you something that can be applied rightly to your life, right now.

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