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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

5 Characteristics of Someone Who is Wise

Photo: Jo Jakeman
I take on this topic in the spirit in which it was intended in the Name 5 game, for which this series is based. The question assumes everybody should be able to name 5 characteristics of someone who is wise – it doesn’t automatically assume the person answering the question is wise.

My answers come from observations of people like my grandfather and one of my former teachers, whom I perceive to be wise.

What exactly is wisdom?

To possess wisdom, you must have knowledge, but possessing knowledge does not necessarily lead to wisdom. Wisdom is knowing how to apply knowledge to a specific situation. Wisdom is knowledge plus experience plus intuition (not in a mystical sort of way, but in a practical sort of way – like a wise grandfather who offers to match every dollar his grandson saves toward a car, knowing his grandson will learn the value of saving). 

On to the 5 characteristics of someone who is wise ...

1. Well rounded. He isn’t dependent on one source or one point of view because he knows human nature is to shade the truth when it doesn’t line up with an agenda. After hearing all sides, he lives out what he has learned and is able to make corrections and adjustments as he goes.

2. Slow to speak, quick to listen. A wise person doesn't care about looking wise. He just wants to help. I once had a Sunday school teacher listen to all of my theological concerns while sitting on his living room couch before he gave me any input. When I finished speaking, his input was short, it spoke specifically to my situation and it changed everything for me.

3. Patience. A wise person is not in a rush unless a true crisis warrants him to be in one, and even then, he usually makes the right choice because has practiced enough patience in the past to know what to do when the pressure is on.

4. Mindful of his tone. My grandfather rarely raised his voice with people who needed his advice whether they knew it or not. Instead, he sat down at a table with them and listened. He asked questions. Not accusatory questions, but gentle questions that disarmed people. In so doing, he gently led people to the right answer for their exact predicament.

5. Humility. A wise person doesn’t talk down to people because he understands the bent of human nature and that bent includes him. Instead, he puts his arm around someone and says, “I’ve been there. Here’s what finally worked for me.”

Add to the list in the comment section ...


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