Mining Wisdom from Life

©Scott E. Shaum 2015

Life Experience Does not Automatically Equate Wisdom
We all have many life experiences. However, going from life experience to life experience does not automatically make one wise. The book of Proverbs tells us that, looking through the grid of Scripture, reflecting on life experiences is a major source of growing in wisdom.

When our lives are crammed full of movement and activity, we miss out on much of what we experience. In Proverbs 1:20-23 wisdom is anthropomorphized as a woman who is standing on the busy street corner of life offering her gift. Yet the simpletons scurry on by to the next activity. If one will just stop and consider, wisdom can be gained. We have sight, but we often do not see well. We hear, but we do not listen.

Wisdom is Yet Another Loss Due to Busyness
Let me give you an example. A few years back I was in on the writing of a survey for field leaders. One of the questions was how much time leaders spent reflecting on crucial issues they are facing? The number was not surprising. Yet it was alarming. It was somewhere near nil. They were simply too busy to take the time to reflect on the crucial elements before them. The ability to make wise choices is lost due in part, to constant, compulsive busyness.

Reflection is a Wise Practice
Taking time regularly – at least weekly – to ponder what we have seen, heard, felt, read, and experienced is a wise practice. Our everyday mundane life is a veritable gold mine of wisdom. But we must mine the wisdom out of life.  How much time do you take to reflect? Who in your life helps you learn from life?  In your shepherding of others, how are you guiding others to reflect upon their life? Are you coaching people in this wise practice?

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Photo: ©Scott E. Shaum 2015

Reflection is a Simple Practice
Consider a time of the week where you might be able to spend a good chunk of time, 2-4 hours, alone. It can be helpful to get away from your normal environment, maybe head to a coffee shop or park. I like to take time during my early Sabbath morning to reflect.

How do you process well? Walking? Writing? Laying on your back pondering toward the heavens? Doing something with you hands like gardening, cooking, or woodworking? These are all viable environs for reflecting. Stillness is best though. Other than time and removal of stimulus (i.e. put that phone and email away), a key ingredient is good questions. I have collected a list of them over the years. Here is a sample. Be a collector of good questions.

Reflective Questions:
How have you experienced God lately?
How are you responding to God’s initiative?
What or who are you avoiding? Why? How might you lean in?
Has anyone spoken something significant to you recently that caught your attention?
Who do you need to spend time with? How might you do that?
What is God inviting you to?
What have been your primary emotions this week?
What have you found yourself praying?

Shepherds: Be a promoter of personal reflection. Most people simply need permission, some simple skill coaching, and a list of questions. Follow up with them to find out what they have been learning. Promoting this practice is one way to encourage life-long learning.

Anyone have some good reflective questions or practices to share?  Thanks for commenting.

This entry was posted in Living Wisely, Personal Vitality, Shepherding Well, Spiritual Vitality and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Mining Wisdom from Life

  1. Pingback: An Annual Season of Renewal | Tending Scattered Wool

  2. Nan Miller says:

    Thank you for these questions. I desire to be a collector of good questions and would like to see any replies that you receive. I plan on using these with a staff that I shepherd.


    • Scott S says:

      Nan, Thank you so much for your question. I would love to hear any other questions you extend to those you shepherd. If I receive anymore, they will be posted here in comments. Thank you. And blessings as you shepherd others. SS


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