In Proverbs 9:1 we read, “Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars” (NIV 1984). What are the seven pillars found in the house of wisdom?
We find them listed for us in the previous chapter in Proverbs 8:12,14 (NIV 1984): I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion… Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power. And note how verses 15 and 16 connect wisdom to leadership.
Discretion describes perceptiveness and cautiousness in speech and action—careful consideration of the circumstances and possible consequences of one’s actions and influence.
Discretion includes the ability to anticipate a response during an interaction and choosing words carefully as a result. It does not mean that we avoid conflict but rather that we are aware of possible responses to our words and deeds and are seeking to help, not to harm. Discretion involves emotional intelligence—the ability to monitor how our interaction is impacting all involved on an emotional level.
Jesus reminds us, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matthew 7:6). Not everyone will be receptive to Kingdom truth. We must discern a person’s level of receptivity and share accordingly. We must also ensure that they are wrestling with God’s truth and not stumbling over our method of delivering this truth.
Discretion can be demonstrated by speaking, but it can also be demonstrated by remaining silent. When we do speak, we use discernment, carefully pursuing our desired impact on those around us by our choice of words.
Leaders are often asked for advice and counsel (we’ll address wise counsel in the next chapter). When giving advice, it can be so tempting to tell all we know and have experienced over our entire journey with the Lord. And we can feel so compelled to tell everything now rather than let the process of growth and maturity run its course over time. A wise and discreet person will first ask themselves: What does this person need to hear now? What you don’t say can have more impact that what you do share!
Discretion is foundational to leading with wisdom. It focuses awareness both internally and externally, keeping us conscious of our influence on those around us.
Are you using discretion in your leadership words and actions?
For more thoughts on leading with Kingdom wisdom: Growing Kingdom Wisdom