Worldly vs Godly Wisdom
And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. Acts 7:9-10 (ESV)
And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds. Acts 7:1, 22 (ESV)
There are two sources of wisdom for Kingdom leaders: wisdom that comes from the world and wisdom that comes from above. In Stephen’s testimony before his accusers, he distinguishes between these two as illustrated in the life and leadership of Joseph and Moses.
Joseph was given wisdom and favor from God when he was brought before Pharaoh and interpreted his dreams. Having explained that the dreams meant 7 years of plentiful harvests followed by 7 years of drought, he volunteered a solution. He suggested constructing huge granaries to store the surplus grain during the first years in order to feed the hungry during the years of famine that would follow.
Pharaoh and his counselors recognized the wisdom of this plan and Joseph was elevated to a position of number two in Egypt. He executed the building, gathering, storing, and eventually, the distribution of the grain in the years of famine. All of this came from the godly wisdom that was given to Joseph as the Lord sought to accomplish His purposes in and through Him.
Years later Moses was raised in Pharaoh’s court, having been adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter when she rescued him from the River Nile. He was ‘instructed’ in all of the wisdom that the Egyptian culture had to offer. He got the best education and training possible during his day. But, we note that he was not ready to lead God’s people yet.
He was powerful in speech and deed according to Stephen. But his training, education and natural ability did not make him qualified to lead God’s people out of Egypt. He tried on his own strength and failed, eventually ending up in Midian caring for sheep for his new father-in-law Jethro.
Now, one can imagine that the sheep management system implemented by Moses was quite the setup, given all of his background. But, it was simply a training program for God to humble him and shape him into the man God could eventually use to lead over 2 million of His people out of bondage. Forty more years of managing sheep would bring Moses to the point where he was now ready to meet God in the burning bush.
Kingdom leaders need wisdom to lead. And worldly wisdom based upon collective wisdom can have some advantages. But, it will not be enough to fulfill our God-given missions. We will need godly wisdom, given to us from Him, to see His work accomplished in His ways.
Are you trusting in the world’s wisdom only or are you pleading with God to give you His wisdom as you lead out in the task He has called you to?