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.
By sound judgment we mean “efficient wisdom,”1 wisdom that leads to practical application and success in problem-solving. “Sound judgment is based on the righteous character of God’s rule. The upright have sound wisdom hidden in them (Prov 2:7).”2 Sound judgment is closely linked to discernment—the ability to see strategically, discover root issues, and determine cause-and-effect relationships. Note that Solomon prayed for a “discerning heart.” This relates to a wise leader’s ability to identify leverage points that will bring about change in the best way possible and to recognize a way forward into the unknown future. It speaks of resourcefulness and competence.
The sound judgment of a leader is often seen in retrospect rather than in the moment. As Jesus reminds us, “Wisdom is justified by all her children” (Luke 7:35). The results of a decided course of action demonstrate whether that decision was a sound judgment. The path is sometimes counterintuitive and countercultural. It takes great courage for a leader to stand for God’s ways rather than compromising and aligning with the world’s ways.
Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” The world’s ways are often logical, common, politically correct, seemingly easier to follow, and may even yield short-term wins. But the world’s ways result in long-term loss. In contrast, God’s ways are often illogical (counterintuitive from a human perspective) and uncommon. Because so few people choose to follow them, God’s ways are countercultural and seemingly difficult to follow. And just because something is uncommon or difficult does not necessarily mean that it must be God’s plan. Here again, sound judgment can discern the wise way, not just any way forward.
Leaders with sound judgment differentiate between the ways of the world and the ways of God. They choose to follow the ways of God rather than conform to the normal patterns of the world.
For more thoughts on leading with Kingdom wisdom: Growing Kingdom Wisdom