“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion.” – Proverbs 8:12
You can become a meditation coach, but you need to know how to pitch it. Why should someone learn how to meditate? For many of the same reasons people seek the expanding field of life coaches, therapists, and counselors. We need to find our center. Life out there is crazy, frenetic, harried, and full of angry chaos. It’s hard to know which way is up, even if you’ve already found it.
What everyone wants, or at least what we want from others, is balance. We need empathy over echo-chambers. But how do you get there? How do you see outside your own blind spots? How do you get to a place where someone can correct you, and you can actually receive it, even just a little bit?
Take an example from this proverb. Prudence and discretion are close cousins. One instance of prudence is knowing when to keep your mouth shut, and then, if you do say something, to say the right something. But how do you teach that? Case examples aren’t a whole lot of help. If Jeremy says something really rude to me, and steps on my toes, assuming we have the right sort of relationship, I can tell him that. I can say: “Hey, that really hurt. Watch where you’re stepping. That wasn’t appropriate.” I can reasonably hope that Jeremy will never say that particular thing in that particular situation again. But if Jeremy is not a prudent person, he will step on someone else’s toes before long, in a different way.
That’s because wisdom undergirds all these other life skills. Wisdom teaches how to live well, and our speech is a big part of that. Wisdom has the ability to string together principles, to be sensitive to situations, to pick up on timing, and personalities. Wisdom knows when to step forward, and when to hang back. Wisdom knows how to pick and choose, and sort through the storm of misinformation that floods our senses. It knows how to pick out threads of truth, while shutting out the bias.
That’s why we find personified wisdom, in this proverb, claiming he hangs out with prudence, knowledge, and discretion. If you spend time with him, he’ll introduce you to these other guys. Wisdom is sort of the ultimate life hack. Do you want your life to be easier, better, balanced, more temperate, more discerning, more sure, and better informed? Instead of pursuing all these other qualities, get wisdom, and you’ll get the rest thrown in. And unfortunately, as we know from experiencing habitually imprudent people, the reverse is also true. Someone who is seriously failing in these virtues is failing because of a lack of wisdom.
The central, foundational value of wisdom is what allows the book of Proverbs to fall out into wide contrasting generalizations, such as the wise man and the fool. The possession of wisdom, or the lack thereof, determines everything that comes after. So how do you get wisdom? It’s by getting the fear of the Lord (Prov 9:10), which means it isn’t exactly like buying a car. It’s a continual pursuit. But God does make the avenues of pursuit clear: the Bible, prayer, church, and the fellowship of wise friends. The trick is remembering that the particular intricacies we’re trying to untangle aren’t solved watching the right video, or finding the right book about that problem, but by going after wisdom.