A Wise and Discerning Heart

Sometimes I wish I had just majored in Business Administration from the beginning.  I was determined to get that English degree despite the caution of people who meant well.  I often heard: “Are you really sure you want to major in English?  Where will that take you in the future?  Is there any guarantee of a job?”  But I didn’t take these words seriously; I wanted to write, and write I did!  I published three books, but after each release I hit a roadblock of inexperience; I just didn’t know how to promote my work and create enough buzz to keep people interested.  More than once between 2007 and today I have wondered why I didn’t heed the advice of others and majored in something more lucrative— like Business Administration, for example. 

More and more, I am wishing I could turn back time and go for more training in business management or even marketing.  My English degree has served me well, but with writing, I never felt I needed formal training; everything I know about writing a novel was learned on my own from experience with very little expertise gained in the classroom.  I wonder why I just didn’t listen to reason back then.

I am, however, glad I completed my Master’s in Ministry Leadership; in many ways, the degree has similar components of Organizational Development or Organizational Leadership but with a Christian ministries focus.  With this degree, I have managed to obtain employment at my local church and have found myself catapulted into leadership at the Wisconsin Youth Leadership Forum for high school students with disabilities.

Three years ago, a gentleman in leadership at the forum asked me to step up to the plate in a huge way.  To this day, I still question if he had any idea what he was signing up for in training me to take over as director.  I had never even been a counselor at this forum/ summer camp; I had only been a volunteer who did odd jobs during the week.  But for some reason, still unknown to me, he saw something in me. 

Now I stand in leadership of a newly formed nonprofit organization that barely has its feet on the ground.  I have often voiced the words: “I don’t know what to do” or “I can’t do that; I’m just a kid.”  I may be twenty-eight years old, but I feel like a teenager who has just left home in a new car with no GPS or map to give direction.  I feel like I am drowning in a sea of endless paperwork and millions of questions about the future of our organization.  Sometimes, it feels like everyone is looking to me for answers.

Lately, I have been reminded of the passage in 1 Kings 3 where Solomon asks the Lord for wisdom.  A friend from church echoed the themes from this section of Scripture just last Sunday when she thanked me for sharing my newest composition “Letting Go.”  After she confided in me about some of her doubts and fears, I asked her if there was any way I could pray for her.  She answered simply: “Just pray that God will give me wisdom.”

With new purpose, I sought out the verses from 1 Kings 3 and read with eagerness Solomon’s prayer which had just been echoed in my friend’s request:

“Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number.  So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor —so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” Then Solomon awoke —and he realized it had been a dream” (1 Kings 3:7-15). 

I decided that my prayer would be one for wisdom as well, for I had no idea how I could possibly lead an organization into the unknown without God paving the way for me.  It is never my intent to trivialize Scripture or cheapen it, but I felt there would be no better way to present my request for wisdom to Him than by literally echoing Solomon’s prayer.  So in closing, I offer up my paraphrase of Solomon’s request to God.  I am not expecting riches or honor as was given to Solomon in the end, but I only pray that I will be able to lead Wisconsin Youth Leadership Forum, Inc. with the best of character and integrity.   

“Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant director of Youth Leadership Forum, Inc. in place of those who have led and directed before me. But I am only a kid and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the delegates, counselors, facilitators, and Board of Directors— a great group of people, too numerous to count or number.  So give your servant a discerning heart to lead these people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to lead this great group of people?”

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