Wisdom at Work
The Gospel in Work Clothes
“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.”
It’s easy to think about your faith and your work as two parallel tracks. After all, if you’re not in agriculture, there aren’t many stories about the workplace in the Bible. During the day, you try to be a great leader or a great employee, and in the mornings when you read your Bible and on Sundays when you go to church, you try to become a better Christian.
If you read closely, though, the Bible talks about work all the time. In fact, every word of the Bible is meant to be applied to all of life, not just parts of it. The key is knowing what to look for. While it might be nice to get some practical career advice in one of Paul’s letters or one of Jesus’ parables, this is aiming too low. The goal of Scripture is complete transformation. Change the man and he’ll change everything around him. That includes faith and work, home and the office, Monday through Sunday.
Proverbs has a word for this kind of change: wisdom. Today when we hear the word wisdom we think of sages and gurus. Wisdom has become an exclusive, almost mystical quality, but in Proverbs, wisdom is for everyone. In chapter 1, wisdom is the first character introduced, and she’s offering her advice to all: “Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the market she raises her voice.” Chapter 2 begins with the words of a father to his son, and he explains the fruit of wisdom: “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
Proverbs is the gospel in work clothes. It’s meant to be taken out into the marketplace and the office, to the halls of power, and the centers of industry. It is pleasant to the soul (2:10), guards against deception (2:12), and points the way to the good life (2:20). Simply put, wisdom is the “ability to navigate life.”
Growing in wisdom takes work. It’s not something that comes quickly but it lasts for a lifetime. Right after he became king, the Lord came to Solomon and asked him a stunning question: Ask for anything you want I will give it to you. What would you like?
Can you imagine what he must have been thinking? If the God of the universe said you could ask for anything, what would you request? Solomon understood this simple phrase in Proverbs 4:7 and he passed it on to us: “Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get understanding.” It’s shortsighted to ask for money or military prowess if you don’t know how to use them. It’s foolish to ask for a long life if you don’t know how to spend it. Solomon knew that anything he asked for would fall short without wisdom, so that’s what he asked for.
God gave him wisdom and everything else followed. Solomon wasn’t just the wisest man who ever lived, he was one of the wealthiest and most powerful kings who ever lived. Proberbs is his book of wisdom. It’s the account of what it looks like to live a godly life in every area. It’s an invitation to pursue a life of wisdom, to navigate life, and to live the way God intended.
How do you bring your work and your faith together around the wisdom of God?
Read a chapter of Proverbs every morning. One of great things about the book of Proverbs is its divided into 31 chapters, so if you read the chapter that corresponds to the date, you’ll always know where to begin. Read a chapter every day for a couple of months and you’ll begin to have these phrases come to mind in all kinds of different circumstances. Because there are so many different topics, you’ll find that you’re applying them to every piece of your life.
Ask God for opportunities to apply what you’re reading. In James, God promises to give wisdom to those who ask (James 1:5-8). Proverbs is no different; “those who seek me diligently find me” (8:17). As you read each morning, ask God to help you see the situation you’re going to be in that day where you have a choice between living his way and living your own way. Then ask for the strength and the courage to make the right choice. As you have these conversations with God, you’ll become more sensitive to how he’s working, guiding, strengthening, and answering your prayers.
Don’t keep it to yourself. When you take the opportunity to put Proverbs into practice tell someone about it. It’s an easy way to talk about your faith and you never know when God will speak through you to someone else.
Our faith and work converge around wisdom. Remember this, seek wisdom, and your eyes will open to opportunities every day to live out your faith in the office. God wants all of us, and when he transforms us, he’ll use us to transform everything around us.
Cole Feix is the founder and president of So We Speak