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Henry Brinton, June 26 2021

Summer Study 1: Daily Wisdom

June 26

Psalm 25:4-5

Waiting for Wisdom

When have you had to wait for insight and understanding?

During my last semester of divinity school, I was in search of a church to call me as a pastor. As I looked at the descriptions of a number of congregations, I saw that they were searching for a minister with at least ten years of experience.

“What do these pastors know that I don’t know?” I asked myself. “I am about to receive a Master of Divinity degree! I’ve worked for a full year as a pastor-in-training! I have completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education! I am ready for any challenge!”

Fortunately, I was called to serve as an associate pastor at a large congregation, and I quickly discovered how much I didn’t know. As I faced church budgets, staffing issues, capital campaigns, and dysfunctional family relationships, I realized that I had much to learn about the life of the church and its people. In the years that followed, I gained a great deal of wisdom about being an effective pastor.

“Make your ways known to me, Lord; teach me your paths” (Psalm 25:4). The writer of the psalm knows that the ways of God are revealed over time, and we learn them as we walk a particular path. Yes, there is value to taking classes and reading books, but real insight and understanding comes from experience. Church budgets are crafted in long meetings with faithful parishioners. Staffing issues are resolved when colleagues talk honestly and respectfully about difficult topics. Successful capital campaigns require consultation with financial experts. And the counseling of people in dysfunctional family relationships requires compassion and insight that is gained best from experience.

After 35 years of ministry, I look back with gratitude on the people who have made God’s ways known to me. We have walked the path of Christian life together and have discovered God’s truth over time. My best insights have come from the people who have approached the challenges of life with a willingness to trust God in every situation. “Lead me in your truth,” they say to God, “teach it to me—because you are the God who saves me. I put my hope in you all day long” (verse 5).

I remember the youth group advisors who taught me how to have fun with middle school students. The church members from Ghana who revealed the presence of the Holy Spirit in joyful worship. The church elder who lost his father at a young age and then cared for me after the death of my dad. The colleagues who have offered me support but also held me accountable, making me a better pastor than I could ever be on my own.

Yes, I thought I knew it all when I received a call to ministry. But the truth is that I had to wait for wisdom, and it has come to me as I have walked God’s path alongside numerous people of faith.  

 God, thank you for making your ways known to us, as we walk faithfully together. Amen.

Written by

Henry Brinton


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