Be Wise​—Seek “Skillful Direction”

Life has been compared to a voyage. However, human wisdom has often proved to be of limited value in helping people to navigate through life successfully. Many have experienced shipwreck in the stormy waters of life. (Ps. 107:23, 27) Why is that metaphor fitting?

In ancient times, traveling by sea was a challenge that required experience. It was an art usually learned at the feet of longtime sailors, perhaps a helmsman. (Acts 27:9-11) Many ancient paintings emphasize the importance of the helmsman’s role by portraying him as being larger than others. To venture out into the open sea, seafarers learned about stars, winds, and other points of reference. The Bible describes certain seamen as being “skilled,” using a term that can mean “wise.”​—Ezek. 27:8; ftn.

Navigating life’s problems today can seem as arduous as going to sea in ancient times. What can help us?

HOW CAN WE ATTAIN “SKILLFUL DIRECTION”?

Having in mind the metaphor of life being like a voyage, consider this Biblical truth: “A wise person will listen and take in more instruction, and a man of understanding is the one who acquires skillful direction.” (Prov. 1:5, 6) The Hebrew term rendered “skillful direction” can describe the actions of the commander of an ancient ship. It implies the ability to guide and direct with skill.

Though it calls for effort, we can acquire “skillful direction” and learn to “sail” successfully on the sea of life. As Proverbs indicates, we have to let “wisdom,” “understanding,” and “insight” work together. (Prov. 1:2-6; 2:1-9) And we cannot neglect seeking divine guidance, for even the wicked may know how to ‘steer’ for unjust ends.​—Prov. 12:5.

It is vital, then, that we be diligent students of God’s Word. By such study, we can take in precious information about Jehovah and the one who best reflects Him, Jesus Christ. (John 14:9) We receive much wise counsel at Christian meetings. In addition, we can draw on the experience of others, including our parents.​—Prov. 23:22.

ANTICIPATE AND PLAN

“Skillful direction” is especially important when we find ourselves in troubled waters, figuratively speaking. Doubts regarding what action to take in a complex situation could paralyze us, with catastrophic results.​—Jas. 1:5, 6.

 Interestingly, the term rendered “skillful direction” is also used with reference to warfare. We read: “By skillful direction [“by skillful strategy,” The Revised English Bible] you will carry on your war, and in the multitude of counselors there is salvation.”​—Prov. 20:18; 24:6.

Like a strategist organizing a battle, we do well to anticipate potential dangers to our spirituality. (Prov. 22:3) For example, you may have to decide whether to accept a new job or a promotion at work. You would logically consider pay, travel time to and from work, and other details. However, there are other points to keep in mind: Will the type of work be compatible with Bible principles? How might the hours, such as with shift work, affect my Christian activities?​—Luke 14:28-30.

Loretta, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, had a good job at a food-preparation company. When the company was to relocate, Loretta was offered an important position at the new place: “It’s the chance of a lifetime,” the directors told her. “We’ve already found out that there’s a Kingdom Hall there.” But Loretta wanted to simplify her life to serve the Creator more fully. She saw that the new post would leave her less time for Christian activities. Hence, she submitted her resignation, though the director confided that she was the only employee whom they really wanted to keep. Loretta, who now has been a regular pioneer for some 20 years, is convinced that the good results obtained were directly related to her having planned with “skillful direction,” yes, in harmony with the advice found in God’s Word. She strengthened her relationship with Jehovah and has had the privilege of helping several to accept Bible truth.

“Skillful direction” is certainly needed in the family. Raising children is a long-term job, and the choices made in spiritual or material areas affect the future of all in the family. (Prov. 22:6) Christian parents, for example, might ask themselves: ‘By our conversations and example, are we teaching our children spiritual values that will help them to cope wisely with adult life? Is our lifestyle helping them to understand how to be content with a simple life and to focus on their Christian ministry?’​—1 Tim. 6:6-10, 18, 19.

True success is not determined by the material or social goals that those in the world often pursue. King Solomon understood this. He was inspired to write: “It will turn out well with those fearing the true God, because they were in fear of him.” (Eccl. 8:12) That certainly bears out the wisdom of seeking “skillful direction” based on and in harmony with God’s Word.​—2 Tim. 3:16, 17.

[Picture on page 30]

To emphasize their role, pilots were often portrayed larger than other sailors

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