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Live Well, Live Wisely

by GAIL GOOLSBY WISDOM Biblical conflict resolution Comparison Culture adjustment Feeling known & understood Grace Team unity & dynamics Reflecting God
Live Well, Live Wisely
“Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.”
James 3:13-16
“Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!”
Psalms 90:12

“Of course those teachers have plenty of time to play sports. It isn’t like they are one of us.”

My heart froze at those words, spoken loudly enough for many to hear on the sidelines of the dusty, make-shift volleyball court. Then I felt a rush of anger at the judgment expressed, unfair and so unnecessary.

How could these people, these fellow Christians, speak so harshly of my staff? Aren’t we all on the same side?

The international school where I was principal sponsored the annual event for fun, to provide a respite for expats from the daily grind of living and serving in Kabul, Afghanistan. Several organizations brought teams to join the light-hearted competition.

I had seen the couple who made the accusations at weekly international church services. They clearly believed the way of serving and living cross-culturally required blending in as closely as possible to the local people. Teachers on a guarded compound couldn’t be doing the real work of overseas ministry. 

To run our American K-12, college-prep school, we needed logistical upgrades for our staff and school needs. Still, the members of my team were vetted professional educators who loved the Lord and wanted to make a difference in this war-torn, under-resourced place. 

Was this a wise way to live among non-Christians? To judge how others served overseas?

Many of the expat families came to serve in Kabul because their children could be with them and be well-educated. Repatriating Afghans wanted to continue their children’s Western-standard academics for a bright future and chose to attend our school, along with ambitious local families. 

Our work was different but still part of the Kingdom impact. Even though we could not openly share the Gospel to our majority Muslim and non-Christian students, we were doing our best to demonstrate respect for differences in gender, culture, and religion. We wanted to live wisely and well before their watching eyes to create interest in knowing God.

Closing Prayer
Father God, Help us to see others the way You do, with acceptance for differences, so our witness as Your ambassador is not diminished. Let grace abound in non-essentials of cross-cultural service for our teammates and other believers. Help us to live wisely, humbly, and well as others watch us. Help us reflect You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Book: The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg John Ortberg writes with refreshing transparency as he describes and encourages spiritual disciplines for “ordinary people.” I have used this book often with coaching clients wanting to live well, and in deeper intimacy with God.
Question for Reflection

Do you struggle with judgment for others you serve with in your ministry or organization? How do you bring these feelings under the discernment of the Holy Spirit to allow you to live well and humbly?

Gail Goolsby
September 07, 2021

After experiencing the painful dismissal of some global workers in my role as a school administrator, I became more aware of my own biases and judgments of fellow Christians at home and abroad. I make the conscious choice to get to know people better and understand their personal decisions, elevating our common ground over differences.

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