March 17, 2022

The Sum of All Wisdom: Knowing God and Self  


“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10 (NASB)

The great reformer John Calvin opens his classic work, The Institutes of the Christian Religion with this insightful quote:  

“Nearly all the wisdom which we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.”  

In other words, you can’t know God without knowing yourself, and you can’t know yourself without knowing God.  

A universal and critical aspect of effective leadership in the military community in any context is to know yourself, to understand your personality and its associated strengths and limitations. Since God is the creator of all things to include the relational order of the world, it is possible for those who are not followers of Christ to gain these insights.  

However, as a Christian it is possible for you to gain a deeper and clearer knowledge of yourself, by first looking at the face of God. And as you gain a deeper knowledge through your engagement with Scripture of his character and the nature of the world he created, you will not only know yourself better, but you will become a better student of human nature and behavior. You will first be humbled at just how little we human beings know and the deeper necessity of accepting God’s redemptive plan for us in Christ. It is only by being in a right relationship with God that we can see who we are in his sight.  

Gaining that insight, you will then understand the purpose for which you and those you lead were created. You will understand the role of God-given emotions in your life and how to manage them as well as being able to understand and respond effectively to the emotions and needs of others. You will be better able to lead those entrusted to your care to fulfill God’s design for them in every calling of their lives: personal, vocational, and familial.   

Do you desire to become a better leader as you pursue God’s various life callings? Taking a cue from Proverbs, 9:10, begin by approaching the Lord with the reverence and awe that is his due and like Solomon who penned these words ask God for the wisdom to see him and all things as they really are. And remember the promise of James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (ESV).  


Kenneth W. Bush
CH (COL-R), US Army
Director of Training, National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces