Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 31

Wisdom Makes the Most of Every Opportunity

By Lisa Sharma

My husband and I have had the joy and privilege or being trained in the ministry and mentored by Wyndham and Jeanie for many years.  They have seen us through and helped us during the early years of our marriage and our time with young children at home.  They have stayed close friends as we ventured on to new ministry roles in other churches and on into new stages of life with our children- the teen years!  So much of what we have learned about serving in the ministry and about marriage and parenting came directly from their wisdom and advice through the years. 

At a recent party celebrating Wyndham’s retirement from the ministry and honoring his kingdom-wide impact, I laughed heartily along with so many of Wyndham’s friends and family, as we watched his son Sam portray Wyndham in a hilarious skit.  Sam accurately portrayed Wyndham’s ability to relax and enjoy the moment, while out fishing or watching the Patriots, always knowing the perfect time for having fun or an opportunity for a word aptly spoken.

Being on the more serious side myself, I have often wondered how Wyndham was able to relax and put the stress of life behind so easily, and still be able to have such a profound impact on everyone around him.  How is it possible, with the pressures and responsibilities he bears, for him to still have time for hours of fun and relaxation?  How is he able to enjoy life to the full and reflect the joy of the Lord and still accomplish so much?  After reflecting on how Wyndham trained us, and observing the way he helps and guides others, I believe I found my answer.  Wyndham follows Paul’s advice in Ephesians 5:15 to “make the most of every opportunity.”

So often I miss opportunities to encourage others because of my selfishness – I’m just not thinking about it.  Wyndham doesn’t miss those opportunities.  If encouragement is needed, he gives it generously, through a scripture, a word of praise or just expressing belief in the other person.  Sometimes my mind is elsewhere when I am with others and I can miss the chance to share the gospel with a hurting soul.  Watching Wyndham share his faith and spread the seeds of the gospel at every opportunity, just going about his day, has trained me to make the most of every opportunity.  Wyndham is present in each moment and always on the lookout for an opportunity to work God’s will and advance the kingdom with his words.

Many times I have not taken advantage of an opportunity to train or correct a person who needs guidance, most often because of my own insecurity and conflict-avoiding propensities.  As I reflect on the many times I have sat down to learn from Wyndham, or even just to spend time together, if something needed to be said, Wyndham never minced words.  He said what I needed to hear each time, never sugar-coating things, but always speaking clearly, directly, but gently.  Wyndham’s confidence and courage to face conflict when needed have allowed him to have a maximum impact in the lives of others in a short amount of time, allowing time to enjoy the life God has given him, life to the full!  Even today, when I feel insecurity rising up in my heart, I often think of how Wyndham would fearlessly handle the situation and it puts courage in my own heart.

How much time do we waste by avoiding opportunities and not saying the things we should?  How often do we spend unnecessary words skirting around an issue when being direct could have accomplished God’s will so much sooner?  Wyndham’s ability to make the most of every opportunity when speaking with others also allows him to also make the most of opportunities God gave him to enjoy life!  We don’t have to choose between living a life of impact and living a life full of joy, fun and great memories – we can have both if we learn Wyndham’s secret of making the most of every opportunity!

Ephesians 5:15-16 (NIV)
15  Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise,
16  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 30

Wisdom Knows Where to Find Wisdom

Have you ever faced a situation where you simply did not know what to do? I can think of many such times. I don’t really enjoy those situations, as I like to have ready plans and solutions for problems–and actually enjoy the creative parts of figuring out a plan. I can think that perhaps if I brainstorm enough, ask enough questions, read enough books, use enough diagrams, and even “sleep on it,” a great solution will emerge. While there are advantages to having an eagerness to find strategies and solutions, there is also an accompanying temptation named “self-reliance.”

I can feel helpless when stuck without a plan of action, so can be tempted to think that surely “I” can and should think of one. Therein lies the problem. I am challenged and inspired by the faithful and vulnerable attitude of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:12.

O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you. 

Though taking initiative, thinking strategically, and planning excellently are good and right qualities, these same qualities can also tempt us to to “run ahead of God.” Instead of first inquiring of him, meditating on the Scriptures, and spending time in prayer do we first  get “our” minds racing toward answers? When we don’t know what to do are we faithful enough to believe that God will bring answers, just as he did for Jehoshaphat. Wisdom knows that wisdom comes from God.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

Though Wyndham is gifted with wisdom, he continually seeks it from God. I have numerous mental images of Wyndham stopping to pray, fast, and inquire of God. Some of his times seeking wisdom were while walking the power lines alone with God. Many were with the family, some were before (and during) appointments, and others in the midst of conflicts or dilemmas. One particular time stands out to me during a season when our church went through a time of discipline and repentance. Troubled times. There were many decisions to be made. I saw Wyndham’s attitude be like that of Jehoshaphat in the scripture above. He did not know what to do, but his eyes were on God.

Armed with his Bible and a song book, he asked our son-in-law, who is also in the ministry, to accompany him to a cabin for a couple of days. 

For big strategy planning? Amazing think tank and discussion time?


The time was devoted to singing, praying, and reading the Bible. Praising God. Enjoying friendship with God. Inquiring of God. That was it. That was his plan for gaining wisdom and strength (and peace) to “go from there.”

I have often observed Wyndham go to God for wisdom, confident that God will give generously without finding fault.

Really, where else is there to go? All roads to wisdom lead us to Jesus. Our best laid plans are truly foolish if they are not first born from God’s wisdom. Wisdom knows where to find wisdom.

20  Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
21  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
22  Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
23  but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
24  but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
25  For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. (1 Corinthians 1:20-25)



Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 29

 Wisdom Relies on God’s Grace

Do you ever feel  you can’t keep up, can’t give enough, or spread yourself to be in all the  places you think you need to be…and then beat yourself up? And this response only adds to your list of ways you feel you disappoint God, yourself, and everyone else! Peggy Malutinok describes this dilemma well in the following words she contributed to Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham. Peggy, who has faced family tragedy with courage and Godly wisdom, is a wise woman and dear friend.

Thank you, Peggy, for sharing: 

I have had a passion to please God for many years, which began when I was in the campus ministry at West Virginia University, attending a church where Wyndham was the preacher. As God would have it, I became a part of a campus ministry there that totally changed the course of my life.

I was introduced for the first time to the focus of living my life to please God. I was no longer worshiping God just on Sunday morning. I was no longer praying to God just during a tragedy (or to get a better grade on accounting tests)!  I was now sharing my love for God with others, rather than abiding by the age old treatise to never discuss religion.

Years later, our paths crossed again, I was working in the full-time ministry, with ministry responsibilities overseen by Wyndham and Jeanie (I can’t write about Wyndham without including Jeanie’s incredible impact.) As a mother of two young children, ages 1 and 4, I wondered how much ministry work was enough? There were always people to comfort, encourage, teach, or advise.  My schedule included meetings to attend, classes to teach, and personal Bible studies. Of course I wanted and needed to spend quality (and quantity) time with God, with my husband, my children, and friends.

How much was enough to please God?  How much should I expect of myself?  I didn’t feel like I was devoting enough time to ANY of these areas, and of course there weren’t enough hours in the day to perfectly juggle the expectations I had of myself.
Pressure mounted…I wasn’t happy with myself, felt that I wasn’t excelling in any of these areas, and couldn’t see practically how I could change things.

I was so thankful for a discussion my husband and I had with Wyndham and Jeanie about the utter defeat I was feeling.  I can remember clearly, almost like yesterday, Wyndham’s question to me, “You don’t feel happy with yourself, but do you feel like God is happy with you?” His words helped me step out of judging myself, and to ask the only important question. He helped me understand that God’s grace was sufficient, and as I lived my life to please God…that was enough.  God was pleased with me. As I was able to step out of my shoes to look at my heart, my schedule, and my intentions though God’s lens, I quickly answered, “Yes, He is!”

I can still feel the joy and relief of such a burden taken off of my heart.
Wyndham wasn’t offering me what some have termed “cheap grace.”  I take seriously the admonitions in Romans 12:1, Romans 14:12 and in other scriptures regarding how we spend our lives and our time. I also take seriously the importance of “working as unto the Lord” as an employee (Col 3:23 and Eph 6:7).

Rather, the gift he (and Jeanie) gave me that day was to dig deep, to consider in stillness before God — how best to serve Him in each of the many areas of my life. And to learn that when it seems like too much, I need to re-adjust. Though I certainly need to get advice from time to time, I can’t let myself (my strictest task-master) or someone else be the judge of what is most pleasing to God.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

As I strive toward hearing that final “well done, good and faithful servant,”  still with not enough time in the days to do all I want to do for God — this lesson has helped me understand that God wants me to hear Him saying these words often, not just on judgement day.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 28

Wisdom is First Pursued, and then Pursues

I had just finished helping Wyndham transfer from his chair to the bed. He had left the leadership team meeting (that was meeting at our house) a few minutes early due to the fatigue that continually accompanies him. As I was leaving our room to go back to the meeting he asked me to ask one of the brothers in attendance to come back and see him after the meeting ended. He wanted to make sure this brother wasn’t discouraged by a certain situation that had been discussed, as he perceived that the brother may have felt burdened. As I told the brother that Wyndham wanted to see him, the brother smiled an appreciative and knowing smile and said something like…yeah, he knows I got discouraged about this before, and this is just what he does…he wants to make sure I’m handling things OK.

Wyndham has long turned his ear toward wisdom and has called out for insight. As a result, his heart has become keen to understanding…and  listening, and caring, and responding.

  My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,
  turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,
  and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,
  and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,
  then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
  For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
(Proverbs 2:1-6)

Wisdom pursues understanding, and gains that understanding from God. I have seen Wyndham respond to situations similar to this time and time again.

Noticing. Listening. Responding.

Responses have often come through words of encouragement, hugs, prayers, or fitting scriptures. So, his request to follow up with the brother was no surprise to me. In fact, it was rather normal.

The need to pursue wisdom and then respond to what we come to understand may come at an inconvenient time or when feeling fatigued…but wisdom always seeks to understand, and finds that understanding from God. Then, wisdom acts.

One morning last week my daughter looked in on her son, Caleb. He was in his bed writing. No one asked him to do this, but he wanted to express his thoughts for “Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham” through the following words:

My papa means so much to me. He has taught me so many great things about God and just things in life. I love him so much, and I love spending time with him. He is one of the most inspiring people in my life. This past year has been hard for me with people being rude (bullying), but my papa knows just what to say. 

He told me that I don’t need to care what people think about me, and what is important is that I believe that God will always help me and get me through tough times. He always knows how to encourage people including me, and he is one of the wisest people I know in the Bible and just in life. When I grow up I want to be just like him. My papa is AMAZING and I love him so much.  Caleb Miller

Sometimes, in my busyness I fail to pursue the wisdom of noticing what others are feeling, and other times I notice–yet  for one reason or another don’t act. Godly wisdom pursues. May we all pursue Godly wisdom that in turn pursues the building up of others.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 27

Wisdom Brings a Calming Voice of Reason

It’s really quite difficult to keep emotions out of difficult situations or conversations. Especially when we have been hurt. Especially when we think something is unfair. We can easily become, in my friend Gordon’s words, “wrapped around the axle.”  When this happens, our words produce turbulence rather than peace.

A voice of reason calms. A quick tongue stirs up.

When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. (Proverbs 10:19)

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
(James 1:19-20)

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)

I have long admired and learned from Wyndham’s strong, but calm posture in the face of difficult conversations and situations. Even amidst verbal attacks he reasoned, he listened, and sought to keep a Biblical perspective— looking to what was right over who was right. When wrong, he was quick to apologize, but if Biblical standards were clear, he was immovable. This came from his desire to have the righteous life God desires above all else. He worked and prayed hard to gain and maintain this posture and to overcome the temptation to become angry. He will be the first to tell you this.

From Bud Chiles’ kind words below, I’m reminded of  the importance of being a calming voice of reason, a peacemaker, and one who treats another with respect.

Wisdom asks:

  • Am I a calming voice of reason or an escalating voice of emotion?
  • Do I seek a Biblical perspective, or a perspective based on my opinions and feelings?
  • Do my conversations build bridges or create chasms?

Thanks, Bud, for your kind words and your friendship: 

Kitty and I had no idea what God had in store for us when we made the decision to move from Florida to NY in 1993. The move empowered changes in our marriage and the faith of our children for which we will be forever grateful.

These changes occurred because God used people like Wyndham to inspire us, to instruct us in the ways of the Spirit, and to love and befriend us.

We got to know Wyndham and Jeanie well through our shared ministry work with Hope worldwide. They led the New England and Europe work while we worked with Hope in Africa, the Caribbean and the Hope For Kids project in the US.

They were deeply experienced and wise leaders in our movement, and we were total rookies. But this fact did not color my relationship with Wyndham. From the get-go, he treated me as a friend and treated me with respect. He actually wanted to learn from me! That meant so much to me to have his deep friendship when I knew he far outpaced me in the fruits of God’s Spirit.

I treasure all the talks we had that always helped me to get a Biblical perspective on the challenges we faced with our work and lives. He was always the calming voice of reason when there was disagreement about how to move forward with Hope or how to resolve issues. He was and is a true peacemaker and his spiritual talent in this area has been used to great advantage all over the Kingdom. To me, he seemed to have been born an elder, yet I knew he struggled as we all do.

The fellowship times with Wyndham were and are always so sweet. Fishing together on Woodpecker Pond, vacationing together in Puerto Rico. We are both Florida Gators, both love the outdoors, and both love God and his family.
What a fellowship! What a friend for life!
Lawton (Bud) Chiles

 Blessed are the peacemakers
For they shall be called sons of God.
(Matthew 5:9)

May we all be calming voices of reason, treat each other with respect, and hold tight to a Biblical perspective.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 26

Wisdom Has Vision in Dark Times

by Darryl Owens

Many years ago I needed to get with Wyndham.  I did not know I needed it, but he did so he asked me to meet him at a popular coffee and sandwich restaurant . I had recently come out of the full time ministry in Boston. I had also loudly and defiantly expressed my dissatisfaction with and toward the eldership of the Boston Church. So, yeah, we needed to get together. 

We arrived around 10AM.  We stayed through the lunch rush and were headed toward dinner. Wyndham mostly listened to me as I aired my grievances. With great patience he helped, encouraged, and rebuked as needed.
  Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.
  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.
  And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. (1 Thess. 5:12-15)

 The rebuke appropriately stung as he reminded me of the biblical responsibility of the elders.  He helped me see that they were men who had to make decisions for the good of the church. At one point he leaned in and told me that I was spiritually out of line in my rebellion, criticism, and disrespect.

I tried not to  let it show, but I was a mess. I am sure Wyndham saw that my fight against leadership had become more important to me than my walk with God. And there I was with the one and only Wyndham Shaw, a man whose reputation for righteousness was well established. It was a bit intimidating and unnerving.

We stayed in that restaurant for so long that a manager came to our booth and told us we needed to buy more food or leave. As we were complying with the manager’s direction Wyndham said to me, “One day when you are appointed an elder you will know exactly what I am talking about.”  

I laughed to myself and thought that he had no idea what he was talking about. My faith was at an all time low. I had quit almost all forms of spiritual leadership and was just barely holding on. But this guy had vision for me. That was Fall 2007. On October 19, 2016, I was appointed an elder in the Boston Church.  May God grant me even one-tenth the impact, vision, and patience of my dear brother Wyndham Shaw.  



Darryl, and his wife Barbara are mega-inspiring as they give and serve in the church and the community. Darryl, seeing a need for greater trust between police and youth began the Boston Police Teen Academy, which has become a prototype for change.

Barbara, who teaches in an inner city school helped begin the Saturday Academy in Boston, which helps at risk youth find numerous avenues of support.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 25

Wisdom Breaks Barriers

Have you ever faced a barrier in your path? Today, on the way to a meeting, a huge truck was stuck on the sloped pavement of a driveway, blocking the road in front of me. I had two choices. Give up and go home, or find a way past the barrier. While breaking through the barrier involved driving through a portion of someone’s front yard (no damage was done) it also involved some form of courage and decisiveness. “What will the car behind me think? What if I can’t clear the barrier and I get stuck?”

 Barriers of many kinds appear often and most anywhere. Do you get stuck, and turn around and go back home thinking “oh well” I tried, or do you push through. Breaking barriers takes wisdom to determine what needs to be done, and then takes courage and decisiveness to follow through.

Jesus broke through all kinds of barriers for us (most importantly the one separating us from God), and showed us the heart we need to break through barriers.

  You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,
  for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)

Sam Powell, lead evangelist of the NY Church of Christ, shares ways God used wisdom from others to break through barriers:

Wisdom Breaks Barriors

By Sam Powell

I met Wyndham in the spring of 1975. I was a freshman at N.C. State University and he was the campus minister. God indeed does move in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform. I think about the barriers the Lord used Wyndham to break in my life. 

The Spiritual Barrier

Wyndham counted the costs of becoming a disciple of Jesus with me. My life was about women, partying, and all the wrong things. I never thought I could or would be a Christian. The spiritual barrier for me was overcoming my sinful life but also believing and understanding that being a Christian meant being a man of strength, integrity, conviction, and character. Wyndham broke the barrier of how I viewed men who followed Jesus. He most definitely broke down the barrier of how I viewed ministers. It wasn’t just the absence of robes and collars. He was a man of deep conviction and intensity for God, but he also like sports and could talk about them in a practical and knowledgeable way. It was a far cry from TV evangelists and the church I had attended back home.

Sam’s wedding

The Racial Barrier

When I initially visited the Brooks Avenue church in the mid 70’s I thought it would be my first and last visit there. There were just a hand full of black people in the church and one black guy in the campus ministry to whom I could not relate. Wyndham, the young campus minister, and many others showed me the love of God that could break down racial walls. Though there were laws against segregation, it was still the norm in the hearts and minds of many, especially in the church. In the churches of Christ the strategy was to have a black church and a white church in the same town. At seminars there always a preacher from the “black church” to give one of the keynote speeches. Wyndham mentored and trained me just as he would have anyone else, not to be a black minister, but to be a minister of the gospel who just happened to be black. Because of his influence I was the first black man to be sent out to serve in the campus ministry in the churches of Christ, where diversity eventually became more the norm.

Sam preaching at world conference in San Antonio

The Ineffectiveness Barrier

Wyndham, more than anyone, helped me overcome the areas that stood in the way of my effectiveness as disciple. My sanguine temperament and conflict avoiding nature were detriments to fruitfulness and impact. I wanted everyone to like me. Wyndham seemed to not care about that at all as he spoke the truth to me. He taught me the most valuable lessons in life and ministry—Put character and heart above the outward appearance. The greatest battle in life is the battle to conquer self. More than in words he demonstrated it in his life.

Recently when facing a challenging situation of major importance and consequence I could think of no better person to call to seek wisdom than my mentor, example, and best friend, Wyndham. He may now be physically disabled and retired from full time ministry, but the life lessons he has taught me will never retire from my heart and soul.


Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 24

Wisdom Persuades and is Persuadable

We have strong opinions on how something should be done. We really believe our opinion is the best way to do this thing. Ever been there? Ever had a day when you haven’t felt this way about something?

These situations may involve decisions that are made in leadership team or business meetings, or in conversations with our roommates or spouse on the “proper” way to place the toilet paper on the roll (just so you know the paper goes down over the top :-)), or on how to strategize while playing a game, or even deciding what is best to serve for a holiday meal.

We may have always done something a certain way—or believe our thoughts on how to do certain things have been thoughtfully and carefully discerned—and are right.

We may be right.

We may be wrong.

Or, we may be neither.

The more important outcomes for such disputable matters are how well we preserve relationships, and how well we “play with others on the playground.”

There are many different and okay ways to do things that are not doctrinally mandated from the Scriptures. Yet it’s so easy to wish others would just get on board with what we are sure is the best way to do a particular thing—the right way :-).

Wyndham has for years practiced  wisdom that understands the need to persuade and be persuadable. Wisdom finds a way to reason together:

learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
  “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD…
(Isaiah 1:16b-18a)

We can dig our heels in, insisting on our way…or we can seek to persuade and be persuadable. We can reason together.

Wisdom knows how to do both.

So how do we persuade without being obnoxious?  I refer again to James 3:17.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

There is a way to persuade that comes from a pure heart. This way begins with prayer and a desire to do whatever is most pleasing to God, no matter how we are affected by a decision. Persuasion coming from a pure heart communicates this spirit through words, demeanor, body language, tone, and attitude. Humility, or lack thereof is visible. God resists the proud, and so do people.

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  (1 Peter 5:5b)

While trying to persuade, pure hearts are also persuadable—because they listen and desire to learn. Because they value relationship over winning.

Peace-loving-persuasion ensures that respect is given to other opinions, and condescending comments or gestures are avoided. Nothing undermines persuasion more than obstinance and disrespect.

We are more able to persuade when we speak with consideration to others—considering how our comments will be heard, considering our tone, considering our body language, considering where others are coming from. However, when we begin with a pure heart these attributes follow.

Wisdom knows that to persuade you must reason, come to the table with a pure heart, be considerate, and be humble. These same qualities allow us to be persuaded by another’s thoughts as well. Wisdom is full of humility, with a willingness to be persuaded.

Wyndham, through his wisdom that comes from God, has reminded me that it’s okay to try to persuade (though I don’t usually need much reminding). In fact, God calls us to seek to persuade others to follow God (2 Cor. 5:11). In opinions, if we can persuade through a pure heart, consideration and humility it’s all good. If we can’t, we then get to practice humility. In groups and in family, I’ve seen Wyndham try hard to persuade, and also have seen him be persuadable. And whichever is the outcome, when he comes out of the arena of reasoning, he agrees to come out united. I have watched him when his opinion didn’t “win the day” come out of the setting with the decision to be united with the group’s decision—in such a way that you would never know which way he leaned. (I would know, but you wouldn’t.) 

May we all gain wisdom to persuade and be persuadable.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 23

Wisdom Teaches Friends to Fish

By Jimmy Allen

I wrote this article five years ago. Though Wyndham can no longer fish, he has taught many (including me) to fish—physically and spiritually as described in the scripture below. His wisdom to build lasting friendships and to train others lives on.

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Timothy 2:1-2)


This past Friday, I drove 300 miles, got a sunburn, and threw up several times. It was one of the best days of my life. I have been privileged by God in many ways. The list is too long to recount. One way is definitely in the amazing friendships which have encouraged, challenged and changed me. For the past 25+ years, two men have long stood on my closest friends’ list. They represent the past, present and future. They are spiritual generations in the flesh.

I got a phone call from my friend Gary Sciascia, saying he would be travelling from Phoenix (where he serves as lead evangelist) to Boston for a few days. Subsequently, I heard that my friend Wyndham Shaw would also be returning from Europe (where he was training elders) about the same time.  Somehow and some way, the three of us planned and then got together for a half-day fishing trip I will never forget.

Prior to departure, Captain Wyndham asked me if either Gary or I had ever been sea-sick. I assured him that I had fished on the White River in Arkansas with my dad as a boy and would be fine.

Wyndham had chosen the Merrimack River in beautiful Salisbury, Massachusetts, as our departure point. It was a beautiful sunny day . . . but windy (note to reader: remember the windy part; wind causes waves and waves rock the boat). We sped over the mighty waves and began to catch several fish almost instantly at our initial destination. We snagged seven or eight mackerel, and I was feeling great and ready to return home triumphant. Then Wyndham announced that we were about ready to begin to fish. I asked what we had been doing up to that point. He replied that we now had our bait! About that time I began chumming the waters. I lost my cookies.

Gary had not journeyed from Phoenix to the East Coast just to watch a grown man be sick, so he baited up. Pretty soon into casting mackerel, the stripers began to hit. They were ferocious. And we had the time of our lives. I have caught bass in Arkansas, but these would have eaten those guys and their families in one gulp. Wyndham was yelling at Gary about how to hold the dip net. Wyndham was untangling my line from Gary’s. Wyndham was steering the boat and taking the fish off the hooks. Okay, Wyndham was pretty much doing everything. Gary was laughing and reminiscing . . . and then, I threw up again.
All in all, it was a memorable day. 

For over 25 years, Wyndham has been a primary mentor and older brother to me. For over 25 years, Gary, that college guy the Lord bumped me into at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has been the most loyal younger brother and friend a man could have. And for a day, I got to travel back in time to when the three of us had a dream to see a church grow in North Carolina and then around the world.

For me, the day was not really about the waves or the fish. This was a day about friendship and one man pouring his life into another, who then does the same. I will probably not have many special times like this again in this same threesome this side of heaven. But the generations were represented in a way that only God could have put together. One man poured his life into another, and he into another, and he into another.

Wyndham not only fishes, he teaches friends to fish.

It is more than just a plan or a program. It is the greatest adventure ever. It is hearts uniting. It is spiritual warfare of the highest order. And today I stand very inspired looking back and looking ahead while living out today with people I love. I thank Wyndham for his wisdom to build deep friendships, and then teaching them to fish (literally and figuratively).

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 22

Wisdom is Impartial

 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
(James 3:17, emphasis added)


Impartial is hard.

Especially when it concerns people with whom we are partial (duh)—our family and friends. When friends and family are involved, it’s easy to be ruled by emotions rather than reality.

How different would your decisions, your counsel, your reactions, and your opinions be if “nameless individuals” were part of the situations you evaluated, or conflicts you sought to resolve?

Wyndham has always been considered “a safe place,” in part because of his wisdom to be impartial. One’s position or relationship to him really didn’t matter. This did not always come easy, however. He learned wisdom from God as he sought to determine WHAT was right, not WHO was right.

What a miry walk we walk when we let personalities rule our emotions, rather than principles of right and wrong.

Principle over personality.

This is an axiom he practices and teaches. What’s the Biblical principle? What is right?

Jesus, in Mark 12:14 is seen among men as a man of integrity.

They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not…?”

How I admire this quality in Jesus. How hard this quality has been for me, one who has often been a people pleaser, wanting everyone happy. This is something I have worked hard on in my character. Could the description of Jesus be said of us? Or would it more likely read…you are often swayed by personalities, because you pay attention to who they are and how they respond, stretching God’s truth in accordance with your emotions. Ouch.

I must often ask who I am most trying to please–God, or someone else. God, or me. (I can be partial to myself as well.)

I’ve often watched Wyndham imitate this quality of Jesus as he made hard decisions, unpopular decisions, “reacted to” decisions—all while seeking to be impartial and to practice principle over personality. But like I said earlier, this quality has also made him a sought after “safe place.” 

How does partiality/impartiality play out in our lives:

  • When we are close to a husband or a wife in a marriage and take sides without hearing both sides, and subsequently fail to point both back to the Scriptures?
  • When our child appears to be wronged by someone and our hair begins to bristle, but we don’t hear the “other side of the story?”
  • When someone we know is hurt by someone who they see as an authority figure, and we protect either the authority figure or the other person without hearing both out?

(Proverbs 18:17 is such an important teaching of wisdom: The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.)

  • Or, when we assume someone is “more right” because of their education, standing in society, or even ethnicity?
  • When we are asked to do something “shady” by a superior, knowing if we don’t do it our job could be in jeopardy?
  • When we listen to and participate in “put-downs” or gossip, assuming information is accurate and needs to be spread?
  • When we realize someone we love is not following the Scriptures, but they are really nice and sincere so we just “let it slide” so as not to create any uncomfortability?

Impartial or partial? What is right over who is right? Principle or personality?

Which one wins in our lives.

Wisdom from above is impartial.

Principle over personality, and holding to what is right over who is right is not “loveless,” but expresses sincere love for another.

Impartiality exhibits true, unconditional love. Partiality is sentimental, but not loving. Partiality creates false security and leaves others with greater concern over what we think than what God says. That’s not real love. Jesus spoke the way of God in accordance with the truth, while embodying perfect love and extreme grace.

Partiality is subjective, rather than objective. This creates insecurity because it’s based on feelings rather than a truth that does not change. Therefore, partiality is inconsistent. Impartiality brings security, maybe not always felt in the short run, but true in the long haul. We all need advocates in our lives, but we need advocacy backed with truth.

I often want someone to take “my side,” but not at the expense of truth. While I always know I’m deeply loved by my husband, I count on his impartial counsel. I am eternally grateful for this. I’m thankful that as an elder he takes seriously this charge:

 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. (1 Timothy 5:21)