A Plea to Set Your Sights on the Most Valuable Pursuit Imaginable

Dear Graduate:

Congratulations on your accomplishment! It is no small achievement to earn a diploma or degree at any level. I commend you for making the finish line. Well done!

Of course, graduation is also a starting line—we call the ceremony “commencement”—the beginning of the next season of your journey.

Scholarship money concept. Coins in jar with money stack step growing growth saving money investment

Whether you are headed for college or going directly into a career, I want to challenge you to consider the single most important pursuit imaginable for the rest of your life.


God’s word calls wisdom “far better than jewels—all you may desire cannot compare with her” (Proverbs 8:11).

When I graduated high school, the principal challenged me to get straight A’s in college. Please don’t misunderstand. I’ve got nothing against academic excellence. But rarely in my life have I prayed, “Lord, make me smarter.”

But I have begged time and again, “Lord, make me wiser.” I want to challenge you to aim higher than knowledge. Determine to learn how to apply what you know to life’s often staggering choices in the best possible way. That’s wisdom!

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight” (Proverbs 4:7).

Here is my gift to you: six truths for getting wisdom from Proverbs—Scripture’s bank vault of wisdom. Each starts with the letters of the word itself.

Worship God Reverently
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (9:10). Nothing matters more than this. Put God first in your life by making your aim always to please Him.
Invite Input Enthusiastically

“Listen to advice and accept counsel, that you may gain wisdom in the future” (19:20). Don’t go it alone. Get yourself a mentor you respect to help guide you through life’s most significant decisions.

Shape Words Carefully

“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble” (21:23). Trust me on this: people will judge how wise or foolish you seem by what comes out of your mouth. “Out of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Control your tongue.

Distrust Self Vigilantly

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (4:23). A person’s worst enemy is their own heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Guard it from every threat—especially pride (11:2).

Overlook Sin Graciously

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (19:11). Don’t be easily offended by others. Choose love that covers a multitude of sins (10:12).

Make Disciples Intentionally

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (27:17). A disciple is a learner. Don’t just get a mentor; be a mentor. Help others grow. Give yourself away to others and I guarantee you’ll increase in wisdom.

Friend, this might seem overwhelming. It is. You and I need the help of the One who became wisdom for us (1 Corinthians 1:30) through His perfect life, death on the cross, and resurrection from the dead.

If you’d like to know more about him and the wisdom life he offers, watch this seven minute presentation called Two Ways to Live.

If you ever need help or counsel in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me. It would be my great joy to offer whatever wisdom I can.

In His grip,

Curt Heffelfinger

A Sometimes Fatal Omission

We made it. Pastor Clay, Kevin Wilhoit, and I touched down in Minneapolis this afternoon. We’ve settled into our hotel, registered for this year’s pastor’s conference, and anxiously await the opening session at 7 PM local time.

We braved the cold and walked over to the convention center around 3 PM to register. As always the DG staff greeted us warmly and helped us check in. As I got my bag of conference materials, I eagerly asked, “Is the bookstore open?” Some addictions die hard. The sweet lady behind the table replied, “Yes, and the prayer room too.”

I felt an arrow pierce my heart. I’ve made my way up here to Canada masquerading as the US in Minneapolis every winter since 2003 save one, 2005 when I contracted head and neck cancer. Never once did I start my three days with the prayer room. Let me say it again. Never once did I start my three days with the prayer room.

Now I ask you. How can a pastor co-teach (the incredibly gifted Pastor Clay has agreed to alternate sessions with me) a 9:30 equpping hour on prayer, go to a conference so crucial to his entire approach to ministry as a shepherd and not start with the all-important means of grace that is prayer? For the life of me, I knoweth not.

Nonetheless I determined to repent. I suggested to my two compadres that we mosey on over to the prayer room BEFORE we went to the book store and get one of the DG volunteers to pray for us. We met Larry, a DG staff person for ten years now, who committed us to God over the next three days. Thanks be to God for this ministry and its understanding of the strategic role of prayer in making anything, anything happen of spiritual merit in the kingdom of God. Would you join him in praying for the three of us that God would mightily move in our lives as a result of attending this conference?

The whole deal made me think of various Scriptures that pertain to the folly, sometimes the fatal folly, of failing to ask God in prayer for help in the midst of our choices and directions. For example, 1 Chronicles 10:13-14 says this about King Saul, who turned to a medium for guidance rather than to the living God in prayer:

13 So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. 14 He did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.

His failure to ask of God concerning his need for guidance proved to be a fatal omission.

May the same not be said of us. Where do you need guidance? Where do you need the Lord to direct you as to His will? If we fail to ask Him through prayer for His wisdom,we run the risk of a potentially fatal omission.

Don’t go there.

God Most Gracious in Guidance

Turns out I am a lot like Gideon.

As our growth group works its way through Judges, Gideon came on the radar screen recently in chapters 6-8. I was mega-encouraged by an insight I hadn’t seen before. God takes great pains to bring confirmation to Gideon as to His direction for him as a warrior against Midian, Israel’s oppressor.

Gideon, to say the least, stands in Scripture as a reluctant conscript for God’s purposes. He pleads a poor self-image in Judges 6:15. Nonetheless God assures him that He will be with him (v. 16). Gideon requires not just one fleece confirmation but two in Judges 6:36-40. God graciously accommodates him.

Then, after taking his army down in numbers to a paltry 300 so that they would not take credit for the pending victory, but rather boast in God their deliverer in Judges 7:1-8, God comes to Gideon in v. 9 of that same chapter with His command to go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand.  And then, without any solicitation at all from Gideon, the Lord in His condescending grace adds this in vv. 10-11:

10 But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. 11 And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.” Then he went down with Purah his servant to the outposts of the armed men who were in the camp.

What happens in the camp does strengthen Gideon and he goes on to lead God’s people in a glorious rout of the enemy.

I read that and thought, how incredibly gracious of God! He knows the frame of His weak-kneed servants. He condescends to offer multiple confirmations to His will in a given situation.

Upon surveying all the biblical evidence for God’s commitment to offer guidance to His children, J. I. Packer concludes, in his book Knowing God:

The point is sufficiently established. It is impossible to doubt that guidance is a reality intended for, and promised to every child of God. Christians who miss it thereby show only that they did not seek it as they should (p. 233).

Where do you need to believe God as most gracious in guidance? Where do we as a church need to believe God as most gracious in guidance? Let you/me count the ways! He who gave Israel the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22) and who gave His church Jesus, the light of the world (John 8:12), will not fail us.