With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will. —Ephesians 1:8-9
Those are five of the most famous words in American aviator history. Apollo 13 was on a course for the moon when Mission Control asked the command module pilot John Swigert to turn on the hydrogen and oxygen tank stirring fans. Ninety-three seconds later, the astronauts heard a loud bang as the number-2 oxygen tank exploded. To save the lives of the three astronauts, NASA engineers scrambled to jury-rig a CO2 scrubber using only what they knew was available to the three men 200,000 miles away—space suit hoses, supply box cardboard, plastic, the flight manual and lots of duct tape. They then walked the astronauts through the painstaking process of duplicating their homemade carbon dioxide absorber on board the space capsule. If you Google that scene from the movie, it’s called the “round peg in a square hole” scene, after the famous line uttered by one of the engineers who helped figure it out.
Jay Heinrichs is the author of the best-selling Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion. He wrote that “Great leaders are known as problem solvers. This does not mean simply being creative; it means being creative with a reason.”
The Greek word phronesis is translated “practical wisdom.” It’s the word the ancient Greeks used to describe craftiness—taking what you’re given and using it to solve a problem. In our case, God’s given us all what we need to change the worlds around us. And what He dumps on our table is, often times, a very eclectic combination of people and resources. We oiko-engineers have the responsibility to take what we have and solve the problem with it. We tend to think about what God hasn’t given us for what we perceive to be effective ministry, but how are you using what is at your disposal right now to fulfill the Great Commission?