Wisdom and Character

I was recently asked an interesting question by Undersheriff Maurice Langston of the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office. Here is his question followed by my response:

Sheriff Nash,

I just went back through my e-book and am developing “Co-active” police dynamics within the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office.  I have a question about the tower of Peace.  I embrace the “Character and Competence” issue completely. However, my issue is “Wisdom vs. Knowledge.” Knowledge can be received through training and I’m good with placing it within the competence column.  Wisdom to apply knowledge must be factored into this equation in some area. Where do you place it? 

I understand that maturity plays an important role in this arena and that character attached to wisdom comes over time and is the ultimate goal.  However, all people who have good character do not necessarily have wisdom.  I’m not trying to build another column under your tower, but I woke up this morning thinking about this issue when a veteran officer who has character, competence, training, education, but doesn’t always apply his training with “Wisdom.”  Suggestions?  Where would you include it and why?

Hope you are doing well and you remain safe. I pray for your safety daily. Good luck with the Camels!

Maurice Langston

Here is my response to the undersheriff’s question:


Thanks for contacting me about your question. You raise an interesting point that caused me to deliberate a bit. While wisdom is defined as one of the 49 character qualities, I tend to agree with you that it may need a special place in the model. The Twin Towers are, of course, an attempt to depict a very complex human principle in a simple 2-dimensional diagram. That being said, I think wisdom may be a component of overall integrity – in other words it is a manifestation of both character and competence.

I do think there is a third tower, but I’m not sure I would call it wisdom. I think there is a third component of overall leadership which is communication – the ability to communicate vision, principles, values, passion, etc. I just haven’t found a way to incorporate it into the training at this point.

Hope all is well in Wakulla County. Wakulla Springs is still one of my most favorite places on the planet. I took my son there when we were travelling through FL before I deployed to Afghanistan two years ago.


Posting comments to this blog is a great way to build dialogue and encourage discussion on law enforcement character and ethics. Please do so frequently…

3 thoughts on “Wisdom and Character

  1. Maurice you have a very interesting question. You are certainly right that knowledge of all aspects of the profession…legal, weapons, policies, etc…is certainly in the competence tower.

    A wise old fella once told me this, which may help. He said that there was a heirarchy of information, and we certainly have tons of information available to us. At the base of this information heirarchy is “just the facts” we refer to as knowledge. Next up is understanding which arranges the facts…and we say “now I see”. This would be vital in an investigation or intelligence gathering or a neighborhood squabble. Next up is Wisdom, what action do I take with this understanding that I have? And of course there are man’s wisdom and God’s wisdom.

    The Scriptures often speak of this heirarchy. Colosians 1:9,Exodus 35:31, Daniel 1:4,17, and 2:21 are a few. Proverbs 14:6 is another good example where discernment is used in some translations for understanding. Discernment is certainly a good thing to have around most any day!

    So I would say that you were right, that maturity does play a role. I think it plays a role in both towers and that our role as leaders is to ensure that both towers are being continually strengthened in the lives of our personnel. They must skillfully apply wisdom, yes, but they must have “understanding” first.

    Keep your powder dry,

    Barney Barnes

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