I’ve been reading Proverbs this week. There are several Proverbs about being a fool, or about being wise; there are many about accepting instruction and criticism. Why does this matter so much?
We have have a lot to learn, but sometimes we are so busy trying to teach others or tell people how they should work, play and live that we miss out on really amazing knowledge.
It’s impossible to know everything, so why do we pretend like we do? My husband knows more about motorcycles than anyone I know, yet he always learns something new; it’s because he listens. He never stops.I am not an expert in anything. I know a little about many things but not a lot about anything. But even with my limited knowledge, I can get a little full of it. I give advice without being asked (that’s probably what I am doing now). I even caught myself telling my dear sweet friend to cut down on her gluten, which is weird because I don’t even remember her asking me for nutritional advice, ever.
So it appears the problem, at least for me, is two-fold: one part not being open to learning from others, and one part never shutting up. If you can relate, read on.
Here’s my challenge to you and to me:
1. Talk to strangers-Continue to avoid dark alleys for good measure, but don’t be afraid to talk with other parents at your kids events or the person hanging out in the corner at a cook out. Let them talk. You never know what little nuggets of knowledge you might gain.
Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions (Proverbs 18:2).
2. Become the student-Even if, especially if, you think you are the expert in an area, whether its health, finances or faith, ask for other people’s input. They might now be as learned or book smart as you, but they will bring a fresh perspective that could enrich your life.
Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. (Proverbs 19:20)
3. Play dumb-Don’t be condescending but ask a lot of questions whenever possible. Give others the chance to be the expert.
Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice (Proverbs 13:10)
4. Respect differing views-We can’t all be equally yolked all the time. We are given knowledge to use to help others, not to use as a weapon of mass destruction.
Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before the fall (Proverbs 16:18).
5. Admit when you are wrong-This is huge! And don’t just say what someone else wants to hear, and worse yet, don’t say things like, “I am sorry you understood it that way.” There is nothing wrong with being wrong, but there is something wrong with refusing to admit it, especially to yourself.
Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. proverbs 9:8.
Knowing it all might seem like a desirable goal, but in reality people appreciate our humility more than our vast knowledge. The person who can admit their lack of knowledge and mistakes is more wise than the person who pridefully stands firm in false wisdom.
Being wise is more than knowing it all; it’s admitting joyfully that you don’t. Are you a wise guy?