Ever wonder why we think highly of the educated and powerful while viewing those who have wisdom as relics fit for the wards at the old age home? Could it be the fact that western culture has very little time for humility?
At the beginning of this book [this is an excerpt from my book Blueprint] I pointed out that motivational speeches are unlikely to use words like wisdom and humility.
“…Humility and wisdom – not words used in motivational speeches. We are told if you want success you need to be smart, driven, outspoken, an expert, ruthless, cool, calm, every move calculated just to name a few. Often we are conned by an appearance of brilliance and expertise when we interact with those who have adopted the above model for success. We see someone highly motivated who somewhere along the line gathered a little knowledge and think, “that’s what success looks like, I need to be like them”…”
The odd time the word humble may be used to describe…
…a successful person’s beginnings, but have you ever considered what is suggested by this? Stating that a person came from humble beginnings but look at the improvement they made, suggests they have gone from being nothing to being something. In other words humble = bad, their new success = good. If wisdom is a part of the motivational speech it is usually in reference to making wise choices – be smart (wise) and you will go far. Rarely will you hear about true wisdom. True wisdom is only possible if someone possesses humility. These two things are inseparable. Humble is not opposite of success and wisdom is not a synonym for the application of smarts.
Words are fluid, evolving continually, leading to changing uses and meanings.
At one time wisdom described the outcome of humbly seeking God. The wise individual understood that God had a plan that exceeded their knowledge and comprehension. Wisdom was a gift from God to those who asked Him for His perfect way of doing things. Those who asked recognized they had limited abilities in comparison with their creator.
Over time the word wisdom evolved becoming interchangeable with the word “experience”. Being called wise was reserved for those who had lived many years. Those who were called wise were respected in their community and their advice was followed. This shifted the focus of seeking wisdom from God to seeking the viewpoint of man. This also changed the outcome; follow a wise person’s advice and you will become a better person, follow God’s advice and you will become a wise person. By using wisdom and experience interchangeably you change the meaning of wisdom completely. Experience is understanding gained over time. Those considered wise based on experience, are sought out for their advice on things like; life choices, ethics and morals. These areas at one time were God’s to answer based on His perfection but have since become the domain of those experienced in the ways of life in this world.
Then came the specialists, the next evolution of wisdom. Those who through experience in a specific area of human endeavour, understood what it took to be successful in that area and were considered wise. They had an overview of the desired outcome and had witnessed both success and failure so they could lay out a plan to accomplish their goals. They didn’t have to know how to do everything, just what needed to be done. It didn’t matter if it was industry or commerce, politics or religion, they had a vision and an understanding of what it would take to make that vision happen. They replaced those who were once considered wise because of their considerable life experience as the most respected in the community.
This loose historical account of wisdom and those we consider wise…
…demonstrates why it’s difficult to find someone who we can truly rely on for sound advice. What once was the domain of the one true God is now divided up into smaller areas of human expertise. Those with a little knowledge or understanding in an area have become the “go-to” people when you want direction. Based on human definitions of success we seek out the foremost authority in the desired field. No longer is God’s plan, done God’s way, in God’s time, using the people and resources He chooses, the goal.
Gone is the ability to say I don’t know, I can’t figure it out, I’m not sure how to proceed. This is all replaced with someone knows, someone has figured it out, someone can tell me how to proceed, I just need to find the right person or book, seminar or instructional video. How far away from true wisdom can we wander? As far away from humility as we are willing to go.
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2 (NIV)
Stay tuned A Little Understanding – more “Blueprint” will be posted in Aug 2020.
From time to time my blog will include abridged excerpts from my book “Blueprint.” Like any author/blogger, I find it difficult to leave the words I have written in my computer until a publisher can be found. Maybe it’s because someone somewhere needs to read these words now.
For more excerpts and quotes from my book Blueprint find the heading “Categories” on the right side of this page and click on “Blueprint (my book)