Wisdom’s Tuition

dumbass no more

For years, as I have mentored young men, I have joked about a book that I’d like to write entitled Dumbxxx No More: 501 Stories from My Life for You to Not Repeat. The book has yet to be written but the response is 99% positive. The only negative one came from a pastor who feared laughing at the word “dumbxxx.” He just did not know what to do in the moment.

“Knowledge is Power” goes the saying. While this is true, my observations of 4 decades as an adult is that there are a lot of  stupid knowledgeable people traversing our planet. Let me explain.

There is a powerful “commodity” that you can add to knowledge that amplifies it ten-fold. It is Wisdom! There are a lot of people who have great knowledge but demonstrate significant deficiencies in the realm of wisdom.

Solomon, the King of Israel once said, “Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.” (Ecclesiastes 10:10). If knowledge is power, then wisdom is atomic in strength. Knowledge without wisdom will get the job done. Wisdom gets it done with ease and avoids mistakes. In essence, wisdom is knowing how to apply your knowledge.

So, where do we get wisdom? First, we must understand that wisdom ALWAYS comes at a cost …. it has a tuition. The tuition for wisdom is very high and is ALWAYS paid. But that does not mean that there are not coupons and discounts. Everytime you try something and fail, you have the opportunity to learn wisdom (some people don’t actually learn). The failure … (and its accompanying friends: shame; pain; embarrassment; loss of time, money, opportunity, reputation etc)…. is the currency by which you pay.

There is a way to minimize your payment.  It still costs, but it is quite reasonable. First, read biographies. When you do so, you learn from other’s mistakes. The wisdom is there  for the reasonable price of the time expended to read and to think deeply about what you read (this is actually hard to do). Someone else has already paid a very steep price for this wisdom and it is there for all of us on the pages of such books.

Another  tied and trusted method is to find a mentor. The cost you pay is the effort to find someone qualified and then that of actually listening and heeding their advice. This is costly but not as much as the pain of falling on your face.

I mentor a lot of young men. Most have enjoyed the fruit of having avoided great calamities in life because they humbled themselves enough to follow through. A few  have imagined it was like going to a cafeteria restaurant. They select what they want to hear and skip the rest. Their lack of progress displays the folly of such thinking. Often, they return later, having paid the price of pain. This experience “readies’ them to actually listen from the heart the second time around.

How far do you want to advance? Which price do you want to pay? You will pay either way. The choice is yours. I have sidestepped many crises and disasters in my life solely because I had others who mentored me.  You can too! The tuition you pay is well worth the cost.

Photo is of Dolly, a donkey who lives behind my house. Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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