To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, – Proverbs 1:2
“You’re not as smart as you think you are!” Honestly, if I had gotten nickel every time I heard that as a 13-18 year old I would have…well, probably nothing more than a regret that I had lost a lot of nickels. I heard it a lot, and I never believed a word of it. Frankly, it didn’t make sense. I was a great student – had gotten pretty much straight A’s since Kindergarten. I was a valued employee that was always given extra responsibility at work because I “made things happen.” I even had people tell me all the time that I had a smart mouth! (OK, that might not be the best defense…) Whether it was my parents, my teachers, or the random adults I came across that spoke those words to me, I always seemed to turn a deaf ear to them.
My mind was like a sponge growing up, and I learned all sorts of stuff. Trivia was like a drug for me, and the more I knew about something the better. I would read books on trivia, memorize the Trivial Pursuit card decks, and browse dictionaries and encyclopedias just to increase my knowledge. (Notice that there was no mention of electronic media. No Google back then. We had to actually know things! *said in a curmudgeonly voice*) I wanted to be that smartest person in the room.
What I did know was impressive, but looking back now, I see that I was deficient. I knew a lot, but I didn’t have any experience in handling that knowledge, and not a clue with what to do with it. I also had a little too much pride to realize I needed help with that. Looking back, I wish I had only known that knowledge is where things start. You need knowledge to get the ball rolling. there is an old saying, “That guy not only doesn’t know anything, he doesn’t even suspect anything.” There is a process, and here is how I see that process working:
- Knowledge – A collection of facts. Purely data that you are capable of retaining. It requires nothing more than a place to store it. You can use a brain, or you can write it down and keep it in a folder. At this point you aren’t doing anything with it anyway.
- Understanding – You begin to see that the data you have might be useful in certain circumstances. You might not know what to do with it, but you can see it has some type of potential if you can just get the pieces put together the right way. Understanding is a bridge that takes you from knowledge to wisdom.
- Wisdom – Practical application of knowledge. This is taking what you know and applying it to a situation to achieve a result. It might not always succeed, but it is using what you know in a constructive way.
- Insight – Personally I think this one is a God-given thing. Insight is being able to draw wisdom intuitively out of something you read or see and use it to teach or help someone else. (This is my definition, anyway. Webster may have something else to say about it.)
It has taken the last 20 or so years to get a better understanding of how smart I was back then. There were things I needed to learn, and I probably missed some great opportunities to gain wisdom at an earlier age. Look back at your own life before you throw any stones though. This is a common affliction among the young. At some point most people will grow out of it though.
I wish I had known the importance of looking deeper when I was younger. At some point I started to need to not only know more, but I needed to know what to do with it. Once I realized there was more to it than just being smart, the journey really began.
Relentless Living is not being willing to stay put. My wife and I joked yesterday with our friends about how much easier it would be to live a Sedentary Life or a Stagnant Life, but there is no growth there. If I’m going to be Relentless in my life and in my pursuit of God, then I need to be willing to admit I don’t know everything. I need to try an understand what is going on in my life and then do something with what I know, all while asking God for the insight needed. After all, He knows the answers!
I hope that today I can say that I am as smart as I think I am. I know now that there are a lot of things I don’t know! I have a better understanding of myself, my abilities, my personality, and my sphere of influence. I make mistakes, but I learn from them now rather than blame someone else. I still want to learn, but not to hold knowledge. I want the things I learn to be useful in helping others. It’s a process, and when I have a set-back I can now look back and see that things are getting better. God is working in me – Relentlessly