Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it. -Albert Einstein
Wisdom is meant to increase as we grow older but you and I know that there are some senior citizens whom most will not consider as wise. It is not the grey hair that makes us wise. Rather it is the level of commitment to learning from every situation we find ourselves in.
Schooling does not necessarily increase wisdom, but the one who is schooled has a greater chance of increasing wisdom due to the amount of knowledge accumulated and waiting to be applied (wisdom). This is so because practical wisdom is the adequate application of knowledge.
Wisdom on the other hand can be learned by watching other wise people, taking action and learning from the outcome, reading books and reflecting on whatever is going on around us. I find that I learn a lot just by watching and observing the people and situations around me. You don’t need a school to learn that.
Take Action – Reflect on some of the lessons you have learnt lately. Write down and commit to a plan for implementing what you have just learnt. Continue to learn as you take these steps. Turn every disappointment into a blessing.
My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will understand the fear of the LORD,
And find the knowledge of God.
For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.
(Pro 2:1-8 NKJ)
There are some important messages embedded in this passage of scripture. Wisdom is important and you must incline your ear to wisdom. It’s everywhere if you are looking for it and it’s hard to find if you despise it. To apply yourself to understanding means that we practice what we understand and are willing to learn from our mistakes if any. We read also that God gives wisdom to those who walk uprightly. Is it interesting that we are told that the search for wisdom terminates in learning the fear of God!
By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is bitterest.
Wisdom is quite difficult to pin down with a simple definition and as such how to learn wisdom is also not a quick fix. We would all agree that most people consider wisdom to be a good thing. It feels good to be considered wise. How then can we increase our wisdom? How you ensure that your next action is the best one that you should take? Or how can you increase your ability to discern between good and better?
Well the answer is in the quote above? Think! Meditate! Reflect and if you don’t have enough time or material to do that you can imitate, copy, emulate a wise person or people around you. If you don’t have these then take a step with you best judgement and learn from experience. We will all learn from these 3 methods and one more – inspiration. However, the message today is that you try to make reflection and Inspiration your main teacher closely followed by imitation and then experience. There are people who reverse the order and this can be very costly.
I add inspiration to the list because reflection can be considered to be musing over facts and information already gathered but I want to point our attention to the fact that during the process of reflection and meditation, inspiration can come from God! That is to say, one can have a thought that is not necessarily part of what one has been considering or what you have studied.
Reflection takes a lot of time that is why we are not so prone to doing it. It takes time to read several books on an issue for which we need wisdom. It takes more time to reflect and think about what we have read in the light of what we have known and how it will impact our lives and the future of the universe. It takes time to compare the ideas of the experts in the field. It takes to try to view our preferred idea with what God has planned – that is what is a better choice between what I want or what is best for the universe, what will be a blessing to those around me and would stand the test of time.
Take action! Read a new book this month, listen to a podcast or watch a video that will improve your skill on any aspect of your life. It could be relationship, career, spirituality or parenting or make a note to read this blog daily! Now don’t stop there – think about a habit that you can emulate or imitate from what you read! Think about how this will affect your life if you choose to continue this habit for the next 20 years! Talk about it with the wise people around you and then start to practice it. Don’t give up, you may need to review and fine tune but don’t give up! This is how to increase wisdom!
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Here are 3 words about wisdom that seem to contradict each other. However in some ways they are all wise words. I agree with Socrates that the more you know and the wiser you are, the more willing you are to learn and the more you are aware that what you know is nothing compare to what is available to know or learn. Only a fool thinks he knows all there is to know (or even a good portion of what there is to know). On the other hand however, it is wisdom to helps you know your weaknesses and you lack of knowledge and your frailty. Although I would not repeat Aristotle on this, I can learn from him that knowing your lack of knowledge is the beginning of wisdom and take note that it is just the beginning. Knowing God, knowing the plans of God, knowing that we are at the mercy of God, knowing that we need to get instructions from God, that we need to be directed by God is indeed wisdom. How to hear from God and the will to obey God are subject for another discussion. Let’s not keep trying to know ourselves by looking at ourselves, look to God (perfection, Holiness, love) and like a mirror we get the added privilege of seeing ourselves first and then with more intentionality we begin to know God!