I am a fool. I do very foolish things; my mouth often runs ahead of my mind. I also speak without knowledge or study about a subject. I have pondered how to correct my foolishness and here is a short list I work on in my quest to become a bit wiser.
1) Teach not Preach
I come off as opinionated; I have a bad habit of standing on the soapbox and preaching. I really need to work on teaching. What does teaching involve, however? First, teaching requires receptive students. In other words, I need to be silent unless someone comes to me with a question. The old Zen masters used this approach. A student that comes to a teacher often ( but not always) wants to learn. A teacher who looks for students will find few. Next, I have a bad habit of being patronizing. I naturally speak with terms people don’t normally use in my area. ( My immediate family all does). A good teacher challenges their students instead of patronizing. Finally, I need to remind myself that I know nothing. A good teacher is also a student. We do not know as much as we think we do.
2) Discard Pride
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2
I have a proud streak. I am proud that I am curious and don’t settle for answers. I am proud of my intelligence. Both show I lack wisdom. Humility is difficult to cultivate; it helps to remember that there are people who know more than I. It also helps to remind myself that I am terrible at sports or anything vocational. I can’t work with my hands outside of art. My sense of pride ties back into my habit of standing on the soapbox. I sometimes feel superior to “those who don’t work their mind such as I.” I don’t like thinking and feeling that way. It isn’t compassionate or right.
“Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.” Job 12:12
I am young and haven’t had many experiences. I am pretty risk adverse too which limits my experiences further. Wisdom comes through experience. So time and experience comes to us as we live. Hopefully we can also learn from our mistakes. Mistakes are the best (and sometimes the most difficult) source for experience.
4) Listen and Consider Advice
I can, however, offset my age deficit by listening to the advice and experiences of those older than me. History repeats because we fail to learn from her lessons. I may not be wise, but I can avoid some mistakes and problems by listening to those who’ve been there and done that. The advice of our elders isn’t always sound. We have different circumstances than they had. However, it is helpful to see their decision, why they decided, and the outcomes.
5) Don’t Consider Oneself Wise
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.” Proverbs 3:7
It is easy to be blind to ourselves. When we consider ourselves wise, we set ourselves up for failure. We don’t listen to anyone else, we preach, and consider ourselves righteous. The truly wise don’t consider themselves wise because they realize they are still growing and changing.
6) Be Silent
“Do not speak, unless it improves silence” – Zen Proverb
Words can help and harm. When we speak impulsively we can hurt people deeply. Modern society is full of noise and words, but very little improves silence. Much of what we see is hurtful or just vapid. It is good to think before speaking. It is unfortunate in America we consider a delay in a response as disingenuous. I really need to work at this point. Too often I speak before thinking my words through. I speak out of ignorance instead of contemplation. I don’t often improve upon silence.
So why be concerned about wisdom? Wisdom helps you become a better and more compassionate person. It creates rich life; one that positively impacts other people. Cultivating Wisdom also brings us closer to God:
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. ” James 3:17