Wisdom: The proper use of knowledge which enables one to navigate through life successfully.
– Pastor Wayne
Success in life comes from wisdom. With wisdom, a man can take advantage of opportunities in life and more importantly avoid the pitfalls in life that entrap and destroy others. Maturity is both growing older and growing wiser. If you are looking to improve your life, the quickest and strongest way to do so is to increase your wisdom.
Wisdom in your work will enable you to be more productive, advance in your responsibilities and compensation, and avoid doing things that will get you fired or attract useless drama. Wisdom will help you maintain your personal finances so that you can support the needs of your family and not be slaves to debt.
Wisdom with your family will help you lead your wife, raise your kids, and deal with your extended family. Wisdom will let you pass your wife’s tests, maintain frame, and keep her following your lead. Wisdom will enable you to raise your kids to be responsible masculine men and feminine women, school them to learn wisdom, and be an example of how to live properly.
Wisdom in your spiritual life will lead you to the ultimate truth, being washed of our uncleanliness through Christ. It will teach you how to live righteously, and how to set your mind on things above and beyond this world. Wisdom takes us past the simple hedonism and parasitism, using what we learn to improve ourselves, others around us, the things around us, and even the generations succeeding us.
Learning the Easy Way
Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.
– Proverbs 3:13-14 ESV
1. Scripture and other Books of Wisdom
The Bible, besides teaching us the forgiveness found in Christ, has great life knowledge for anyone. The words of this Holy Book descend from those moved by God himself, the very definition of truth. Even if you reject the divine inspiration of Scripture, you should read it for its wisdom. Those who ignore or denigrate the Book miss out on what it has to offer.
I’ve also found that many of the pre-Biblical writings such as the Tao Te Ching and the teachings of Confucius also contain good wisdom. The Scriptures and much in the other ancient teachings have withstood the test of time and still offer their wisdom to this day.
2. Observing Others
The next most reliable source of wisdom is observing the successes and failures of those around you. Did your friend get divorced? Figure out what he did to contribute to it and don’t do that. Also see what his wife did to go down that path and lead your wife away from it. Common sense is born of watching common people not have sense and suffer the consequences of it. Whether it’s seeing one of your relatives go to jail for having a drug lab blow up in his face (true story), watching your college friends take on huge loans that they can’t pay off for useless degrees, there is much to be learned by simply paying attention to those around you.
3. The Experiences of Others
How much life have you experienced? Not as much as your father, or grandfather if he is still around. Our elders are often untapped sources of wisdom, who will typically gladly dispense it to those who ask. Much of what we are rediscovering as men seeking masculinity was widely known by our great-grandfathers and only lost due to the failure of later generations to receive it and pass it on. Don’t let that happen to your kids, visit and talk to those who have been down the path of life and learn from what they experienced.
4. Books, Blogs, and Other Works
A lot of wisdom is bound up in leather. Millennia of knowledge that can be applied are sitting around waiting for you to just pick them up. Much of the work published today is utter trash, but some of it is excellent and older works are usually worth checking out. There are people I trust who have steered me around life potholes with their books, videos, and blog posts. Often times the more obscure stuff is better. Lies sell better than truth, and anything flying off the shelves is either wrong or stated better elsewhere.
Learning the Hard Way
A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
– Proverbs 13:1 ESV
If only learning things were that easy. Unfortunately due to our own foolishness, stubbornness, and the ignorance of those around us who we learn from, we often have to learn pieces of wisdom by experiencing what not to do. The “School of Hard Knocks” is a brutal but effective teacher. Many men who were stuck in blue-pilled thinking have found the truth due to life beating the stuffing out of them. Dave Ramsey learned financial discipline by going bankrupt. I have learned the value of hard work by getting fired from my cushy office job and having to toil doing roofing for a while. Experience is the ultimate barometer of truth. That which stands the test of time is strong enough to build on. The key with learning the hard way is to let the experience and the pain from it sink into your mind so that you will not repeat it. Too many foolish people rationalize away their lesson and blame it on others, dooming themselves to repeat it again and again until they finally learn. Humble yourself so that will accept the truth that experience has to offer.
Not All Wisdom Is Wise
“Never believe a thing simply because you want it to be true”
– Diax’s Rake
Although you should seek wisdom, realize that not all advice is wise. In fact, I believe that most of it is absolute rubbish that should be looked at and ignored. Nearly all of TV, most of the self-help books, and much of the advice on the Internet is not meant to help you navigate life, but is published to enrich the author and tell the audience what they want to believe. What you learn from the Scriptures and the lives of others is generally pretty accurate, having been put to the test of reality, but every piece of advice that you hear needs to be taken with a few grains of salt. Question everything you hear, put it to the test of reality, and only apply and repeat what is true. Find sources of information that are more trustworthy than usual (we hope to be one of those), but even the most trustworthy sage can give out bad advice. Discerning what is true can be one of the more difficult parts of this process, but it is critical to learning the truth.
Some People Have to Learn the Hard Way
While it is easy to take the advice of others and use it in your own life, it is hard to get others to do so. Many times I have warned people I care about against a trap that they were heading for, only for them to disregard my warning and suffer for it. I myself have done the very same thing. You cannot keep people from having to learn the hard way, you can only try to learn as much as you can yourself. My advice to those getting frustrated by people making avoidable mistakes is to simply use it as a visible warning to others. Either they will learn and stop making those mistakes or they will have to learn it again. Life will eventually teach them, it just might take awhile and there’s not much you can do to change that.
In the age of cheap information, it is easier than ever to find the wisdom we need. But far too many are simply uninterested in obtaining it. Humble yourself, seek wisdom, and you will find it. Pass it on to your children and be patient with them as they have to learn some things by experience.