Bob Tamasy: Do We Have A Wisdom Deficit?

Monday, May 12, 2014 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

The amount of knowledge available to mankind is growing exponentially, in part because of computer technology, along with our extensive use of tablets and smartphones. If you need information on virtually any topic, it’s only clicks away.

We no longer need to trudge into the library and hunt through stacks of books to find one with the exact information we need. Select the search engine you prefer, type in the appropriate words and “voila!” – there it is. And you didn’t have to drive anywhere or even get up from your chair. 

And when was the last time you heard of anyone buying a real set of encyclopedias? We used to spend hundreds of dollars for a couple dozen volumes only to discover within a year they were already out of date. Before we knew it, the Book of Knowledge didn’t know as much as we thought it did. Now we’ve got Wikipedia and other online sources being updated constantly.

The thing about knowledge and information, however, is they’re not the same as wisdom. Yes, wisdom requires knowledge, but it’s more than that. It’s also a blend of experience, insight, and as I recently heard someone state, “just judgment.” Wisdom is the quality in a person you look for when making a critical decision – someone you can approach, lay out the circumstances and pertinent information, and then solicit their viewpoint. 

My father used to say, “Some people are so smart they’re stupid.” In other words, they had intellect and a storehouse of knowledge, but didn’t know how to apply it in useful ways. They lacked wisdom. Other people might not have impressive college degrees, but they have “horse sense” –a way of slicing through extraneous details and getting to the heart of the matter to find a workable solution to a dilemma.

Today as a people, a society, even a global community, we’re beset with problems that defy resolution: Poverty, escalating violence, looming threats of terrorism, global hunger, wars, fractured families, racism and bigotry, among others. Politicians can’t seem to move beyond their partisan agendas to find answers in the best interests of all. 

On a personal level, we wrestle with our own unique issues: the seemingly endless pursuit of happiness, seeking direction for everyday living, restoring troubled relationships, feelings of despair and hopelessness, searching for meaning and purpose.

These issues have confronted mankind through the centuries, but it seems we’re no closer to finding answers today, despite the amassed facts and information at our disposal. Could it be the problem is not knowledge, but a deficit of wisdom? 

Where do we get this wisdom? I don’t recall seeing it on sale at Wal-Mart, Publix or Target, and I’ve never heard of a university or college offering Wisdom 101, let alone Wisdom 452. We can acquire a measure of wisdom simply through the process of living, learning from experiences good and bad, and striving to act accordingly. But there’s a time-honored source we seem to have forgotten in our increasingly secularized society – the Bible.

James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” But in large measure we’ve collectively decided we don’t need God – somehow we think we’re doing fine without Him. As a result, “You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). 

The Bible’s “book of wisdom” starts by proclaiming, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). In refusing to honor and worship God, choosing to worship the creation rather than the Creator – as the apostle Paul writes in Romans 1:25 – we deprive ourselves of the primary source of wisdom.

Proverbs 3:19 declares, “By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place.” We’re rightfully concerned with the state of our physical world, wanting to protect this earth God fashioned and entrusted to our care, but we refuse to consult Him on what we should do. Guess we’ve decided we know better than He does. 

But even at the “down home” level, we desperately need wisdom for sailing the often murky waters of marriage; raising strong, stable children in an age with so many contradictory messages; handling finances in an uncertain economy; finding peace in the midst of great pain and unrest. If we’re willing to look, God has provided how-to’s in the Scriptures:

“Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:5-7).

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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at btamasy@comcast.net.


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