Wisdom for the Wise
"Wise men don't need advice. Fools won't take it." -Benjamin Franklin
Assuming this statement is true, and accepting the plausible argument that someone can only be one of the two, either wise or foolish, who then needs advice?
Now I’m sure that I could submit this question to any think-tank and they would most likely provide a probable answer. However, Benjamin Franklin is making a simple maxim, not a 300 page 'Idiot’s Guide to Not Needing Advice'. Our beloved Franklin is simply suggesting that we shouldn’t assume that everyone needs or welcomes our advice.
Let’s Take a Look
It is true that a fool will defy instruction, but what about the wise? Proverbs clearly explains that an attribute of a man of wisdom is that he accepts instruction, not that he is without need of it.
A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. - Proverbs 1:5-7
If you are in your mid teen years, you are probably experiencing this transition from the foolishness of a child to the wisdom of an adult. If you are willing to accept that you have most likely not ‘arrived’ at maturity, that you still have a lot to learn, and that you are willing to receive instruction from your elders, you have already reached the first stage of wisdom. Congratulations, you are now officially wise! The rest of the wisdom road will be easy with this mentality of learning. Remember, wisdom is not to be thought of as some guy with his chin in his hand contemplating the universe. Webster’s Dictionary defines wisdom as having the culmination of knowledge, insight, and judgment.
Tips to be Wise
He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth. Prov. 10:17
Upon turning thirteen, I noticed a large shift in the subtle scrutinizing evaluations that I received from others. Everyone supposed that at the jinxed age of 13, I would automatically become obstinate, foolish, irresponsible, and ignorant of instruction. Once I realized this, I turned on the heat. Ironically, just prior to the popularization of the Rebelution movement by the Harris’ brothers, I rebelled against what the world negatively expected of me. I was determined to not be foolish, turn against my parents and elders, nor let myself think that I was above myself. This ideology and God’s grace successfully pulled me out of the ‘trouble years’ of teenagerhood.
Until you have proven yourself, most older people in your life will continue to underestimate your wisdom, respect, and maturity. Here are some avenues that you can take to distance yourself from the expected norm.
1. Receive Instruction- Learn to love other people. There is no hobby on earth that I enjoy more than being with people. At first, your elders may seem preachy, but if you look deep into their eyes, especially in those of the elderly, you’ll find a well of love. This deep love comes from them wanting to help you achieve success in life. They want to include you in their life’s legacy. Keep in mind that unless you’ve broken Mr. Smith’s window for the 3rd time this week or accidentally shot Mr. Smith’s wife with a paintball gun, he probably isn’t instructing you for his own good. Mr. Smith wants to help you.
2. Act Upon Instruction- If someone shows you a better method for fixing a problem, act upon what they say. Try it their way, and if it works, let them know that you appreciate their valuable time and their help. They will admire you for the wise decision to be open minded toward their suggestion. If it doesn’t work, you can simply resort back to plan A; no harm done. Remember, they are older and have already experienced similar situations in years past, so it will most likely be more profitable and expedient for you to do it their way.
3. Think Older- Think of a mature person that you admire most. What actions does he perform that you find admirable, wise, and mature? Does he treat all women as ladies? Does he smile at others, even if his smile is not reciprocated? Does he have a firm handshake? Does he volunteer to help others with tasks that aren't beneficial to him? Take these things into consideration.
4. Stay Open- There are many guys that I know today who do not know how to open up to other people or cope with out-of-peer situations. They resort to acting uninterested or bored, which conveniently lets them find a quiet corner, lonely table, or well known group to hide within and not have to face their fears. They often forget that biting a minor is illegal in modern American law, therefore they aren’t able to face the fear of meeting other people or joining in new group activities! Common nervous issues to overcome include constantly putting your hands in your pockets (something I still find hard to not do), fidgeting with something in your hand or on your person, averting your eyes from others’, etc.
We will be discussing more practical tips on achieving wisdom in the future, for as Benjamin Franklin also said, "The doors of wisdom are never shut."