In looking at How to Find Wisdom we’ve been using the acronym A.S.K. – Ask, Seek, Knock.
As we discussed in the last post – the big question in seek – is where to seek? The most important place we talked about seeking wisdom was in the Word. (Check out the first 2 posts in this series here, and here.) This week we’ll take a look at
Seeking Wisdom in the World
There are many principles in God’s Word that He has given us to help us find wisdom for our lives. Sometimes however, we need more information and must seek wisdom in the “world”. For example when trying to make decisions about our health, jobs, buying a car or a house, and a host of other things we might need wisdom on for our families. Let’s take a look at How to Find Wisdom in the World for these things.
When seeking wisdom in the world, as with anything, we should always start with prayer! We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us to the right information at the right time, and we need His help to correctly understand what we find. We live in the Information Age – which I would say is just about as much MIS-information as correct information (maybe more!). We need a discerning Spirit to help us navigate the plethora of information that is available to us.
Seek Multiple Sources.
When looking for wisdom on a specific topic it is important to look at multiple sources. This accomplishes several things. One it gives us a broad background and overview of the topic we are looking at. Two, it will often lead us to ask other questions about our topic, and to go deeper into the subject. Three, it allows us to filter out information that is way out in left field. If we look at 3-5 sources, and all of them say pretty much the same thing except one, we’ll know it doesn’t line up and that we need to investigate further. However, if that’s the only source we look at we won’t be able to spot these outliers easily.
Some Sources to Look at:
- Ask a trusted friend or acquaintance who’s been in the same situation and has handled it well (i.e. don’t ask the frazzled mom down the street who’s constantly yelling at her kids for parenting advice; ask a mom who’s kids are older, well-adjusted, and who you respect how you’ve seen her handle situations with her kids.)
- Ask a professional in the field.
- Do a Google Search – with caution and prayer! Check out at least 3-5 sites, and if possible do at least 2 searches using different terms. (I’ll post later why this is important, but let’s just say for now like everything, there is a way to manipulate search results.)
- Go to the Library – it may seem old fashioned nowadays, but you can learn a lot by checking out some books at the library. Books can even help you refine your Google searches, and the questions you ask of other people.
- Look in God’s Word for principles that apply to the situation you are looking for. I know this was stated in part 1 of Seek, but it’s important to mention again. As you gain new understanding of a topic it’s important to look back to our foundation in God’s Word. As we learn more and pray God will reveal more and more about how things apply to our lives.
“For the word of God is alive and active.” – Hebrews 4:12
Whenever you look to a source for information you always need to evaluate the credibility of the source. These days anybody can claim to be an expert. Writing about a topic, putting pretty pictures with it, on a well-polished site does not make the information credible. Your sister’s brother-in-law’s aunt’s best friend 3x removed saying that she witnessed a crime isn’t credible either. Yet everyday rumors get started this way and are spread through social media. All this to say – check where you’re getting your information. Just because it’s in writing, doesn’t make it true! Here’s some things to look for.
- Who wrote it/said it?
- What’s their Worldview?
- What’s their professional training and experience?
- What’s their reason for writing?
- Are they trying to inform, sell you something, increase their bottom-line, spread gossip, encourage and help you?
- What’s their bias?
- Everyone has one. What is theirs and how does it align with their information?
- What’s behind their bias?
- This goes back to their reason for writing. The bias may be based on monetary factors, life experiences, prejudices, worldview, or even just plain old trying to to make themselves look and feel better about themselves.
- Bias isn’t always a bad thing – but it is important to evaluate what bias a source of information has in order to properly evaluate the content and the quality of the information given to us.
- What’s their bias?
- Is there data to back up the claims?
- If so, can you verify the data?
- Do other sources have comparable data?
- Is there a noticeable slant to the data?
- Be cautious with data and statistics – it’s good to have, but if what you are looking for relies heavily on this data, check it out carefully! There are entire classes on how to lie with statistics!!!
Establish Clear Definitions.
Definitions of words are key to understanding any concept. Especially in today’s society, words have varied meanings and connotations, and definitions can change over time. (I still remember a time ‘wicked’ was bad thing… and I still struggle when hearing this word used in other contexts.) Effective communication requires us to be clear in our word usage. You cannot always assume that an author or source is using the same definition of a word or method as what you know. This is especially true in the world of parenting – words like training, discipline, and schedule all can evoke strong emotions and thoughts about the author’s usage and intent, but have a wide spectrum of definitions and methods that are used in each area. Make sure you understand the sources’ definition, as well as define your own personal definition.
Great misunderstandings often lie in small differences in definition.
I know I’m repeating myself here. But without prayer all the knowledge in the world is useless. I could quote every textbook I’ve ever read, but it does me no good if I don’t know how to accurately apply it to my life. We can’t see the whole picture – no matter how much we know. So we must go to the Author, and ask Him how to apply what we’ve learned to each and every situation we encounter. This is how to find Wisdom.