Differing Versions Of Wisdom

What would you do if you thought you were doing something well and an expert said you were totally wrong?

I’m sort of chuckling as I write this. I want to open up an important issue wrapped in somewhat trivial circumstances.

Apparently I’m doing this blogging thing all wrong.

I read a lot of advice about effective blog management and operation. Some of it’s quite helpful, and a lot of it is technical stuff that I just don’t want to mess with. I’m sure it would make a difference—I just don’t want to spend a bunch of time on it.

But recently I’ve encountered some pretty strong evidence that challenges a couple of my basic choices. I know you don’t care much about the details, but I want to illustrate an important dilemma that we all face at some point: How do you know what’s right? From whom do you seek or accept advice?

Proverbial guidance

I’ve never really studied the book of Proverbs. Frankly it seems like folks cherry-pick its verses to support whatever point they’re making. But since it’s a book of wisdom, I spent some time looking for insight. I saw a couple of common themes illustrated by these passages:

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Proverbs 12:15

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 14:12

Seems pretty clear—relying solely on my own judgment isn’t the recommended option. God directs me to seek and heed advice. But the question remains: how do I decide which expert’s advice is correct? And what do I do if every expert offers advice that just seems wrong to me?

Here are two examples—you fill in your own situation.

  • Experts tell me to never give away ebooks. “Free” is okay, but I’m supposed to get an email in exchange. Building that email list is an essential activity.
  • Experts advise me to establish a speaking fee. It’s fine to waive the fee in individual situations, but the fee demonstrates that I expect others to take me seriously. The principle says others won’t value my services if I don’t.

Both chunks of advice make sense. I definitely want to increase readership, and I certainly want people to take me seriously as an inspirational speaker.

And both chunks of advice feel uncomfortable. I don’t want anyone to pass on an ebook because they’re afraid to give out an email address. I never want a group to feel like they can’t afford my speaking services—I’m not doing it for the money.

So—am I being the “fool” in Proverbs 12:15? Am I sabotaging my own success by ignoring the wisdom of proven experts?

How do you choose?

I’m open to input on my specific situations, but the real questions are bigger than my petty problems.

Perhaps two respected doctors advise different treatments. Maybe trusted friends say you’re off track, you listen and pray about it, and you think they’re wrong—we all face important, sometimes crucial, situations in which we have to discern true wisdom.

How do you make those decisions without following “the way of fools”?

  • When you receive conflicting advice, how do you decide which version of “wisdom” is really correct?
  • When expert wisdom doesn’t seem right for you, how do you tell the difference between being true to your internal compass and foolishly ignoring true wisdom?

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Copyright 2010 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

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