Friday, February 12, 2010

Knowing too much

Ted DeMoss, the late president of CBMC would occasionally comment that a person was “educated beyond their intelligence.” This was just his funny way of saying that the person knew too much and thought too little.

I can certainly see where this whole idea of knowing too much and not thinking enough is a common trait. I see it in myself. In my early career, I started a photofinishing business. I know absolutely nothing about photofinishing, so I had to think through everything and figure it all out for myself, relying mainly on my heart and intuition. (I know now that this was wisdom from God and not any knowledge I had.) This led to some very creative solutions that set us apart and led to a very successful business.

Later in another project, I was very well prepared and approached the business pretty much along the lines of our competitors. This business was no more successful than some others in the field. In retrospect, I am sure it was because we were not forced to be creative and find new and better ways of doing things. We relied on our own understanding.

This seems counter-intuitive. One would expect that the more you know about something the better, but it doesn’t always work that way. I suspect that Steve Jobs never would have started Apple Computers if he had come from a background with IBM. His lack of computer experience caused him to think in totally new ways.

In the spiritual terms we could say to trust God and not our own knowledge. Proverbs 3: 5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Before the Renaissance 500 years ago, it was assumed that all people were about the same and if someone was capable of produced art, music, or literature, that they somehow had a received a gift from the supernatural of some sort. People would say that someone had a genius, not that they were a genius. With the renaissance came a belief in humanism and that man was highly capable of creativity on his own. While this type of thought has some practical advantages, it is not altogether correct.

God most surely gives and takes away gifts, and we should not give ourselves too much credit or beat ourselves up too much, if we do not have the gifts we want. Chances are we are gifted in ways that probably don’t seem like gifts to us. One of my definitions of giftedness is if we don’t see why others are not like us.

Mark Twain said the real danger is not in not knowing something, but in being absolutely certain of something that is wrong.

The only thing worse than too much information is having the wrong information. That is why it is dangerous to trust in ourselves too much.