“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8
How do people learn and discover? How do people grow and change? How do they change their direction… change their priorities… change their minds… change their values… change their beliefs…? How does this happen?
And why do people (and by “people” I mean “we“) seem to resist change so much? Why do we push back so hard? What could possibly be so threatening about discovery? What is so threatening about light, about understanding when, and how, we have something new to learn; or that we are wrong, confused, maybe heading in the wrong direction?
In order to be classified as “alive” an organism must (among other things) interact with its environment, it must reproduce, and it must grow – and growth always means not remaining the same.
Change, then, is evidence of life – it is not a threat to life. Far from a threat, change is an important dare I say necessary element of actually living; if we want to thrive, even more so.
I Could Be Wrong!
I’m not sure about you, but I am wrong a lot. I once penned an Op-Ed for the Tampa Tribune where I pointed out that, “I disagree with myself on a regular basis.”
How can that be? Well let’s look at the evidence:
- According to the standardized tests psychologists offer, my academic record (other than resting my brain during high school), and my body of work as an author, I am likely fairly intelligent. I am also well-read, a decent student of history, an experienced teacher, very much abreast of current affairs, a good listener, and naturally inquisitive, in addition to having developed useful research and journalism skills in my work as a writer/columnist/reporter.
- The extent of what I do not know, on the other hand, is nothing short of staggering!
All that should leave me open, curious, teachable, healthily skeptical, inquisitive, and most certainly aware of the limits when it comes to my grasp of anything – even the fields where I am an acknowledged “expert.”
wisdom is a journey:
This should ensure that I am humble. Yet I am not so humble as I should be, and I too easily fall into the trap of believing that my opinion absolutely has to be the best available.
In a recent Hidden Brain podcast, psychologist Adam Grant talks about three ways that people tend to influence how other people think. He labeled them A) The Preacher B) The Prosecutor C) The Politician.
- The Preacher tries to exhort and persuade others, laying out the proposition that she (or he) knows the truth.
- The Prosecutor tends to work to undermine an opponent’s position.
- The Politician attempts to balance all sides and tweak his or her presentation to appeal across the board.
I would offer a fourth “P”. My suggestion is The Professor – a humble academic who facilitates an ongoing open-to-new-ideas seminar. The Professor constantly listens, seeks, knocks, pursues, researches, engages in dialogue, and second guesses his own conclusions. The Professor seeks to be on a journey with those he/she interacts with.
But here is the caveat. My professor is also a person of faith, someone who trusts in the Lord with heart and intention, someone who leans not on his/her own understanding…”
Trust in the Lord with all your heartProverbs 3:5-6
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Ask, Seek, Knock:
The Bible – the narrative history of God’s dealings with God’s people – advocates for wisdom more than it suggests dogma, recommends humility in place of pridefulness, lauds faithfulness before certainty, issues invitations rather than doors slammed shut, and tends to eschew easy answers in favor of hard questions.
Humility is always the way forward when it comes to wisdom.
People who believe they already know tend not to ask; those who have nothing to learn are not in the business of seeking; and when we wait behind our own defensive certainty we are simply never going to knock…
In consequence, having failed to ask, we will not receive; having closed the door to seeking, we find nothing at all; and – sadly – our resistance to discovery and our unwillingness to knock, means that the door (to learning, growth, life itself) will likely never be opened…
In all humility (because I could be wrong!) – DEREK