Monday, October 13, 2008

Uncommon Wisdom - The Need for a Life of Strenuous Thought

I often quote what I think is a quote from Charles Spurgeon in reference to George W. Bush. Spurgeon said, “It takes thirty years to prepare a sermon”. His point is that inspiration and insight into the mind of God and the scope of the themes of scripture takes a lifelong commitment to the study of scripture and its application in one’s personal life. Such a quest involves a life of strenuous contemplation of the ways of God. Such a life is a arduous seeking for wisdom.

The bible calls us to seek wisdom in our youth so that in the time of calamity she may be found. The fool, in their moment of need, will cry out for wisdom and she will not be found. Wisdom or skill in any area of life is not easy to come by but must be diligently sought over a lifetime.

In today’s world, this is even more true. We live in an ever increasingly complex world. In our modern way of life, if we are to contribute to society we must become a specialist and an expert. The wisdom of expertise only comes from a lifelong quest for knowledge in one’s chosen are of focus.

The founding fathers were stunning in their commitment to the study of governance. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were intellectuals in the extreme. Out of the strenuous work to understand the history of governance, they studied the history of the Classical period and were literate in the original languages of the Greco-roman world. John Quincy Adams was instructed to read Cicero in the original Latin by his father when he was a mere twelve year old boy. The seeking of knowledge and wisdom was considered a civic duty. The fact of the matter is that wisdom is not a commonly held commodity and common sense is no wisdom at all.

But in the 21st century, we have come to believe that if a person is “one of us” and is not an elite or overly educated person, then he or she is more likely to have the common sense needed to represent us and understand us. This principle flies in the face of the reality of the process of obtaining wisdom in any area of life. Would we want one of “us” common uneducated folk performing open heart surgery on our father or proposing a treatment for our wife’s breast cancer. Do we want the doctor who finished in the bottom quarter of his class? I contend that it is even more difficult to govern a nation.

Do you want a doctor to fix your car or a car mechanic to do your plumbing? Neither ought we to expect a business man to be an expert at governing.

If we have learned anything from the Bush years, it should be that we do not want a common mediocre student or intellect as President of the United States of America. The myth that the elite students of the world make poor leaders is simply nonsensical. Real problems, complex problems, require the best and the brightest that the nation can offer if we are to find the nuanced and balanced solution that can withstand the test of time. What we need are intellectuals and students of history to lead the institutions that effect us as a society, both church and government. What we need is a person who has struggled to understand and sought wisdom all his days. If we have learned anything from recent years, may this be the lesson we have learned.

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