The Wisdom of Strength and Wisdom
By Ed Delph
September 13, 2021
Last week, I addressed the need for a ‘both/and’ way of thinking in our lives. Let me give you an example of how this works.
Do you know there are two major seasons in our lives? The Bible calls these seasons strength and wisdom. So first, there is a time for strength. Then as you gain experience and lose some strength, the season changes to wisdom. Interested?
Proverbs 20:29 reveals to us this truth; “The glory of young men is their strength, and the honor of old men is their gray hair." Thus, gray hair is an Old Testament symbol of wisdom.
So, there is a strength time and a wisdom time in our lives. I loved the strength time in my life. I could stay out all night drag racing up and down Central Avenue in Phoenix. I could get in at 4:30 A.M. and get up at 6:30 A.M. and work all day. I could play two rounds of golf in a row in the summer. I could eat eggs, bacon, and the good stuff - stuffed with cholesterol. I remember water skiing for hours at a time. When I was a young business owner, I stayed awake for three days in a row to complete a rush job that I had to finish on time. If I tried that now, I would be toast.
Today, I eat things like bran flakes, read the newspaper, drink coffee, and have air-conditioning in my car. In my youth, air-conditioning was just something that robbed horsepower. Today I wouldn’t leave home without air-conditioning. The hair that was on my head is growing out of my nose and ears. I'm not losing hair; I'm gaining face. It takes me three Snickers bars to get around the golf course while my young friends watch in wonder. I even listen to classical music. I'm even starting to look like my father. Oh, the cost of wisdom.
You might say I've transitioned (not the more modern sense!), morphed, or maybe I'm just a little older and hopefully wiser. But I'm older than what I want to admit and in the wisdom time of life. Sometimes confusion about which time of life we are in causes identity problems and mid-life crises. But both seasons are good in God. That’s the way God designed life.
Here’s a story, written long ago, of how young and old came together in a way that created a win-win for both.
An old man met a young man who asked: “Do you remember me?” “No, I don’t,” says the old man. Then the young man tells the older man he was his student in school. The teacher asks: “What is your occupation now? “I became a teacher.” "So, you became a teacher like me?” The student says, "Well, yes. I became a teacher because you inspired me to be like you." “That’s interesting. How, how did I influence you to choose to be a teacher,” asked the teacher.
The young man answered, “One day, a friend of mine, also a student, came to class with a new watch. I wanted it. I stole it right out of his pocket. When my friend noticed his watch was missing, he complained to our teacher who was you. Pointing to my friend, you addressed the class, saying, ‘This student's watch was stolen during classes today. Whoever stole it, please return it.’
"When no one returned the watch, you closed the door and told all the students to stand up and form a circle. Then you told us all to close our eyes without peeking. It was only when all the students had their eyes closed that you began searching everyone’s pockets. When you searched my pocket, you found the watch. However, you kept on inspecting the student’s pockets after me too. Finally, after you searched every student, you announced, ‘Open your eyes. We have the watch.’
"You amazed me. You didn't tell on me. You never mentioned the episode again. You never told anyone who stole the watch. You didn’t even scold me or chastise me with a moral lesson. That day you saved my dignity forever. I realized what I did was the most shameful day of my life. And, that day, I decided not to become a thief or something worse than that. I received your message. Thanks to you, I understood what an educator needs to do. Do you remember this incident, professor?”
The old professor answered, “Yes, I do. But do you know why I didn't remember you? It was because I also closed my eyes while searching each student for the watch. This lesson for you is the essence of teaching: If to correct you must humiliate, you don't know how to teach."
I realize the days of men searching children’s pockets are long past due to a colossal character devaluation, but the principle isn’t. Wisdom people, remember that the younger people are in the strength time of their lives. Their music will be louder; they will think faster - they are in that season of life. To the strength people, remember that the wisdom of others could save your life. Their wisdom is needed for you to be all that you can be. Strength and wisdom working together are what make communities complete.
Wisdom and strength complete one another, rather than compete with one another. In fact, each has what the other needs but doesn’t know it.
And remember, strength people, someday you’re going to look like me.
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com