Hands up if you’ve ever been stupid. Yes, we all have. We’ve all done stupid things that had an impact on our own lives, embarrassed us but also that had a negative impact on others. Maybe you just put your foot in it too many times, or you get the wrong end of the stick far too frequently. Maybe you are prone to cause offence and you wonder why people don’t seem to like you, or maybe you just speak too soon in a given situation.
It’s crazy, Because no one sets out to be stupid or to feel stupid but when it happens it stings, doesn’t it?
A few weeks ago I noticed that a Church in Los Angeles whose Pastor I really admire had started a new series. It was called, “How not to be Stupid.” Well, that made me smile, I wondered whether I could get away with a sermon series like that. More importantly it made me think, it made me look into my own soul and recognise that we all do stupid things, that I do stupid things and far more often than I would like! We all do things that are just not the right way to go about stuff. I thought about how many times this was true of me and without making this blog an open confessional, with you assuming the role of a priest, I wondered if I had anything to offer that would be of help to me and to everyone.
So here it is: 4 Ways not to be stupid altogether and therefore live a life of meaning, because the truth is, with too much stupidity our potential growth, impact and influence gets hijacked.
1. Don’t Assume Everthing You Know Is Everything.
I know, drop the mic right? Got me! How many times have I, how many times have you, assumed that everything you know is everything about a given situation. Stop it, it’s stupid 🙂 Here’s the thing, when we speak and we think that we know enough and it turns out we know very little or, even worse, that in relation to what could be known we know nothing, we look stupid.
Let me say why this matters. 1) We very rarely have all the facts: which means our conclusions are based on too small a sample, better to keep quiet. 2) The information we have received has come via a bias: oh boy, this is a big one. Yes, the person who shared what you know, shared it flavoured. It wasn’t pure and now neither are you. 3) We all have blind spots: that contaminated information that you received got filtered, which sounds good, but it got filtered through your bias, filtered through your blind spots.
So what’s the answer? Simple, don’t assume that everything you know is everything, start there.
2. Don’t Play The Blame Game:
Have you noticed that person we blame isn’t always the person responsible? Have you ever wondered why that is? Well the oldest story in the scriptures gives us the answer. Adam and Eve having sinned willfully themselves against God are in hiding and God asks, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” ‘Yes,” would have been a sufficient, open and responsible answer, but instead the man said, “The WOMAN, YOU put here with me – she gave me some fruit…” (Genesis 3:11-12)
Who’s responsible? The man.
Who get’s blamed? The woman errr… God.
We all do it, we’ve been at it for 1000s and 1000s of years. Sometimes we shift blame not onto others but ourselves, parents blame themselves for the actions of their children, children blame themselves for the actions of their parents, pastors blame themselves for … and on it goes. So what’s the answer? Don’t play the blame game.
3. Don’t Take The Moral High Ground
A few words from Jesus should suffice here.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:3-5
The answer: look first into your own soul.
4. Don’t Think Your Actions Are Inconsequential.
We have lost the art of flexibility in thinking. We need to be able to to anticipate consequence as a result of action, consequence that may well be reasonable. One way to predict how something might go is how did this go for others, or how did this go in the past.
Dont be surprised when things go the way things have always gone. Don’t be surprised when others respond the way others have always responded. Don’t be surprised when the seeds you sow produce what they’ve always produced.
It’s the story Jesus tells of the two houses. One built on sand, one built on rock. The inevitable happens in that the storms come and attack the houses. The house on sand is washed away. Time and time alone will tell whether something is built on sand or rock, whether a person has a good heart or not. Time will expose the cracks in our decisions and actions. The answer: Build you life on Jesus. Don’t just have Jesus as your lifeboat have Jesus as your rock, believe me there’s a world of difference.
When you build on the rock, you build with humility and you build with teachability.
A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. – Alexander Pope
Yes, it’s true we are all stupid some of the time and our actions, words and attitudes when they fall foul of these truths above have the impact of diminishing us and diminishing others.
What if we fell foul of these mistakes less often. What if we learned to not assume we know everything or even enough. What if we stopped the blame game, looked into our own souls first and thought through the consequences of our actions, our speech and our attitude.
Let me tell you, our lives would fill up and flood with meaning. Imagine that, living in a way that felt totally purposeful. If you want it, and believe me I do, be less stupid, start there.