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"Four Secrets of Success: Ignorance "
by Tom Goodman
July 12, 2007

I'm taking four weeks of LeaderLines to introduce four secrets of success in God-glorifying projects:


Last week we looked at the need for laziness; this week, let's look at ignorance.  And just as there is a difference between laziness and sacred laziness as I said last week, there is a difference between ignorance and sacred ignorance.

The kind of ignorance that leads to success is not the kind that glories in ignorance or has no motivation to overcome ignorance.  What I'm speaking about is a sacred ignorance, the kind that acknowledges that we still have a lot to learn.

Why does that lead to success?  Well, ignorance drives you to seminars and to books and to wise people in hopes of discovering how to improve.  Those who think themselves smart enough and experienced enough don't bother to continue learning, but success comes with continued improvement, continued re-evaluation, continued eagerness for refining the processes.

There's another reason ignorance leads to success:  Ignorant people are willing to try new ideas and experiment with new ways.  Success comes from risk, experiment, and trying new methods; but only the ignorant are willing to do these things.  The ignorant will try just about anything.  They don't know any better.  They just try it.  Who cares if it's never been done that way before?  It might work -- who knows?  Not the ignorant.

You see, I believe that one of the reasons that a church or a business fails is because it has too many smart people.  You can tell a smart person by the fact that when you propose something, he gives you several reasons why it won't work.  Ignorant people, on the other hand, don't know whether the idea will work or not.  That's why they try it.  Will the idea always work?  Not always: sometimes what we try leads to failure.  But that's another key to success, and we'll look at the importance of failure next week.  On the other hand, sometimes an idea works beautifully, no matter what the smart people said.  That's why one key to success is ignorance.  Only the ignorant are willing to try, to risk, to experiment, and to venture.
There are four ways to cultivate the sacred ignorance that leads to wisdom.  The book of Proverbs exposes these four things:

Make it a Priority to Be a Life-Long Learner
Proverbs 18:15 says (TEV): "Intelligent people are always eager and ready to learn."  There should never be a point at which you think you've arrived.  You should always be challenging yourself to grow.
Contrary to popular belief, neither age nor experience automatically brings wisdom.  I'm sure you've heard the phrase before: "Experience is the best teacher."  That only depends on what kind of learner experience has to teach.  Experience alone does not make you wiser.
And neither does age.  Tom Wilson said: "Wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age.  Sometimes age just shows up all by itself."  We have to commit to a lifelong learning process.  When it comes to wisdom, we never fully arrive.
The Fear of the Lord Is the Beginning of Wisdom
That's probably the way some of you learned how to quote Proverbs 1:7.  Here's how the Living Bible puts it: "How does a man become wise?  The first step is to trust and reverence the Lord!"  We have to humble ourselves under his mighty hand, we have to speak and breathe and act and think with the keen awareness that it all passes under his watchful gaze.
Ask God for Wisdom
Proverbs 2:6 says, "It is the Lord who gives wisdom; from him come knowledge and understanding."  I imagine most of us are wrestling with some decision or trying to come to terms with some circumstance we're facing in life.  God says we should ask him and he'll give us wisdom.
Walk with the Wise

That phrase comes right out of Proverbs 13:20, "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm."  In other words, "It's hard to soar with eagles when you walk with turkeys."

So, cultivate a little sacred ignorance.  Become well acquainted with the three little words, "I don't know."  It will drive you improve and make you willing to try new things, and success lies down that road.


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