Choosing Who We Learn From

Last Tuesday I got a haircut. I love my hairstylist Amy – I’ve written about her before here. She and I are about as different as you can imagine but it’s a good thing. We always have pretty deep conversations about faith, politics, health – you name it. I like to think we learn a lot from each other. This last Tuesday’s conversation was no exception and was a really important reminder for me to be humble.

Amy told me a hard story about feeling out of place and belittled by people she respected. It’s her story so I’m not going to go into the details but it made me think a lot about the people who made her feel unworthy of participating. Why? Because I recognized myself in them. Amy was in a position to offer a unique and valuable voice in a setting outside of her comfort zone. Instead of being welcomed for bringing a different perspective, she got shut down, because the people assumed they had nothing to learn from her.

Here’s the deal: we all want to choose who we learn things from. Some of this choosing is wise (we want to listen to good teachers) and some of it is very, very prideful. We want to only learn from those we admire and respect, from those we assume are more experienced, more mature and more knowledgeable than we are. And when we choose to learn only from those people we perceive as “worthy” of teaching us, we close our minds and hearts to a multitude of other teachers we should be humble enough to hear. All of us prize some kind of intelligence over another whether it’s our IQ, our emotional intelligence our the hard-won insights that come from experience in the school of hard knocks. That’s fine. The trouble occurs when we’re not open to receiving insight from people in our community (or outside of it) who don’t find our mold.

I wonder how often we would be surprised by wisdom if we learned to see it and accept it from unlikely sources.

It reminded me of this passage in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Stay tuned – I have at least one more post I want to write about A Year of Biblical Womanhood but I wanted to share this story while it’s still fresh in my mind.