Wisdom vs. Folly | Refraining from Speaking

In the past, I loved being right.

It’s something that came natural to me early on in school.

When we were working on a problem as a class and people didn’t know the answer — I did. People would look to me in those situations.

When the class was silent, I would speak. I would even volunteer the answer beforehand. I was confident in my intelligence.

Eventually though… I have lost the desire to be right all the time. It simply doesn’t matter.

When people are insistent that their incorrect answer or belief is the right one… it’s not always worth fighting. Why should it be?

I sit quietly.

Sometimes today when I say something and someone says a countering or differing response, I say nothing and pretend I never even heard them. It’s not important.

They can sit there and try to argue all they want but it’s not worth my energy. If they are closed-minded and don’t want to entertain that there could be another possible right answer… then that’s okay.

Here’s the Proverb that I reference in my mind now. There are so many passages in the book of Proverbs talking about the connection with restraint and wisdom.

“The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”
—‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭17:27–28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

People see the outside appearance.

They see what you do and what you don’t do. People will never know if you’re truly wise or not — only by action.

I used to rarely talk and people thought that I was the smartest kid around (and maybe I was).

Then I came out of my shell and started speaking more often… many times by interrupting other people when they were talking. That was ignorant of me and definitely put me in a bad light.

Let’s just say that the reputation I had was now rattled and shaking. Was I really a smart guy or was I just full of folly? I could tell that people were questioning that and to be honest — so was I.

At that point I continued to see the message, “would you rather be right or be rich?” That truly gave me pause and made me reconsider.

I had to think about it further.

“You are an individual, you are responsible for yourself. You determine who you are and what defines you.” — Brad Lea

“The resilience you exhibit in the face of adversity will be what defines you as a person.” — Stephen Schwarzman

“How are you going to brush off negativity if you can’t delete a contact out of your phone? You want to make the path to success lighter, don’t you? There should not be people around you who only say yes. You can validate ANYTHING” — Tim Grover

“Most doors are not worth entering, even when the handle seems to turn so effortlessly.” — Rolf Dobelli

To wrap it up with a few more thoughts of my own… here are some verses from Proverbs that inspired this piece a few weeks ago:

“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”
— Proverbs 18:2 NIV
“To answer before listening — that is folly and shame.”
— Proverbs 18:13 NIV
“When you are wise, you don’t feel the need to speak.
When you are full of folly, you desire to voice your truth.”
—Harrison Wendland

I’m not implying in the slightest that we should remain silent in all situations. It’s just imperative that we understand there is no need to always be the first to speak.

Beyond that, it’s incredibly absurd to believe that we always need to be “heard” that’s simply not true — that’s entitlement.

And I’ll close with something I first said in November of 2019:

“I don’t write to be relevant — I write about things I find to be relevant.” — Harrison Wendland

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