I read a legend in primary school some decades back about a cunning, hilarious and sometimes controversial character called Kwaku Ananse who one day collected all the wisdom in the world and put them in a gourd. He then decided to hide the gourd on top of a tall coconut tree so no man could have access to it.
In his attempt to climb the coconut tree Kwaku Ananse, with all the wisdom in the world at his disposal, put the gourd hung around his neck on his stomach and attempted to climb the coconut tree.
He found it quite difficult to climb the tree in all his three attempts.
Unknowingly looking at him from a hidden corner was his own son, known as Ntikuma. When Ntikuma saw his father’s predicament he drew near him and told him to hang the gourd at his back to enable him climb the tree. When Ananse saw the wisdom in his son’s suggestion he became very disappointed. He found out that he had not been able to collect all the wisdom after all. He subsequently got annoyed, removed the gourd around his neck and hit it hard on the ground, breaking it in the process.
According to the legend, people around came to scramble for pieces of wisdom which had scattered on the ground. Those who could not get some lacked wisdom.
Kwaku Ananse climbing a coconut tree with a gourd hanging on his stomach
Well, if that was how some people got wisdom many, many centuries ago, the same cannot be said of today. Like manna, wisdom has long failed to fall freely from heaven.
Readers will agree with me that wisdom is an indispensable virtue to have, after all nobody likes to be known as a fool or be an ignorant person.
The Almighty God says ‘’Wisdom is better than strength,’’ and has any wise person ever doubted that?
The honest truth is that not all people have wisdom. You can observe this from the way some people think and behave, or rather misbehave. Wisdom is an intuitive thing which makes it easy for some people to take wise decisions without much ado. You have to learn it if you do not have that intuition but the condition is you must be someone who has interest or desire for love and wisdom.
You must have at least a mustard seed’s worth, just like faith, to be able to live your life meaningfully because without wisdom you have no course of guidance, and you are just like the blind.
You will not get wisdom the way Kwaku Ananse unintentionally gave it away freely. You have to make a conscious effort to get wiser by carefully studying nature and human behavior. In West African communities if the level of your wisdom does not match your age you are just like those who got nothing in Ananse’s time. It is expected that the older you get, the wiser you become.
If you agree that you have to learn wisdom in order to be able to take prudent decisions, make right choices and see the difference between good and bad, follow me as I guide you through these 7 ways to acquire wisdom as you grow older.
As I have already stated if you are not gifted with wisdom you have to learn something to acquire it. Come on……
- Be Observant
Be very observant in life. Study your environment; observe the growth of plants and animals and their behavior under different conditions.
Study the different plants in your environment. For example how many days a mushroom plant takes from a sprouting state to full growth; be interested in flowers, small ants and how they live, other minute and latent things in nature that you may not find written in books.
You can study birds to know how and when they sing, the different songs one bird can sing and other interesting facts about them that people don’t bother about knowing.
You can observe or study which types of clouds bring rain, or where earthworms hide during dry seasons. All these seem useless and irrelevant little things to you but the fact is that they open your mind to certain things.
You have to study the character and behavior of people with whom you live or work. The essence is to know how and when to socialize or relate to them.
All persons have good and bad sides. It is the part of yourself you first show to someone that the one also shows back to you. Show the good side always so far as it depends on you.
Note that there are few stubborn people everywhere who have bad sides all over them and no matter which side you show them you will always find them bad. Just turn away if you meet such people. Never argue or fight with them because they never understand anything or see anything good apart from their own views and actions.
- Read the Word of God Often
The Word of God is written in His Holy Book, the Bible by the power of the Holy Spirit, so it is a unique book.
It was written to give us inspiration and guidance and is the source of wisdom for many generations.
There is nothing happening right now in your life that you won’t find its basis or relevance in this inspirational book.
The Book of Proverbs has many verses about wisdom and in certain chapters personalizes wisdom as a woman who is advising people to seek her.
The Bible teaches that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It provides answers on many of the world’s problems as well as those of individual people.
The Bible accounts of its major characters have been written to guide us in our lives. Apart from Jesus and a few others who were faultless most of its characters were people who made mistakes or sinned. Just look at these four examples:
- Adam and Eve failed to obey God’s specific instructions not to eat from a specific tree. – Gen 2: 15-17
- Moses grew angry and struck the rock in disobedience to God. – Numbers 20:12
- Ananias and Sapphira kept back part of the price of land sold.- Acts 5: 1-5.
- David committed adultery and murder. – 2 Samuel 11: 2-5
If you know some of these stories it will help you to make an informed decision whenever the need arises and people will respect you for your wisdom.
- Learn from Wise and Elderly People
You must seek counsel from people who are older and wiser than you. Each of us meets a problem of some sort at one time or the other in life. That happens irrespective of your financial or social status because not all problems are money related.
Older persons must have experienced your kind of problem or might have some knowledge of it to be able to give you a better option of action than you can think of by yourself.
Wisdom is that experience which allows you to make right decisions after careful analysis of situations.
When you walk with an older person be very inquisitive. Take the opportunity to ask questions to seek knowledge. It may be your opportunity for free tuition.
Of course not all knowledgeable or wise people give their advice for free if they find your question is a comprehensive one, so just ask simple questions that demand simple answers, and make research if you need further details.
- Be able to Listen Attentively
If you have the opportunity to ask a question as above you have to listen attentively when a response is given. It’s not only in that situation that attentive listening is important but in every situation where you are receiving information.
Knowing how to listen is an important tool in communication. It allows you to fully understand your speaker to know the basis of his message or information.
When a speaker observes that you are listening to him with all your attention it shows him you are interested in his information.
Listening half-way or getting distracted does not allow you to get to the root cause of a problem, lest offer a sound judgment on it.
Judges are attentive listeners; they have to listen attentively to both sides in a dispute to be able to give a wise judgment. Cultivate that habit.
- Have Patience
If you want to acquire wisdom you must have a lot of patience; the patience to listen, the patience to observe and the patience to wait for results. Certain things in nature move slowly and you must have the matching patience to watch it or wait for it to happen. For example you must have the patience to watch how a tadpole develops into a frog or how a calf develops into a cow, even how a baby girl develops into motherhood.
Book reading and hearsay are ways to get information but your own live experience of predictable or unpredictable events surpasses all. You can boldly describe your own experience with more confidence than what you probably heard or read.
Read here in brief how Jacob endured patience:
Jacob loved Rachel and worked 7 years for Laban, her father in order to marry her. At the end of the 7 years Rachel’s elder sister Leah whom he did not love was rather given to Jacob because according to Laban, their tradition did not permit a younger daughter to be given to marriage before the senior one.
In order to marry Rachel, the woman of his heart, Jacob had to work for another 7 years, making a total of 14 years patience with hard work in order to get the woman he loved.
Which one of us now living will be willing to emulate Jacob at this present time? My foot, that is Bible time story, not for us……..
But this episode was recorded in the Bible to teach you more than one lesson in life. Ponder over it seriously.
- Learn More Proverbs
Proverbs are sayings of wise men that give advice or express some truth in nature.
In the African context much reference is made to proverbs in solving complex problems because there is much wisdom in them.
From your meticulous observation of life events and natural occurrences you can come up with some assertive statement that no one can doubt. This is just an example of what I am trying to express, you can watch a particular weather pattern in your area over a period of time say 9 or 10 years and note that when certain birds fly over the area in the middle of the year, a particular event will happen.
Before making such strong assertion you must have studied the situation over a period of time and are sure of your observation.
Proverbs summarize stories about some truths that can never be doubted. Learn a lot of these wise sayings; they will open your mind to certain situations and you will be able to also understand certain things in life.
- Ask God for Wisdom in Your Prayers
King Solomon of Israel was synonymous with wisdom. The King, when asked by God for whatever he wanted to be given, prayed for wisdom and knowledge.
Today, if people had the opportunity to be asked the same question by God, many will opt for money, that’s for sure. I have never heard Pastors praying for people to get wisdom, well may be I don’t hear of it; it is always money and prosperity forever and ever, amen. Even the congregation may rebuke a Pastor who prays for wisdom for them instead of money. So it is; money lovers instead of lovers of God.
One vital way and the last here to acquire wisdom is to ask God for it in your prayers. In fact it is not a one-off thing. Pray constantly over a long period, so start today. If you continue fervently it will come at a time you least expect it. For the Bible says ‘’ If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.’’
What is more reassuring than this assurance, my people? Just waggling around when the procedure has clearly been stated for you to follow? This is it.
Wisdom without God is no wisdom at all. It is rather stupidity and very harmful because wisdom based on men’s knowledge alone is nothing. God will make the wisdom of the wise men perish and shove aside the intelligence of the intellectual men. He said it, not me. I am only re-echoing it.
Before winding up I like you to know how to identify a wise man and follow his footsteps if there is one among a group of people. You can identify them not by their beard but by the following traits among others:
- They are very gentle and of a calm disposition.
- They are very good listeners. They hardly interrupt when listening.
- They speak slowly and thoughtfully.
- They usually speak last at forums or discussions.
- They hardly get to extremes of emotions.
- They are assertive and stand by what they say.
- They like to advocate for peace whenever there is trouble.
Thanks for reading to this point. God richly bless you with wisdom as you seek it.