Wisdom is necessary for life’s journey: if for no other reason than to give one rational assistance in avoiding taking unnecessary missteps. For the thinking man, wisdom is applied knowledge after years of being tested in the field and found to be true because of the evidence that it works. For the spiritual man, wisdom is a gift of beauty from God that givens him enlightenment and peace for his travels, whether through peaceful valleys or over perilous mountains. Regardless of any man’s or woman’s worldview, once they start facing different tribulations, no matter the extent of such events, it is highly unlikely for them to deny the need for wisdom. One can be arrogant and think of themselves as a know-it-all and self-sufficient, however, life is a wonderful teacher that helps all of us learn that we should take heed the words of a wise counselor.
The wonderful thing about wisdom is that it can surprise you by coming from anyone. You just have to be open to new people and patient enough to hear their story. Well, there are five gentlemen at the institution where I work that have been quite an influence on me (and I imagine many others besides their own families). These men are all men of honor and intellect. They all know a lot of things, but each are wise enough to know that they do not know everything. This reveals just one reason I love the bunch: they each live by humility. Why be arrogant when there is a far more beautiful way of connecting with others and communicating with them?
Each gentleman was willing and able to speak with me whenever the moment presented itself. What started off as an association between coworkers evolved into a helpful and healthy relationship between friends. Whereas I started off just interacting with them on the institution’s campus, ultimately, I ended up breaking bread with each brother and a fellowship could take place after work hours. A connection started off with each person for varying reasons: we all have found some common ground by our Christian faith. Our faith is what drives us, undergirds us, and motivates us all to be better men. Our travel manual – the Bible – has a book called ‘Proverbs’ that is filled with the very wisdom that we all believe is needed for living. But it has been quite beneficial to me, a man of faith, to go to these men of faith and receive wisdom that is in alignment with the Book of our faith at the very times when I cannot get to that very Book. A truly wise man (of the faith) should be seen leading a life that his faith has called him to lead. These five saints (albeit human and imperfect in one way or another) try to live by what they have spoke to me.
I can think back to many occasions where I have been reminded of the importance and the weight that one carries being a father and a husband. Those reminders came from none other than one man by the name of Abercrombie. Whenever I wanted to get negative about being a father (as I had determined as a young man to never become one), he calmly smiled, reminded of the joy that comes from being a dad, and gave me a book to read. Even recently, when I found myself struggling as a man and a husband, I asked to meet with him over lunch. He sat me down at a nearby Hardee’s and said: “Before we came here today, I prayed that God would give me the wisdom to give to you!” This struck me. He knew I was coming to him for wisdom and he was humble enough to know that he needed to ask his Maker to give him the very thing that I myself was needing. After we went our separate ways, I felt uplifted and with a renewed desire to continue in growing to be a better man and a wiser husband.
Now, while it is a blessing to receive wisdom on such vital aspects of life, such as manhood and family, one can be given knowledge on politics or other social matters when coming into contact with other thoughtful gentlemen (and college educators, along with Abercrombie) like a man named DiNicola and another named Pridemore. I cannot remember how many conversations Mr. DiNicola and I have had on the modern-day issues that humans face on a daily basis. He reminds me of some of the uncles of my childhood: they always had some knowledge to give to you and could find a way to make you simultaneously. The difference is Mr. DiNicola is much smarter. His peaceful manner and hearty laughter belies the intellect that this gentleman possesses. One look at his office, which is filled with all kinds of tomes touching on a variety of topics, including philosophy, religion, and science, will give the perception that he is a deep thinker. One hearing of his ideas and thoughts on modern man and you will find that he is a deep thinker. His personal library is not just for show. Mr. Pridemore is quite similar. He is a typically tolerant person and has quite the knowledge when it comes to the subject of Political Science, which is what he teaches. He has made himself available to me on a number of occasions when I wanted to interview him about politics and for my own career aspirations. He proved himself to be a trove of knowledge because of his background as a campaigner for President Jimmy Carter once upon a time and his career as a businessman.
Then, there are the two closet intellectuals of my institution’s police department: Davis and Ryles. After years of working in law enforcement, they are without a doubt good at what they do. Nevertheless, they do not only have the ability to protect and to serve, they are can enlighten you with the best of them. Law enforcement officials have been given a bad rap over the last few years, due to the inaction or overreaction of some. Well, Davis and Ryles are two examples of how police officers should be: thoughtfully engaging the community, while keeping an air of respectability with their authority. Both have also given me things to think about when it comes to politics, religion, and fatherhood. Like the aforementioned fellows above, these two have discussed heavy subjects with me while enjoying a meal or two. These two round out what I call my “wise council”. A group of down-to-earth scholars and saints that have been and continue to be a benefit and blessing to me.
I would encourage anyone to get yourself a wise council to give you some wise counsel. You may be surprised the next time that you run into some tough situation that you feel as if you are going through some form of deja vu. However, it won’t be “deja vu”, you will just have someone else’s wisdom to lead you and it may feel like you have been there before. Maybe we all can end up living as it says in the twentieth verse of the nineteenth chapter of Proverbs: “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”