Idiot Test Number Two

My first Idiot Test was prompted by my observation of people who have much insight into the issues impacting them, but who will not do anything about it. They can articulate their circumstances and the factors creating the problems quite well. They are well researched, well informed, able to clearly articulate details and well equipped to move into action. But they don’t move into action. They simply keep repeating what they know and what they believe should be done.

This is the idiocy of thinking that thumping the table, understanding the problem and being able to convince others is equal to making a real difference.

This kind of idiocy is often prompted by fear of failure, fear of reprisal, protection of their current lifestyle, fear of having to pay a price to make a difference and so on.

The Bible makes an interesting observation about people who know God. It says that those people are not empty dreamers and vain talkers, but people who make a difference and actually “do” something.

“….. but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” Daniel 11:32

Another Type of Idiot

The first idiot is the one who knows enough to do something and who retreats into raving and speaking out, but refuses to move into taking decisive action to make a difference. This person is acquiescent and has given up their right to really make a difference.

But there are other types of idiots. These are those who speak with confidence on various subjects, but who do not really have the goods at all. They have empty opinion, as opposed to the informed position of the previous category.

These other idiots are full of empty opinion and vain imagination. These are the ones who are quick to speak, but slow to learn. They have an opinion about many things, but have done no real research on many of the things they speak up about.

Some Telling Questions

Test yourself with these questions.

Do you find that you have many opinions about many different things?

In a group discussion are you likely to speak up and express your thoughts as much as most others?

Do you tend to speak with authority about things most of the time?

Do you often leave discussions with the warm glow of having contributed to others?

Are you most often the teacher in your communications?

Do you feel that your perspective needs to be contributed or people might miss out on something good?

Do you have an ability to come up with insights on topics you’ve never thought about before?

If you answered “Yes” to half or more of those questions you are in danger of being an idiot!

More Questions

Do you often leave a discussion with new appreciation for the subject being discussed?

Do you make yourself the student in most discussions, rather than the teacher?

Do you decline to answer a question or discuss a topic if you do not have the fuller picture on which to base your answers?

Do you decline to offer your opinion because you know it is only an opinion, and thus of little value to those listening?

Do you admit your lack of competence to answer, committing yourself to engage in research and come back with your documented findings?

Do you find that hearing one explanation does not satisfy you until you have done your own research to find out more?

Do you suspect that there is always more to the story than others seem to believe?

If you answered “Yes” to half or more of those questions you are unlikely to be an idiot.

Quest for the Truth

Students of specialised subjects spend years coming to understand their topic. In their earlier years they will be fooled by appearances and assumptions. In time they will know some of the pitfalls in their topic area and understand the on-going arguments among the experts.

Court cases will sometimes run for months, with hundreds of witnesses, thousands of pieces of evidence, top level legal representation, and yet juries can take many days or weeks to come up with a conclusion.

Some fields of study have involved thousands of man-hours and millions of dollars in search of the best solution to a problem. But even then, the world’s best brains can be diametrically opposed in interpreting the data, conceiving a working concept, and prescribing a path forward.

So, in the light of the amazing difficulty in coming to a sure and certain finding, how is it that some people can come up with instant opinions about things they know nothing about? They cannot truly be the world’s best brain. They are most likely simply another idiot!

Being a Researcher

So, to make sure you are not an idiot you probably need to be a researcher. The ancient example of this mindset is found in Job.

“I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.” Job 29:16

Note the word “search” in our word “research”. Research is the process of “searching out” the truth. It is not jumping to a quick conclusion. It is not finding the first good idea. It is not just trying to impress people with your apparent intelligence. It is a commitment to finding the truth, for the benefit of others, with a diligence that protects them from any mistakes you might otherwise have made.

Research will likely involve hearing from various sides of an argument, and that may mean more than two sides. It will likely involve learning new concepts, developing your vocabulary, stretching your mind, getting out of your comfort zone, changing your preconceived ideas, and, above all, being teachable.

Research Questions

Here are some more questions about the issue of research.

List three issues which you have researched in the past month, where you carefully reviewed the arguments presented by three competing perspectives on the topic, as offered by supporters of those perspectives.

List three issues which you have changed your opinion on in the light of new material offered to you in the past month.

List three cases in the last month where you declined to offer your opinion because your opinion was not sufficiently backed up by research and understanding.

List three cases in the past month where you went back to original source documents to find out if claims made by others are true.

List three new topics which you have added to your areas of exploration in the past month.

List three forums or mentors who you engaged in investigative discussion in the past month to extend and test your understanding of issues. What were the issues under discussion in those cases?

If those challenges seem a little tough, let me go easy on you. Let’s extend the time-frame out to the past year, not the past month. Surely you’ll get a longer list that way.

But if you find that you cannot write such lists, even going back over the past year, then you need to recognise what that says about who and what you are.

You the Child

Now some of you will not be researchers, but you’ll rely on the opinion of someone who you trust. That’s not a bad thing to do. When we enter into new fields of learning we do well to be guided by a mentor or tutor who leads us through the new territory and explains things we don’t understand.

This is particularly valuable when people first come to faith in Christ. They will be greatly benefited by going to a Bible-believing church where clear Bible teaching is given and the support groups and discipling processes are clearly functioning.

However, you need to recognise that in such situations you become a “child”. You are like a child relying on “daddy” to explain the world to you. That has its place, but it is a temporary state, which we are meant to progress past.

Remember the writer of the Book of Hebrews rebuking the Christians because they were still like little children needing to be spoon-fed baby food.

” … you ought to be teachers, but you need people to teach you the first principles again … and you need milk, and not strong meat. Everyone who uses milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a baby. But strong meat belongs to them that are grown up, who have used their senses and built them up to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:12-14

Your challenge is to “put away childish things” as Paul did (1Corinthians 13:11) and stop being spoon-fed. You are now supposed to dig into God’s word and the issues around you, to find the truth and to live by it.

Idiots and Opinions

If you are an idiot you are living in the land of opinion. You are either living on the strength of your own opinions, or you are swallowing the opinions of those around you.

If you are a child, needing the opinions of others to anchor you, then quickly grow past that. Check out what you are being told by your mentors and confirm that it is sound and true.

And remember in all of this, that the greatest source of truth is the Bible. If you are tempted to come to a conclusion that is contrary to faith in God and Jesus Christ or which contradicts what the Bible teaches, then you have been deluded somewhere along the way. Be careful to check your sources and to come to a place of assurance in God’s truth which will set you free.

And, may you be set free from the idiocy of our age!

Idiot Test Revisited

In February this year I posted Idiot Test #1, to prompt people to think about how shallow and useless complaining proves to be. People tend to think that making a verbal complaint to someone of no authority actually accounts for something, when it is quite ineffective. I was piqued by seeing this in action and so I created the Idiot Test.

If you missed the test you can go back and try it at: http://chrisfieldblog.com/ministry/idiot-test-1

The following comments were written in response to questions about why I created the test. They will prompt you to think again about the issues involved. The Idiocy that I am illuminating in the Idiot Test is that of our defeatist mindset.

The test was a throw-together job, so I don’t expect it to stand up to the highest scrutiny from Research Companies or social philosophers. It is a tease, to cause people to at least recognise that if they feel upset about things but are locked in ‘inactivity’ they are not in a good place.

There are many places to go from that starting point, but I am afraid many people will never get onto the starting block. Along the way I will come across some people who are being proactive and finding God’s wisdom about what to do and how to change things, and who will have the personal preparation to be able to be God’s man on the job.

One chap became concerned that a major department store was selling pornographic magazines and so he took action. He went into a store and had his young daughter take a copy of one of the magazines to the counter and pay for it. The chap photographed the exchange and kept the receipt.

He then wrote to the company, which had a policy that these restricted items would only be sold to people over 18 years, and pointed out that the very fact that they stocked these items meant the event which he had photographed could easily be repeated multiple times.

The national company immediately withdrew all their pornography from their stores.

What made that man stand apart from others was that he did not see himself as powerless. He was concerned and prayerfully considered what he might be able to do. Then he went ahead and did it.

He did not need a placard-waving mob to picket the stores. His actions were private and non-sensational, but wonderfully effective.

It has been said that we are responsible for our own ignorance. We achieve our ignorance mostly by blind acceptance of the messages which we are fed on a daily basis.

The devil finds ways to tell us that Christianity and faith are meaningless and irrelevant in the real world. He doesn’t want us standing on God’s Word and being effective.

Those who control our society find ways to tell us that we must comply with every directive or we will be hit with the full force of the law and publicly shamed on the media. They don’t want us exercising our God-given authority and right to question them.

Banks tell us that a few percent is the best return we can get for our money. They want to keep up their record-breaking profits.

Marketers tell us their product is the best on the market. They want us to buy whatever they have, whether it is what we need or not.

Governments tell us there is nothing they can do but go down their chosen path. They want us to lie down and let them do whatever their political agenda directs.

Experts tell us all manner of things. They want us to depend on them and not question the validity of their opinions.

Then the popular media tells us what morals we should have, what goods we should own, what lifestyle we should aspire to and so on.

These are the voices I refer to in my posts about the “Right To Speak” – Check those posts out on my blog:

http://chrisfieldblog.com/ministry/the-right-to-speak

http://chrisfieldblog.com/ministry/logophile-on-jurisdiction

http://chrisfieldblog.com/ministry/no-jurisdiction

The questions you need to settle are: Who are you, really? Who has the right to tell you who you are? What are you doing on planet earth? What has God put you here for? If God has a plan for you then how does who you are fit in with what God wants you to do? If God is your authority then what are the bounds of your personal influence and effectiveness? What are the lies which you have been indoctrinated with since birth which blind you to who you are, the power you have and the destiny which God has called you to fulfil?

In what ways are you abandoning your divine destiny by living for self, loving the world, being conformed to the messages which the world (including the religious world) sends you, and not bothering to do anything about it?

If you are actually living under some delusions and enslavements that stop you being who God created you to be, does that bother you? Are you prepared to live for God if your culture and church friends object? Do you belong to God, yourself or your culture?

Oh, and Where does your truth come from? Do you stand wholeheartedly on what the Bible actually says? Or do you filter everything through human reasoning, on the basis of what seems to make best sense to you? Or do you let experts, unbelievers and ungodly people influence your perception of what is true? Remember Psalm 1:1 refers to “the counsel of the ungodly”. James 3:15 describes human wisdom as devilish.

Now, somewhere in those questions is a journey. But most of us don’t want a journey, we want a comfortable destination. So we settle, like Christian climbing the mount of Difficulty, on some shady spot where we feel pretty good.

Interestingly, Jacob described his life as a journey, a “pilgrimage”, meaning that he never actually “arrived”.

“And Jacob said to Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” Genesis 47:9

That’s why the writer to the Hebrews could speak of the Patriarchs as being ‘pilgrims’.

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he has prepared for them a city.” Hebrews 11:13-16

Life is a ‘pilgrimage’, as we travel on assignment from God.

But most of us want to settle down, into some comfortable niche where we can serve ourselves, find a church that suits us, a job that suits us, a reality that suits us, a calling that suits us, and so on.

And then people settle back to complaining about the things that don’t suit them, but being powerless to do anything about it, because they have lost contact with the God who called them to a powerful life.

Our effectiveness comes from finding ourselves in God’s plan, with His power and wisdom at our disposal, because we have determined to be a person who fulfils divine destiny, despite how much that upsets our comfort zone.

If we have not come to that place then we will fit in with the demands of others. We may wave placards, get on our soap box at work, write letters of complaint and so on, with some effect. But we will be missing the true and more powerful impact we can have.

However, being more powerful than the general community means we need to go a little further than the local community, in our study of God’s Word, our education about what is really going on, our understanding of who God created us to be, and so on.

Can You Pass the IDIOT Test? #1

Here’s a picture of someone about to do something silly…. Hmmmm

There are many things that make people idiots, and they have nothing to do with knowing facts.
The most dangerous and idiotic things you will do will be linked to attitudes, responses, choices and irresponsibility, not failing an exam about this or that.

So, I am preparing several IDIOT tests, to help you find out if you are foolish, irresponsible or otherwise dangerous to yourself and others.

So…. Are you ready for the first IDIOT Test?

You know you’re an IDIOT when …..

1. You complain about what other people have done or are doing.

Do you complain about the voters who elected your Government?
Do you complain about what your Govt is doing?
Do you complain about petrol prices?
If so, you are probably an Idiot!!!

But You Protest

“OK”, you say, “What’s so idiotic about that?”
It’s idiotic because complaining is delusive.
People who complain gain the impression they have actually done something meaningful.
When someone dominates a committee meeting with an hour of their complaints and heartfelt protests they probably think they have actually DONE something!
When people get on their soap-box in the lunchroom and have everyone agreeing with their insights into what others are doing, they probably think they have actually DONE something!
But they have done nothing but waste their time and delude themselves.

Empty Protests

Have you ever seen reports of protest groups blocking the front entrance to some building? If you watch real carefully you will find out that those going to the building just use the back door and the meeting or event they were planning goes ahead anyway.
But all those people shouting on the pavement get a bit of media coverage and feel as if they have really achieved something. The following year, when the same event is on again, the protesters line up to do it all again.
And, yes, on some occasions the publicity may actually get them somewhere, but mostly not.

So, compare that to the man among his friends,  drink in hand, waxing lyrical about whatever he has an opinion about. Others join in and argue or agree. An hour or two might pass and they might actually have covered a wide range of opinions and insights. But the protest is usually empty.

Making A Difference

Compare that with the person who steps out of the crowd, or goes home from work, to research the matter, find out how to make a difference and who then engages in the effective and appropriate process to deal with and change the things others are simply huffing and puffing about.

Most people have no intention of making a difference. They simply want to hear their own voice and vent their spleen in a self-gratifying tirade. They don’t make a difference. They relegate themselves to the group called the “irrelevant”.

They continue to be treated with disregard by those who make things happen, because they can neither help nor hinder the processes. They are simply a whinger on the sidelines, who doesn’t even know what to do and who won’t do anything even when they know what to do!

Am I Being An Idiot?

Here I am protesting about what other people do. So, doesn’t that make me fit my own description? Am I not simply a whinger?

If you came up with that observation yourself, I congratulate you. That’s the kind of attentiveness we need. Yes, I am whinging. I am protesting the behaviour of others. I am doing it in order to make a difference.

I am creating this series of IDIOT Tests in order to prompt you to consider what you are doing, so that you (and I) can do differently from here on. I am taking ACTION, and action is what is needed.

Hearer or Doer

The Bible assures us that hearing the right messages makes no difference, but DOING something about it is vital.
“For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law will be justified.” Romans 2:13
If we hear the issues and do nothing about it we “deceive” ourselves.
“Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James 1:22

All those you hear whinging about things this coming week are probably well informed, concerned about the right things and able to articulate their thoughts quite well. But they are wasting your time. And that goes for you, when you are the one doing the whinging.

If you do not DO something about the issues then you make yourself irrelevant, despite your complaining.

Expert Whinger

A few weeks ago I met an expert whinger. He was educated and articulate and had researched the problems he brought up. We met casually and we grazed through several subjects for a while. When he got onto his pet subject I became excited. He seemed to be well-informed, insightful and equipped with some good ideas about what to do. I eagerly asked him what he was going to do.
He replied, “Nothing. What’s the use of doing anything?”
I slumped on the spot. He was everything I could have hoped him to be, except that he was unwilling to do anything. Suddenly all of his insights and knowledge became worthless.

I tried to encourage him to action, but he had clearly decided a long time ago that “it is no use”.

I realised then that many people are idiots. It is not intelligence that they lack, nor information, insight or the like. What they lack is resolve to DO something. Therefore they become idiots.

Do You Pass the Test?

How did you go on this IDIOT Test?
Are you another idiot, or are you one of those who patiently, consistently and effectively works to change the very things others complain about?
I pray that you are a man of action, a person of wisdom, and someone who will DO what you know needs to be done.

I’m looking for a group of such people, to help me in my own movement into effectiveness.

Ping me on Twitter or Facebook, or email me, to tell me how you went on this test.
Stung – but willing to change!
Just scaped through!
Pass With Honours!
Or maybe,
What idiot test? I didn’t see an idiot test. Am I missing something?”
Duh!

Chris can be contacted by email at: chris@chrisfieldblog.com

His Twitter ID is: http://twitter.com/chrisfieldblog

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