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So, I got an email …
No surprise, I get hundreds of emails every week. However, this one made me panic for a second.
“Pastor Kurt, I’m thinking about visiting your church, but I can’t find the address or service times anywhere on your church website.”
We just redesigned our website. It’s cool. It’s current. It’s dope. It’s amazing! There’s no way we missed putting this basic and critical info on our brand-new killer site.
We didn’t. The address and service times were there, just down the Home page a bit. Apparently, this dear person didn’t know how to scroll on a website. (Panic attack over.)
But then it struck me—often, too often, we suffer from the curse of knowledge.
What is the curse of knowledge?
The curse of knowledge happens when you are so familiar with something (like scrolling down a page on a website) that you forget what it’s like not to know.
We forget we were once unenlightened and clueless, and we operate as if everybody knows what we know. But they don’t.
Let me give you another example.
Remember when you were learning to drive? Everything was new, and you were stressed out trying to do all that needed to be done. It was terrifying.
Most of what you do now while driving is almost automatic. You don’t think, Okay . . . first I let off the gas . . . while simultaneously depressing the clutch pedal . . . while shifting from 1st to 2nd.
Nope. You don’t think about it; you just do it.
Years ago, when I was attempting to teach my son how to drive a stick shift, my frustrationometer went from 0-60 in about four nanoseconds. Why? Because I’d forgotten what it was like not to know how to drive and shift at the same time without grinding the gears to shreds.
The curse of knowledge is real. It happens all the time, and it’s a source of much relational tension between the informed and the not-yet-informed (which is a much nicer way of saying the ignorant).
A woman joins your team at work. She’s been a stay-at-home mom for a while but needed to get a job. Are you kind and patient with her because you remember how long it took you to figure out how to use the super-turbo-tech Z-3000 copier at work? Or will you succumb to the curse and treat her like an idiot?
You need to change a business flight because your boss didn’t bother to tell you until today that the meeting is on Tuesday, not Wednesday. So, you call the airline, and it takes you about two minutes to figure out that you know more about the flight schedule options than the newbie on the phone at Delta. Do you see this as an opportunity to grow in your patience and to encourage someone who’s got a lot to learn? Or will you allow the curse to make you curse?
Someone walks into your church who hasn’t been to church for about a thousand years. What’s more, the traditional church they did attend on Easter Sunday of ’98 wasn’t anythinglike your contemporary church is now. Can you imagine how they feel? Are you aware of or even remembering the courage it takes to walk into a new place, clueless about what to expect or what’s expected of you? (Think about your first day at college.)
Here’s the antidote to the curse: Remember what it’s like not to know. Then do for others what others did for you when you were ignorant, unaware, and totally confused.
Look at things, and especially at people, with the heart of someone who remembers what it’s like not to know what you now know.
Then smile and say, “I know this is tough. I remember my first day. It’s okay. In no time, you’ll be a pro. Hang in there. Everything is fine.”
Always keep in mind, knowledge should be a gift, a gift you graciously give to others, rather than a curse that makes you arrogant and others miserable.
For the record: gifts are good; curses are bad.
So, be a gift!
“Be kind and compassionate to one another.”
How is God encouraging you today?
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