What an interesting topic. My cousin and I were chatting and she made the statement “Self Induced Ignorance”. I found her choice and framing of the words unusually striking and it immediately got my attention. Although I understood it’s meaning, God compelled me to pull my dictionary in an attempt to extract the clearest understanding of each word in isolation.

  1. Self: One’s own self. A person’s nature, character, etc.
  2. Induced: To bring about, produce or cause; Activate; Stimulate. E.g The medicine will induce sleep.
  3. Ignorance: Lacking in knowledge/information or training; unlearned; uninformed; unaware.

If I had to rephrase this I would pen it as follows, “One’s own self producing unlearned and uninformed ways”. Yes, that is most of us a lot of times, actively engaging in “Self Induced Ignorance”, in one form or another and we bring things on ourselves. Stuck in a paradigm of knowledge inertia and not wanting to open our eyes and broaden our thinking. Especially in times of difficulty or uncertainty, we just stick to what we know to help us navigate the situation. And it is in times like these we need to rest down our current way of thinking and adopt a new approach. After all, most times it is our present way of thinking and by extension acting which brought us into that difficult and challenging place.

Let me ask you this? How much of us go through marital problems and proactively attend counselling to obtain knowledge on how to improve? Or have a communication problem with someone and purchase a book that teaches you to better communicate? Have you ever gone through some personal challenges and willfully gathered friends who you know will side with you? Or did you take the approach to surround yourself with friends who won’t tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear?

When we don’t apply the approaches as mentioned above or any other form of it, we take much longer to grow and develop or in some cases can literally die in our state. Some marriages die, some friendships are dissolved, children go astray, employer-employee relations are terminated, all because we choose to keep ourselves in a state of ignorance. Then in the future we look back and say, “If I knew then, what I know now…”. It has happened to all of us, we say if only I had the knowledge then, I would have saved more money, invested my income more wisely, and the list goes on…

As the few aforementioned pointers highlight, there are serious implications for lacking knowledge at the right time during key moments in our lives. Operating without knowledge can be dangerous and far reaching. So what causes this lackluster approach to developing ourselves (getting wiser) which results in some of us remain and maintain an ignorant mindset? We’ll there are many things which cause this, but I will simply list a few:

  1. Subject Matter Expert (SME) Attitudes: Never think that you know everything even if you are considered a leading figure or expert in your field. There is always new research, and knowledge to be acquired daily. Always frame your thinking to adopt the position that there is always something new to learn; be it inside or outside ones sphere. And never let knowledge make you  full of pride (1 Corinthians 8:1)
  2. Seeing Things as Simple: I will like to share this from a personal example. Last year a brother from church offered the congregation coconut trees to plant. Our men’s group volunteered to plant them for all who were interested. After all, how hard can planting a coconut plant be. As an executive of the men’s group I distinctly remembered my Pastor asking me, “do you all know how to plant coconut trees?”. With a quick rebuttal I said yes. I walked away thinking that was a strange question, because I perceived the task at hand as simple. Only to realize when planting time came around that planting a coconut plant is not as straight forward and simple as I first thought (ref: planting coconuts) and they are planted differently from regular plants. I suffered from a serious bout of Self Induced Ignorance. Assuming we know things even when they are simple in nature can cause us to make missteps and keep us ignorant.
  3. Impatience: There are many things that seem easily understandable on the surface but when we drill down, they have multiple layers of complexity. To solve such situations, all it will take is some time, patience and the desire to truly know that is happening. Sometimes we are too impatient and jump to conclusions without finding out all the facts. As some on

Because of all of the above and much more one of my favorite scripture has come to be:

Hosea 4:6 “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge”.  “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.

Staying ignorant not only affects us but also our children and the people we come in contact with.

Someone once told me that, “anytime a man is continually failing he is counseling himself”. Or put another way, having persons counsel us in our own way of thinking is fruitless. Our God wants us to succeed in everything we do and for us to do this we must embrace a teachable spirit and become lifelong learners in all aspects of our lives. Learn God by learning His word, become an active reader/learner, surround yourself with friends that will give you honest and objective feedback and obtain a meek and lowly spirit which is willing to learn from anyone, young or old.

From this day forth let “self-induced Ignorance” NOT be found in us! So when we are old and grey we can look back with little regret. At that stage we will only be praising God for his wisdom and guiding hand in our lives which brought blessings on every turn.

I leave you with the following Scriptures:

Colossians 3:10 (KJV) 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

Ecclesiastes 7:12 (KJV) 12 For wisdom is a defense, and money is a defense: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.

Proverbs 24:3-6 By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; 4 And by knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches. 5 A wise man is strong, And a man of knowledge increases power. 6 For by wise guidance you will wage war, And in abundance of counselors there is victory.

PS: This blog entry is dedicated to my cousin Casey.