This post is written to link with Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one-word prompt. The prompt today is “experience.”
“The only way to get good judgement is through experience. The only way to get experience is through bad judgement.”
I have no idea who wrote these words, but I spent three years of my life regularly pondering them. Scrawled large on the wall of the university toilet cubicle, I couldn’t avoid them, and no matter how many times I read them, they always got me thinking.
Even at 19 years old, I could see there was some truth in them – it wasn’t difficult to identify lessons learned through bad judgement, and I could see that with more experience the better your judgement was likely to become.
But was it the only way?
Ever the perfectionist, I didn’t want this statement to be true. Was there not a better way to learn than by making mistakes?
I pondered this many times without reaching a conclusion…
Today’s FMF prompt has brought me back to these words that I probably haven’t thought about in 15 years, and I think I’ve finally decided…
Turns out my 19 year-old judgement wasn’t so bad after all, because, while there is truth in the statement, I don’t think it is true.
Yes, we can gain good judgement through experience, but we can also gain it by listening to others’ experience and learning from their wisdom. And, as Christians, we can also gain it by the Holy Spirit working in us. We have the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) and we have God’s promise of his wisdom and equipping. (James 1:5)
And while we can gain experience through bad judgement, we can also gain it through circumstances of life that have nothing to do with our judgement at all, as well as through our good judgement as we step out and follow God’s leading.
It’s reassuring that God can work even through our bad judgement, but there are also other, more helpful, ways to learn.
And if you’re looking for a quote about finding good judgement, let me point you to the words below. They might not be quite as snappy as the slogan on the toilet wall, but they contain much more wisdom and truth!
“Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.
Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.
Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.
Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God.
For the Lord grants wisdom!
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.
He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.”
(Proverbs 2:2-8 NLT)