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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Dear Hannah: LEarning (A Wise Man Conceals Knowledge (Proverbs 12-23))

Dear Hannah,

Remember my sharing on Proverbs 12:24 ... when I mentioned that most proverbs describe two distinct pathways that individuals have the opportunity to choose - and bear the fruit, the consequences, or some of both?

Well, here we go again.

Let's wrestle with Proverbs 12:23 now ...



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"LEarning (A Wise Man Conceals Knowledge (Proverbs 12-23)) (4-13-2018)"
By Derrick Brown

Remember my sharing on Proverbs 12:24 ... when I mentioned that most proverbs describe two distinct pathways that individuals have the opportunity to choose - and bear the fruit, the consequences, or some of both?

Well, here we go again.

Let's wrestle with Proverbs 12:23 now.

For posterity, Proverbs 12:24 says "The diligent person will rule, but the slothful (lazy) will become a slave".

If you are wondering why I started this series by sharing about Proverbs 12:24 first - it was because I referenced the verse numbers incorrectly.

I thought I was starting with the first one first.

Mistakes can happen - especially when you think you know what you are doing ... because you do not check.

As it turned out, though, dealing with the verses out of sequence provided some necessary wisdom to deal with Proverbs 12:24 ... wisdom about how easy it is to make mistakes by believing that we are infallible.

Hence the need for diligence - eh?

So forgive me for being out of order (pun intended).

Proverbs 12:23 says "The shrewd person conceals knowledge, but foolish people publicize folly (their foolishness)."

Allow me a moment to do some helpful wordsmithing - then I will proceed.

The words "shrewd" and "wise" are synonymous - but "shrewd" refers to "practical, hard-headed intelligence".

It is a special kind of wisdom.

Think of it as "wisdom earned from lessons learned".

The word "conceal" means "to prevent from being seen".

Now please allow me this one analogy.

You do not conceal wealth to never use or enjoy it.

You conceal wealth to use it wisely and appropriately.

If you are thinking along with me, you have perhaps been taught that wealth is knowledge ... and knowledge is wealth.

So it sounds like we are done unpacking this thing, right?

Hold your knowledge until the right time, and express it in the right way.

Meeting's over - let's eat.

Slow down, son.

When is the "right" time?

What is the "right" way?

Any time we start talking and thinking about "right" ... we are probably about to do something "strong" and "wrong".

Truth is, you can think the time is right, and still profess something that blows up in your face.

Trust me, I have done this more than I can count ... and made quite a mess.

Some of those messes did not get cleaned up in real time.

To the contrary, the lessons and learning took place after the fact, and had to be applied to subsequent experiences.

So let me take some time and reflect on places I have been, and messes I have made.

Then let's talk about cleaning up those messes.

Indulge me once more, though - by allowing me to share a quote that captures at least some of the wisdom in Proverbs 12:23.

The quote goes "Those who tell don't know ... those who know don't tell".

I have gotten into and out of a lot of trouble by applying and misapplying that quote.

I have also missed more than a few opportunities by not speaking up.

Thank God for mercy and growth.

Proverbs 12:23 says "The shrewd person conceals knowledge, but foolish people publicize folly (their foolishness)."

There are lots of directions to take here.

Marriage & parenting, and mentoring (both as the the student and teacher) all provide a wealth of examples on sharing knowledge at the right time.

Let's save those for a future episode, though.

Trust me - it's not the right time for those.

Let me instead focus on sharing two imperfect stories from my entrepreneurial and partnership building efforts ... 

The entrepreneurial story will probably sound straightforward.

It happened many years ago - a simpler time in life - and I have had many years to digest and understand the experience.

The partnership building effort has lots of layers and nuances to understand.

I am still learning and growing with this one.

Story 1: Car Stereo Auction

I love auctions - and buying and selling in general.

I used to attend lots of "live" auctions.

I once attended one that liquidated a bunch of Sony car stereos - including several of the fancy trunk-mounted 10-disc CD players (that had just come out).

Yep - this was over 20 years ago when I was a graduate student at Georgia Tech.

This auction house allowed inspections one hour before the auction started.

It rained hard that morning, so I got to the inspection first.

I was alone.

I'm thinking "this is good".

I got to take each CD changer out of its box to check them carefully.

I had only recently gotten home Internet access, and did not have a cell phone - so there was no on-site online research option.

I had an old Crutchfield Stereo catalog curled up in my back pocket - this was my reference.

I looked up enough to understand that these CD changers were a goldmine.

I went to the pay phone and started calling my classmates who loved music (at 8 AM).

I knew their phone numbers by heart, and always carried quarters.

I found 3 other customers (besides me).

The auction starts in a few minutes, and now folks are taking quick glances at the items that I have spent the last hour inspecting.

I wear "skullies" (sweater caps) to auctions - because no one else did.

My caps always had colorful embroidery, so they stood out.

I stand behind everyone at auctions (so they cannot see me), but go meet the auctioneer first and tell them where I will be.

This makes them look for you once the bidding starts.

I am quiet by nature, so I don't shout my bids, or nod, or pull my ear and sneeze.

I am subtle.

I put my hands in my pocket, or take them out.

I rotate the logo on my skullie.

That's how I bid.

That's how I conceal knowledge, then reveal it at the "right" time.

The CD changers were up for bid first.

This was a "modified" Yankee auction, so when I won the bid, I got to declare them number of items I wanted.

There were 5 CD changers.

I said "give me all 5".

I was done for the day.

When I went to pay for and pick up my goods, this dude followed me.


He approached me, and asked me if I would sell him one.


Give me your number, and I will call you if I have one left.

I sold them all that weekend.

That kind of extra cash was important during the grad school days.

Brief epilogue: diligence generated knowledge that gave me an incredible advantage that day ... because I managed to keep it concealed until the "right" time.

Diligence and concealed knowledge let me rule that day.

Like I said, this story may have been pretty straightforward.

The next one will not be - but it is a shorter story.

Story 2: A Special Set Of Skills

I have a special set of skills ... acquired over a long career ... that have helped me build and chase my dreams.

They have also made me a target for some special treatment (and mistreatment) from friends, foes, and fans.

Here's the best way to describe the treatment ... once I share or display a skill or talent that I hope reveals both my essence and function to people I respect and want to work with - I am then turned into the lowest possible level of that function.

The essence part is ignored.

This is textbook marginalization, but it has happened in so many different ways with so many different people - even people I respect and love - I had to understand that it was a problem (not an accident or trend).

Let me explain.

I listen well - and take lots of notes during meetings.

This has drawn comments for over 30 years ... and every instance feels like "Groundhog Day".

These comments have led to the reward of being assigned the duty of taking notes for the group.

This has happened more than twice.

I am computer literate, and skilled at repair and troubleshooting.

So I have been assigned the responsibility of resolving the group's frustration with their computer woes - for free - more than twice.

I am good at buying (procurement) and logistics.

So guess who gets to make all the intricate purchases, or arrange the office move ... more than twice?

I am adept at the analysis and synthesis of information.

So I get asked to make the pie charts, and aggregate the survey responses (more than twice).

I am a precise and articulate speaker, writer, and storyteller.

So I get asked to write and videotape the speeches.

Enough examples.

Game recognizes game.

I have been forced to learn how to say "no" to this treatment - sometimes by confronting it directly, and at other times by avoiding it altogether - but to do so with some "couth" and balance.

This is tricky - sometimes sticky - territory.

Balancing "those who tell do not know ... those who know do not tell" with "teach them how to treat you" with "opportunities are often disguised as work" with "the diligent shall rule, and the lazy shall be enslaved" with "the shrewd person conceals knowledge, but foolish people publicize folly (their foolishness)".

In other words, balancing my "holy common sense" and "street smarts" with God's infallible word.

Here's what I have learned ...

My diligence generates my wealth (my knowledge).

For this diligence to help me rule, I have to respond to opportunities - which are often disguised as work - that are controlled by someone else.

I must proceed by offering skills & knowledge carefully ... in context (in a sincere attempt to help solve a problem) ... and in humility and moderation.

Submitting yourself in service is humble ... but also humbling ... but also strategic.

This approach will show (and reveal) character (both your own and the potential partner) ... it also reveals care, concern, respect & synergy (or the lack thereof).

The degree of my rule (via my skills & knowledge) depends directly on how well I conceal and reveal knowledge.

Because everything I know can and will be used against me by all the folks I should not be fooling with in the first place.


About Derrick Brown (Standup Storyteller)

I am Keisha's husband, and Hannah's father.

I am a “standup storyteller.”

I fuse rap, spoken word (poetry), oration (traditional public speaking), singing, and teaching into messages of hope, healing, and change that I write, direct, and produce to help people who help people.

Everything must change - and stay changED.

Tradition begins and ends with change.

Change begins with me and the renewing of my mind ... then continues through efforts to effect small-group discipleship (equipping others to equip others) with audiences that respect and embrace mentoring, mediation, and problem solving as tools of change.

I am the product of my mentoring relationships, peacemaking (and peacekeeping), and problem-solving ability.

My education began when I finished school.

After school, I enrolled in a lifelong curriculum that includes classes in ministry, entrepreneurship, stewardship, literacy, numeracy, language, self-identity, self-expression, and analysis / synthesis.

My projects execute a ministry that has evolved from wisdom earned through lessons learned.

I want to share this wisdom to build teams of "triple threat" fellows - mentors, mediators, and problem solvers.

We will collaborate in simple, powerful ways that allow us to help people who help people.

I now know that power is work done efficiently (with wise and skillful use of resources, interests, communication, and expertise).

Copyright © 2018 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.

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