Today, I want to talk to you about the matter of Respect — particularly respect for God.
Aretha Franklin once sang a popular song titled “Respect.” The late comedian Rodney Dangerfield was famous for saying, “I can’t get no respect.” Perhaps you have been told to have self-respect. I am sure there are people you have respect for and people whom you would like to have respect from. However, the only way you will have a proper understanding of respect is if you have a healthy respect for God. That is what we will discuss today and in our next few broadcasts.
The Bible uses the term “fear” to describe respect for God. Ecclesiastes 12:13 says, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” This fear does not mean being afraid of God. Rather, it means having a healthy respect and reverence for God because of His holiness.
Fear of God, or respect for God, is closely tied to obedience. If we have the proper respect for God, we will obey Him in our everyday lives. Proverbs 8:13 says, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” Just as God hates sin, respect for God will lead you to hate sin and the consequences that come from sinning. And that respect will keep you out of a whole lot of trouble along the road of life.
Fear of God, or respect for God, is also tied to the gaining of wisdom and knowledge. People have a tendency to become proud from the knowledge or education that they gain. Even though each of us will only learn about a tiny fraction of all that there is to learn about the universe, we will be tempted to become puffed up with the little knowledge that we have. Having knowledge without a proper respect for God (who knows all things) is foolish. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Realize that no matter how much you study, you will never come close to knowing all that there is to know. However, since God is omniscient (all-knowing), He demands and deserves our respect.
Finally, today, notice that fear of God, or respect for God, is the foundation of self-respect and respect for others. Why? Because you and every other person in the world is made in the image of God. You and every other person in the world carries God-given potential, dreams, and destiny. Never look down on yourself or on anyone else. Never belittle your gifts and talents or the gifts and talents of others.
When you have respect for God, you can have the proper respect for yourself and others.
We will take more on this matter of respect in our next episode.
As I have shared with you in previous letters, it is true that gaining more education and acquiring knowledge is very important and essential to your success as we know it in this life. However, let me quickly say to you that there is something more important than these things, and that is obtaining WISDOM. While you are gaining more knowledge, please also get wisdom.
Notice what King Solomon said in Proverbs 4:7: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”
What is wisdom? The word “wisdom” literally means having skill. Education will tell you how to do something, but wisdom will tell you why you ought to do something. And wisdom will also tell you when you ought to do something. In other words, knowledge or education is the automobile, but wisdom is the fuel. Wisdom is that supernatural edge that most people do not have, and have no idea how to get. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said: Wisdom is more valuable than gold, silver and rubies. In fact, if you don’t have wisdom, you won’t have and certainly won’t keep much gold, silver and rubies.
Probably, besides my letter on “Get to Know Your Creator” (Letter Two), this short letter is the most important to your happiness, success, and advancement in this life.
Now very simply, here is the basic way to obtain true wisdom. But watch out: this is going to be so simple that you might miss it.
ASK GOD FOR IT!
That’s right. If you want true wisdom, you must simply ask God for it. You cannot work for wisdom; you cannot study and get wisdom; you cannot borrow wisdom; you cannot buy wisdom; and you cannot extract wisdom from other human beings. The only way to get true wisdom is by simply praying and asking God for it. It is a free gift of the grace of God, as is your soul’s salvation.
James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
The glorious wisdom that God gives will open your eyes to so many things that you cannot see right now. The wisdom of God will give you the ability to see things that the average person does not see. Having the wisdom of God will also definitely give you an advantage — a great advantage in this life. So I urge you to ask God for wisdom to guide you throughout your life, and, friend, He will do it for you.
In closing this letter, let me also say that if you want to be wise, it is wise to walk or hang with wise men. King Solomon said in Proverbs 13:20, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
Dear Y.B.M., even though it feels good and may look cool, please don’t hang with fools because if you do, you will eventually become a fool yourself. Pick out those guys who are wise and hang with them and be a wise guy yourself.
Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”
A Word To The Wise,
P.T.: Roy L. Smith said, “The world belongs to the man who is wise enough to change his mind in the presence of facts.”
Jean Jacques Rousseau said, “Patience is bitter but its fruit is sweet.”
Albert Einstein said, “Gentlemen, try not to become men of success. Rather, become men of value.”
T. H. said, “Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.”
At this writing, I am on the steps of the Coleman Library on the campus of Florida A & M University in Tallahassee, Florida. I will be speaking in a couple of churches in the area on Sunday.
Frankly, I wish I had someone to write me like this when I was your age.
Now, on this important matter of getting a good college education: you will have some obstacles, to say the least.
The first obstacle that you will face is yourself. Why? Because the process of truly learning is laborious, monotonous, and at times downright bitter and boring. Therefore, obtaining a truly higher education will require of you a determined mind and a will to stick and stay. In short, it will take discipline. But in the end, it will be worth it all.
Your second obstacle to obtaining a higher education is the ever present lure of immediate money and gratification. This is a temptation. For example, you may have a good paying job right now and you don’t want to leave it to go to college or you don’t want to cut back on your hours so that you can go, at least, part-time. I recall, upon my graduation from high school, my parents wanted me to go on to college at Gardner-Webb College in North Carolina. However, I was too short-sighted, and, frankly, too foolish to take their advice because I had this restaurant job in high school that offered me a new job as trainer and assistant manager for new restaurants that were opening up. In my view, the money was good, so I opted for the fast money and the fast lifestyle of partying, women and drinking — immediate gratification. However, thankfully, by the grace of God, I came to my senses and began the higher learning process, and became a college graduate later.
My friend, you will learn in life that you must postpone gratification to reach for something far more important and valuable. One great preacher of the past put it this way:
You cannot offer up the future on the altar of the immediate.
Of course, he is so right. I hope that you will learn this great lesson early instead of later.
A third obstacle that you will face will be your friends. Just as all men do not have faith, all men do not have knowledge, or wisdom or good sense. Just because your friends appear to be cool and powerful does not mean they have wisdom and good sense. If they are not increasing in knowledge, and if they are not exhorting you to do the same, then you are flying with the wrong birds. Get rid of them. Don’t listen to them. Please don’t let them keep you back from something as valuable as this.
The fourth obstacle will be finding the right college. Every college or university is not necessarily the right institution of higher learning for you. There are some colleges and universities that “teach you why.” Then there are colleges and universities that “teach you how.” And then there are colleges and universities that “teach you why and how.” For the sake of common sense, please try to get into the college or university that can teach you the “why and the how.”
A good way to determine whether or not a college is a “why or how” college is by examining the kind of people the college produces.
The students who come from the “why school” and the students who come from the “how school” will normally have the following characteristics:
They have that locked in, locked down mentality (commonly called the slave mentality.) This mentality is bent on working for somebody for thirty years, retiring, and then dying with nothing. In my opinion, these people do not carry the edge of what I call inside knowledge.
The students from the “why and how” college or university on the other hand, will normally have the following characteristics:
Independent thinkers, innovative, entrepreneurs; they may work for somebody for a little while, but their aim is to be in charge of their own business or what have you. These kind of folks will normally rise to the top more quickly than the rest of the pack. They will have their eyes on being free and doing their own thing. They have the inside scoop — the inside knowledge.
Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”
Your fifth obstacle, of course, will be the money. Please do not let the money problem strike fear into your heart because even in these days there are ways in which one can get an education, if he really wants to. Here are a few ways:
2. Work part-time. Many have done it successfully.
3. Well-off family members.
4. External study colleges.
5. Junior or Community Colleges.
6. Scholarships for good grades
7. Financial Aid – Student Loans
And there are other options as well.
All I want to say to you in closing is this: I don’t care what it takes, or how much it costs, please get yourself a good education. You will never regret it.
For a Smarter Young Black Man,
Dr. Addie Mitchell said, “If you plan for a year, sow a seed;
If you plan for a decade, plant a tree
If you plan for a century, educate the people.”
Earl G. Graves said, “Education is the primary tool of emancipation and liberation for African-Americans in our fight for true equality in this country.”
Someone said, “Education is your passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”
Governor Douglas Wilder said, “In the absence of education, all else fails.”
I am writing this letter from the beautiful F.W. Bluford Library on the historically black North Carolina A & T University in Greensboro, North Carolina. I am in town for a special meeting that I am to speak at in a local church. But my being here in this particular library is quite fitting since in this letter I wish to encourage you to get a good education. This matter of getting a good education, or rather, increasing your knowledge, is extremely important — so important that even God addresses it in His Word: the Bible. Notice these words from the book of Proverbs 1:5:
“A wise man will hear and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.”
The value of getting a good education or “increasing your knowledge” is all around us. Notice just seven of the many advantages of “increasing your knowledge.”
First, through increasing your knowledge, you will receive personal enrichment and fulfillment.
Second, increasing your knowledge will give you a greater capacity to help others.
Third, getting a good education will, generally speaking, allow you throughout your life to do better financially and materially.
Fourth, increasing your knowledge will help you to deal with the vicissitudes of life better.
Fifth, increasing your knowledge will help you to interact with your family and other people better.
Sixth, getting a good education will allow you to better express yourself through speech and writing.
Seventh, increasing your knowledge can help you to become a more humble individual because you will find, as you increase in knowledge, how ignorant you really are. Now, you may not think humility is a good quality to possess, but the fact of the matter is that you can’t go up until you come down.
Proverbs 15:33 says, “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.”
Matthew 18:4 says, “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
I Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”
The aforementioned advantages of getting a good education are just a few of the many advantages. There are many more. You will find them out as you increase your knowledge.
As I wrap this letter up, may I kindly but firmly say to you “CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD EDUCATION AND KNOWLEDGE?” High school and college are not times to play! School time is not a time for partying! School is not a time for foolishness! School is serious business! Very serious business! Somebody somewhere is paying good money for you to obtain this knowledge. It is either your parents, some other member of your family, Mr. Tax-payer or yourself. This is not the time to be Mr. Cool! Change your attitude towards education, increase your knowledge and become a more powerful individual.
Do your best in High School, and get a good college education of some sort “by any means necessary.”
For the Increasing of Knowledge,
P.T.: Nelson Mandela said, “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “When we go into action and confront our adversaries, we must be as armed with as much knowledge as they.”
Romare Bearden said, “Real knowledge, properly used, will help anyone.”
Daniel J. Boorstin said, “Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”
Daniel Whyte III said, “The classroom is a sanctuary.”