“The Power of “I Don’t Know”

“It is what we learn after we know it all that really counts”

John Wooden


I attended a meeting with a high ranking leader in my church when he opened the floor for questions. Somebody raised their hand and asked a tough doctrinal question and the rest of us waited for his response. He said with confidence “I don’t know” and went on to the next question.

Some thirty plus years later I am still impressed with his answer. Wouldn’t it be a breath of fresh air if our politicians decided to employ with confidence the important truth of “I don’t know”?  Instead, we are taken on a journey of distortions and half-truths that leave us just as confused if not more than before the question was asked. That is because it is generally taken as a sign of weakness when you do not know how to answer a question.

Don’t get me wrong…there is a place where knowing the right answer should be expected. When we go through school or drivers education or balancing our check book, we need to know the right answers. But life is full of many situations where lines are fuzzy and instead of black  and white we see grey. Often there are no answers that seem to be good or easy.

Spoken from an honest heart, “I don’t know” is powerful. It portrays a sense of humility and humanity. It places the person in a position where their mind is open to learning. It allows a person to accept that not all things are understandable. It allows a person to cherish the ability to ponder and think deep and know that some answers are slow to arrive and may never be as clear as one plus one equals two.

The next time you are asked a life question that seems to be too difficult to answer do not be afraid to say “I don’t know”. Be confident in your response and then add “maybe we should ponder it together”. If the people in leadership positions in our world would just do that more often, we would be amazed at the progress and goodwill that we would enjoy.

It works at the grass-roots level too. It works in your families and in your relationships. Whether discussing deep doctrines or why you did not take out the garbage, “I don’t know”, is not a sign of weakness. Okay… in answering why you did not take out the garbage it might not work as well as there is no good answer to that question. However,  the deeper the question the more acceptable it is as an answer.

HighFive Your Life Principle: When dealing with life’s difficult questions do not be afraid to say  “I don’t know”.

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One thought on ““The Power of “I Don’t Know””

  1. Man! I would vote for that person in a flash!!! 🙂 🙂 It is so hard to admit you do not have all the answers and I cannot imagine why, we all won’t have all the answers for a very long time!!! 🙂 With this message in my back pocket, it will certainly be a lot easier for me to admit my lack of knowledge and give us all something to ponder.
    Love ya and hope you are doing ok.

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