Knowing I Don’t Know

Work can be frustrating, can’t it? In my job I’m tasked with leading a few important healthcare initiatives, and it’s slow going. Nobody opposes me, but the law of inertia applies and everyone isn’t always on the same page about what we’re trying to accomplish. Consequently, it’s been hard to build momentum. Lots of times I think, “If the leaders just knew about my issues, they’d clear my path and I could get some traction. If only they understood the importance of what I’m doing, all would be well. If only I could get their attention…” Perhaps you’ve had similar thoughts in your job role.

Now I’m actually pretty high up on the org chart, and I like to think that I have a good understanding of the big picture. I’m not at the top to be sure, but high enough that I do have access to the executive leadership as necessary and more. So I’ve been able to test this hypothesis of “if they only knew _______, then they would __________” pretty often. The results have been decidedly negative. Usually it turns out that I don’t have that great an understanding of the big picture, and even when the leaders understand my problem, they’ve got bigger fish to fry.

It’s humbling of course, but it’s made easier by the fact that my superiors are generally kind and loving people, quick to listen and slow to anger. Also, I can take some comfort in the idea that my arrogance is natural for fallen man. I bet my subordinates are thinking the same thing as they struggle with issues that I am not willing or able to solve for reasons about which they’re in the dark. We all have the same human nature.

Beyond the workplace, I am reminded of this passage from Isaiah:

My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT

Well, he’s right about that, and my work experience proves it. If I’m already having problems with my “higher understanding” on a mere human scale across a couple of levels of management, that pretty much makes the LORD’s point. Thought-wise, he’s in another league. When it comes to God, trust, not analysis, is in order. I want to remember that more, lest I be reminded as Job was reminded:

Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind: “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angel shouted for joy? Job 38:1-7 NLT,

And the LORD’s questioning continues for quite a while longer, eventually pausing:

Then Job replied to the LORD, “I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say. Job 40:3-5 NLT

I’m not as arrogant as I used to be, but I should take myself down a few more notches, before God or someone else does it for me. None of us, me included, has all the answers to anything. God has given me a good mind and plenty of good ideas, but people are meant to work together and I’ve just got a few piece of the healthcare puzzle. At work, may I release any frustration, make my contribution, and trust the team.

When it comes to God, it seems pretty clear that I should not even be trying to “figure him out.” Not only don’t I understand his ways, I can never and will never understand them. Fortunately I can understand that he is kind, loving, generous, and faithful. He has been good to me in my arrogance and disobedience. Help me Lord to greater humility and faith. Calm my overactive mind and ego, and help me rest in Christ Jesus. Amen


  1. What truth you have said in this short piece. God’s ways are far above our ways. They are not natural to us. I am encouraged though that we can be transformed in our understanding. That is easier said than done though. Paul deals with this subject quite extensively in Colossians 2 culminating in verse 16, “For W’ho has know the mind of the Lord, that He will instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” Therein lies our challenge. We begin our new spiritual life as babes with our understanding of life wrapped up in our old life. As we continue down this path of growth , we are transformed from babes to mature believers. 1 John 2 deals with this maturing process and what we are like as we grow. We are all shooting for the stability of being a spiritual father as described in verses 12 and 14. The spiritual fathers “know Him who has been from the beginning.” As we mature our understanding matures. Of course we will never stop growing and getting to know Him and His ways better, but herein lies hope. It gets easier as we go along. Thanks for sharing you thoughts.

    • Peter Weiss says:

      Thank you Ray. I appreciate your encouragement. Sanctification is a slow process. I think that understanding that we don’t understand is one of the first steps. As we grow we understand more, not by “figuring God out,” but rather by progressive revelation from the Spirit.