by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)

(Chapter 45 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Blue Denim and Lace)

"Wisdom is the principal thing: therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding." (Proverbs 4:7)

"To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion." (Proverbs 1:4)

"My son, attend unto my wisdom , and bow thine ear to my understanding." (Proverbs 5:1)

"How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!" (Proverbs 16:16)

"He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good." (Proverbs 19:8)

Education is the acquiring of knowledge and the wisdom with which to use it properly. Few things have been as perverted in our generation as the concept of what education really is.

1. Formal education is just one form of education. To be sure, it is a very vital one, but it is not the only one. There are those among us, sad to say, who feel that the only way to acquire an education is through formal training. Some have even made a god of formal education and have fallen into the pit of judging every person by how many schools and what schools he has attended. Someone has said, "There is no fool like an educated fool." Perhaps an educated fool is one of those persons who feels that one's social standing should be determined by the number of hours he has spent in formal training. The truth is that some of the most educated people that I have ever met had very little formal training. This is not to discount the importance of formal training; it is simply to attempt to keep others from discounting the importance of the acquiring of knowledge and wisdom from every source and not just one. How tragic it is to find someone so self-centered and so perverted that he feels the only way to acquire knowledge is in the use of the particular methods he used. Someone has said, "The only difference between college graduates and those who have never been to college is that they are uneducated in different subjects."

2. Education is more than knowledge. How tragic it is when one comes to a time in life when n he feels that becoming an educated person is simply to become a dictionary with a fleshly binding. A truly educated person has more than an accumulation of facts. He has the wisdom with which to use those facts. When this wisdom is obtained one also becomes tolerant to those with fewer facts. Someone has said, "The most dangerous thing in the word is a man with a brain that is well educated but who does not have enough character to know how to use it.

3. All people are educated to a degree. Of course, some are educated more than others, and the truth is that most of the most educated people whom I have ever known were very limited in formal training. For example, some of the most successful preachers in history have been men with little formal training. In some cases, the pastors of the world's largest churches are men whom some would consider unqualified to pastor and whom smaller churches would not even consider. This is not to minimize the importance of formal training, for certainly, the usual case should allow for such training. We are simply pleading for the case of allowing some possibility that a person without the formal training could be very educated. The average pulpit committee would not consider a man with the formal training of a Dwight Moody or Billy Sunday. How sad!

4. Successful people without the formal training are the exception rather than the rule. It is usually best for young people to pursue the normal preparation required for a certain field. I recommend to my young men who are called to preach that they go to college, and if possible, seminary.

A young man once went to a seminary professor on his first day in school and said, "I want to preach."

The seminary president asked, "Do you have any sermons?"

"No," replied the young preacher, "but God will put the words in my heart."

The president then very wisely said, "All right, go down to a certain street and a certain place and I will have an appointment for you to preach there on the street corner Saturday afternoon."

The young man looked at the seminary president with a puzzled expression and said, "Why sir, that is in the Mexican area of town. Those people speak Spanish."

"Well," replied the president, "Since God is going to put the words in your heart, He may as well put Spanish as English."

Someone once said to a famous preacher, "God doesn't need your education."

The preacher wisely replied, "God doesn't need your ignorance either."

Hence, it is the usual and safest course for young people to pursue the formal education generally required for success in their chosen fields. There must be, however, room allowed for the success of those who have climbed the ladder without this particular form of training.

5. Taste is not a sign of education. One of the most disgusting things in the world to sane people is to find someone who thinks he is more educated than another because he likes a certain kind of music, a certain kind of art, etc. These things are relative. There is no such thing as better music or better art. It so happens that I like what is commonly called better music and better art, but who is to say which is better of the things that are purely relative. In our day a fellow can throw a tomato on a canvas, squirt some mustard all over it, pour on a little black pepper, stir it beyond recognition and call it modern art. One can get an old rim of a tire, beat it with a hammer, cover it with canvas and unveil it as sculpture. Many people develop superiority complexes and even an excess of pride because they have the idea that education is in developing the certain tastes and appreciations that they have been brainwashed to believe are the criterion of being an educated person. Folly!

The question then comes, "How can we become educated persons?" One way is to know the Bible. The Bible is the basis of truth. Nothing is true which is contrary to the Word of God. Not only will the knowing of the Bible make a person more educated, but the reading of the Bible will improve his English, literature appreciation, and refinement.

Another way to become an educated person is to watch and observe great people. Some great people are teaching in schools. Many are not. Regardless of where greatness is found, one should avail himself of the opportunity of observing it.

someone told me this when I was a kid preacher. I subsequently invited every great man I could to preach in my churches. What a tremendous contribution this has made to my life. What a privilege it has been for me to observe greatness and watch great people. I trust that some of it has "rubbed off."

Another way to obtain an education is by reading. Many have said that formal education is simply teaching a person how to read. To say the least, one's education can be extended by constant use of books and good literature. It is wise for one not only to become well educated in his field, but somewhat educated in almost every field. For the person who has little or no opportunity for formal training, reading affords him all of the opportunities necessary for success.

Then there is the necessary thing of studying hard in school. The wise youth will make the most of his days in school. He will study hard and prepare himself for life. One of the main reasons for this is that life's habits are formed so early. One's character is molded at such at early age. One who works hard in school will probably work hard after graduation. One who just barely gets by in school will barely get by after he graduates. During school days habits are made and character is molded that will determine the success or failure of a life. Hence, every person in school should do his best and accumulate every possible bit of knowledge so that he might be used to his fullest in life.

One of the finest ways to become educated is through travel. As often as possible a person should avail himself of travel opportunities. When such opportunities arise, care should be taken in the planning of activities so as to make the trip educational as well as a pleasure.

One of the most important things in the securing of an education is the wise choice of the proper college. A college should be chosen that builds character as well as minds. It should be remembered that the type of training to be received is far more important than the prestige that comes with the diploma. Nothing is as highly exaggerated as the accreditation, etc. It is too bad that many parents are more concerned about their children getting talent than character. When a person develops character, he will develop the talent necessary to succeed in his chosen field. Oftentimes a talented person thinks he can make it without hard work, and consequently, runs from character. Character without talent will acquire the talent necessary. Talent without character is usually lazy and flabby. A college should be chosen on the basis of what it will do for the young person, not what opportunities it will give him after he graduates. The right kind off character will make the opportunities and seize upon them. Education is not the acquiring of a chance, or the acquiring of an opportunity; it is the acquiring of character and knowledge. These should be the things considered in choosing a college.

In these days when communism and almost every kind of "ism" in the world can be found on college campuses, it is also vitally important that great consideration be given to Christian colleges and universities, and much counsel and advice should be received from successful spiritual people concerning the choice of a college. Thousands and thousands of godly parents have worked, saved, and even sacrificed in order that their child might get what "they were not privileged to get"--an education. Through blood, sweat, and tears they provided an education for their child, only to have his faith shaken in the Word of God and the principles he had learned at the feet of his mother and father. This is nothing more than robbery and deceit on the part of colleges and universities. Especially is this true when an institution carries the name of Christian and yet breaks down the Christian faith. In the opinion of this author it is better for a young person to go to an out-and-out secular college, where he will have his guard up and not be deceived, than to be led to believe that the school is Christian, but where he walks away with a diploma that he did not have and without faith in the Word of God which he did have.

It is a good idea for parents to find the names of colleges that not only are places of culture, refinement, and education but places where the Word of God is honored, believed and taught. Parents should start early in the life of a child by helping create in his mind a desire to go to that college or university.

Some of the most highly educated people that I have ever known have many degrees. On the other hand, some of the most highly educated people that I have ever known have no degrees. May God give us His leadership and wisdom with which to utilize every opportunity of life in receiving an education. Then may He give us enough sense to realize that one may achieve success and become educated without following the particular route that we followed.


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