Story of the Day for Tuesday November 22, 2011
Settled Into a Higher Purpose
And the king said, “Get me a sword . . . and cut the living child in two. Give half to each one of them.”
1 Kings 3:24-25
Two mothers bring their case before King Solomon. One woman claims her child was stolen in the night – that the other woman’s son died, so she stole hers. The other woman says it’s a lie. Both women claim to be the mother of the child, and now Solomon must decide who the true mother really is.
Have you ever wished you had greater wisdom? I’m not talking about the ability to dominate at Trivial Pursuit™. Wisdom is not about knowledge, but the ability to see. It’s not about the quantity of our intelligence but the quality of our decisions.
We left King Solomon a moment ago with a dilemma: two women claiming to be the mother of a child. To which woman should he award the child?
While we give Solomon a moment to think, let’s grow in wisdom by playing a game. If you can solve Solomon’s dilemma in one hour, I’ll give you five bucks. If you can figure out how Solomon can know the real mother within ten minutes, I’ll give you all of my daughter’s pets. And, if you solve this case within one minute, I’ll stage a coup d’etat and install you as the dictator of a Third World country. (If, however, you’ve already been taught this story in Sunday school, you’re disqualified from the competition, and, if you wish to become a despot, I must leave you to your own devices.)
Since I’m dangling some pretty handsome rewards in front of you, you might as well set your watch and start thinking before you read further. Just remember: your reward is based on how quickly you solve the riddle.
Researchers from MIT, the University of Chicago, and Carnegie Mellon did a study in which they gave rewards for the speed with which participants could perform various tasks. If the tasks involved simple mechanical skill, rewards increased the speed with which the tasks were completed. But – and here is the surprise – when the task involved creative thinking, the higher the reward offered, the longer it took the participants to find the correct solution.
Wisdom is like that: you can’t increase it by trying harder. It doesn’t come through the desire for reward. Wisdom thrives when we’re relaxed and settled into a higher purpose than personal benefit – like when we’re living for the glory of God.
Solomon, as you may know, solved his dilemma by requesting a sword and offering to slice the child in two – giving half to each woman. The woman who protested and pleaded that the child be given to the other claimant was deemed the true mother.
If you figured out the solution to Solomon’s problem, I hope you won my daughter’s pets. Inciting an insurrection in a Third World country is dicey . . . and offering to do so wasn’t very wise of me.
(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)