The very first time I worked in the Bahamas was several years ago at Atlantis during the construction of The Cove, the associated water park and an expansion of the Convention Center on the property. I was the hydrogeologist on the project, helping with the water supply needs for this significant expansion. It was an extremely valuable experience, one of the highlights of my career.
While working on the job site one of the workers was telling me about the construction of the original Atlantis structure, what we call The Royal Towers… and how they used bamboo scaffolding to put this massive structure together. I was amazed! I just sat there thinking what an incredible feat, and they accomplished it with Chinese engineers who brought with them these giant bamboo sticks that they lashed together with twine… my imagination went wild and I couldn’t wait to tell my friends back home about this.
I guess about a day later I realized that the guy was probably pulling my leg. I ran into him again and made a silly comment about it, and we shared a laugh. It was all good.
I’m stupid sometimes. My tender heart believes whatever people tell me, just as if it were the Gospel. I am very fortunate to have some really good friends that not only watch out for me, but that have also helped me understand how my gullibility is a considerable personal shortcoming as well as a sin. I am thankful for that.
“A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.” Proverbs 14:15
Wikipedia defines Gullibility as: “a failure of social intelligence in which a person is easily tricked or manipulated into an ill-advised course of action.”
While my example above was pretty harmless, gullible people are set up for disaster if someone comes along and (1) recognizes the shortcoming, and (2) takes advantage of the weakness by exploiting the gullible person.
Gullibility is essentially an act of trust, which is considered a positive trait. Trust only becomes an issue when we are foolish about it. We’re all susceptible to gullibility to some degree or another.
Many of the seemingly good ideas that I read about in preparation of this post seem very cynical to me, so I’m aware that because of my desire to keep my optimistic, loving nature and kind heart that I will have to be extra careful to avoid making foolish mistakes.
I came up with a few ideas on avoiding the pitfalls of gullibility:
- Patience is extremely important… need to take time to ask questions, communicate openly, avoid assumptions and let situations play out before diving in head first.
- Ambivalence is a telltale sign that there may be a problem… I know from experience that if I am having simultaneously conflicting feeling about a person or situation that I must slow down and take a closer look.
- I have to learn from my mistakes… I’ve written recently about My Greatest Sin
- My circle of close friends are extremely important… I need to seek the opinion of others who share my values and whom I know from experience that I can trust.
- I must avoid temptations and other pitfalls of failing to follow God’s Word.
- Most importantly, I have to stay connected to the Holy Spirit and follow God’s will or plan for my path. Regardless of my own agenda or desires, if He is sending me a message and I’m not listening there is surely big trouble on the horizon.
What advice could you give to someone who struggles with the issue of gullibility?