Great Men Are Not Always Wise

By Bill Dodd

The young man Elihu rightly asserts that great men (men of renown) and aged men are not always wise (Job 32:9). That charge was so in that ancient time, and that charge is still true today.

Some Applications

First, great men of the world, for the most part, are not wise when it comes to reckoning with spiritual things. Paul describes the great man: “For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many mighty, not many noble are called” (1 Cor. 1:26). Paul’s charge to the Corinthians is that they will not stake their immortal souls based upon “who’s who” in the church. Brethren sorely need to learn this lesson when the dark clouds of division loom and threaten to wreak havoc among God’s people. “Great” men often take the side of error. Speaking of being misled by great men, this writer received some invaluable counsel from brother C.C. Nichols back in 1966. Brother Nichols was the only preacher that took a stand for truth on -the institutional question in our home county of Fayette, Alabama. He told me that he would get this kind of reaction from sermons preached on the local radio station, “Carey, do you actually think that your brother Gus could be wrong?” His stated reply was, “Certainly he can.” He also said, “It is not the cornfield preachers who lead God’s people astray.” He considered himself a cornfield preacher and his brother Gus a “big-timer.” Truly, “Great men are not always wise.”

Secondly, great men are not always wise when it comes to adjudicating the affairs of divided congregations. Suppose, for instance, a congregation is beset with a veritable Diotrephes. There is no way that an outsider can in a short time plumb the depth of this odious problem. Preachers holding meetings need to give heed lest they lend support to an ungodly situation. Preachers and all outsiders need to encourage truth and right attitude and practice what they preach about congregational autonomy (Phil. 1:1; 1 Pet. 5:2).

Thirdly, preachers need to steer clear of giving the notion of “expertise” in all affairs of life. Preachers should stick out a “shingle” that advertises to uphold all things “that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). On a lighter note, let me tell you something about the beloved and venerable Homer Hailey during my student days. My room-mate asked me to help him look for a used car. He found a 1955 Pontiac. Sammy said, “Let’s take it to brother Hailey to see what he thinks about the matter.” I don’t recall brother Hailey claiming to know a great deal about mechanical things, but he did tell Sammy that he guessed thecar would be alright. The car turned out to be a twenty-fpur carat lemon. It has occurred to me that brother Hailey knew the prophets, but he did not know a thing about Pontiacs.


Let all greatness be measured based upon compliance with the message of the “great I am” (Exod. 3:14).

Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 9, p. 263, 265
May 4, 1989