The Wisdom Pyramid
Have you ever heard of the ‘Healthy Eating Pyramid’? I have vague memories of learning about it in primary school. Basically, it presents the five main food groups and how much we should be consuming from each of them. The bottom layer and foundation of a healthy diet is vegetables and fruit, followed by grains, then dairy, meat, eggs, and nuts, topped off by healthy fats. We need food from all groups, of course, but especially from the bottom layers. They are the most important and should be consumed more often.
This is true not only for what we put in our mouths but also in our minds. In other words, we not only need a healthy, balanced diet of food, but also of information. It’s this conviction that led Brett McCracken to write his latest book, The Wisdom Pyramid: Feeding Your Soul in a Post-Truth World. He argues, “We need for our spiritual health what the food pyramid was for our physical health—guidance on what to eat and not eat, and in what proportions.”
McCracken divides The Wisdom Pyramid into six categories, beginning with the bottom and most important layer, the Bible, followed by church, then nature, then books, then beauty, and finally the internet and social media. I haven’t read the book yet (it’s on my list), but I believe there is great wisdom in careful discernment and intentional decision-making when it comes to our intake of information. What are you allowing to shape the way you live and form the way you think? Is it Scripture or social media? Good books or gossip magazines?
To help us walk the path of wisdom, McCracken recently posed a ‘wisdom diet challenge’. He suggested a number of activities for each category of wisdom to pursue over a period of forty days. I’ve included a sample of his suggestions below. If you want the whole list, you can check them out here. Can I encourage you to see if there is a suggestion or two from each list that you could put into practice? Let’s all be intentional about what we feed our souls.
- Read through the whole book of Proverbs, one chapter a day. Spend five minutes in prayer after your daily reading, asking God to grant you wisdom.
- Pick one passage or entire chapter(s) from Scripture to memorize. Practice daily to help commit it to memory (perhaps following this method). Some passages to consider memorizing are Psalm 1, Psalm 23, Psalm 46, Isaiah 53, Colossians 1:15-20, Ephesians 1:3-14, Philippians 2:1-11, Revelation 21:1-8, Romans 8, Romans 12, Matthew 5.
- If you have kids, read a Bible story to them (or tell it from memory) at least once a day.
- Attend your church’s worship gathering every Sunday.
- Text someone in your church every week and ask how you can pray for them. Then pray for them.
- Read a short biography about a missionary, theologian, or key figure in church history. Or read one of the books in Crossway’s “Theologians on the Christian Life” series.
- Go on a daily walk outside, even for just 15 minutes (if that’s all you can spare), and go totally unplugged. Leave your phone, headphones, and other electronics at home.
- Visit a park or nature preserve with family or friends, and give everyone 30 minutes to take one photo each, of the most beautiful and interesting piece of God’s creation they can capture with their camera. Only one photo! Then share your photos with each other and have each person explain why they took their photo of what they did.
- Watch the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy (ideally the extended versions!), or one of my selections from this list on TGC’s website: 15 Best Films About Faith From the 2010s. Watch with family or a couple friends.
- Make something beautiful. A song, a poem, a painting, a wood-carving, a hand-sewn COVID mask, a delicious meal, anything.
- Listen to the entirety of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. You can find it on YouTube, Spotify, and most other streaming sites. If that’s too daunting, listen to one of these 6 Works of Classical Music Every Christian Should Know.
INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA
- Use social media only in positive (non-angry, non-complaining) ways for the 40-day period. Praise someone else’s work. Promote good things (music, films, books) you love. Share insightful quotes or Bible verses. Post cute baby photos.
- Take at least one day per week to be completely free of all social media.
- Limit your outside-of-work screen time to one hour or less each day.