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The Curse of Knowledge (How NOT to Suffer from This)

A Travel Guide for Life, Faith, and Relationships!


So, I got an email. No surprise, I get hundreds of emails every week. However, this one made me panic for a second.


“Pastor Kurt, I’m thinking about visiting your church, but I can’t find the address or service times anywhere on your church website.”




We just redesigned our website. It’s cool. It’s current. It’s dope. It’s amazing! There’s no way we missed putting this basic and critical info on our brand-new killer site.


We didn’t. The address and service times were there, just down the Home page a bit. Apparently, this dear person didn’t know how to scroll on a website. (Panic attack over.)


But then it struck me—often, too often, we suffer from the curse of knowledge.


What is the curse of knowledge?


The curse of knowledge happens when you are so familiar with something (like scrolling down a page on a website) that you forget what it’s like not to know.


We forget we were once unenlightened and clueless, and we operate as if everybody knows what we know. But they don’t.


Let me give you another example.



Remember when you were learning to drive? Everything was new, and you were stressed out trying to do all that needed to be done. It was terrifying.


Most of what you do now while driving is almost automatic. You don’t think, Okay . . . first I let off the gas . . . while simultaneously depressing the clutch pedal . . . while shifting from 1st to 2nd.


Nope. You don’t think about it; you just do it.


Years ago, when I was attempting to teach my son how to drive a stick shift, my frustrationometer went from 0-60 in about four nanoseconds. Why? Because I’d forgotten what it was like not to know how to drive and shift at the same time without grinding the gears to shreds.


The curse of knowledge is real. It happens all the time, and it’s a source of much relational tension between the informed and the not-yet-informed (which is a much nicer way of saying the ignorant).


A woman joins your team at work. She’s been a stay-at-home mom for a while but needed to get a job. Are you kind and patient with her because you remember how long it took you to figure out how to use the super-turbo-tech Z-3000 copier at work? Or will you succumb to the curse and treat her like an idiot?



You need to change a business flight because your boss didn’t bother to tell you until today that the meeting is on Tuesday, not Wednesday. So, you call the airline, and it takes you about two minutes to figure out that you know more about the flight schedule options than the newbie on the phone at Delta. Do you see this as an opportunity to grow in your patience and to encourage someone who’s got a lot to learn? Or will you allow the curse to make you curse?


Someone walks into your church who hasn't been to church for about a thousand years. What’s more, the traditional church they did attend on Easter Sunday of ’98 wasn’t anything like your contemporary church is now. Can you imagine how they feel? Are you aware of or even remembering the courage it takes to walk into a new place, clueless about what to expect or what’s expected of you? (Think about your first day at college.)


Here’s the antidote to the curse: Remember what it’s like not to know. Then do for others what others did for you when you were ignorant, unaware, and totally confused.


Be kind.


Be patient.


Look at things, and especially at people, with the heart of someone who remembers what it’s like not to know what you now know.


Then smile and say, “I know this is tough. I remember my first day. It’s okay. In no time, you’ll be a pro. Hang in there. Everything is fine.”



Always keep in mind, knowledge should be a gift, a gift you graciously give to others, rather than a curse that makes you arrogant and others miserable.


For the record: gifts are good; curses are bad.


So, be a gift!

"Be kind and compassionate to one another." 

Ephesians 4:32

Kurt Bubna

Kurt W. Bubna has published seven books, is an internationally recognized blogger, conference and retreat speaker, as well as an experienced life and leadership coach. Bubna has over forty years of experience working with individuals, teams, and a wide variety of business and non-profit organizations.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Kelly

    I am trying to each my 17 year old to drive a stick…it’s been VERY tough.. & I’m sad to say I’m not a good teacher at all…your blog post is perfect & I think God is trying to tell me to have more patience(?) or maybe .to find a different way to connect with my 17 year old(?) OR to maybe face my fear of my child leaving nest.. no, I do not believe she is ready for college. It could be all these things or something entering different…but I HAVE been doing ALOT more praying whenever I’m in the passenger seat with her.

  2. sharon jarrell

    Yes, I have been that newbie, clueless employee and I’m forever grateful I had a boss that was kind and patient and showed me over and over how to do tasks that were way scary for me. 🙂

  3. Martha Orlando

    Great and wise words, Kurt. We need to be more understanding and patient with people who are “not in the know.”

  4. Mari Isermann

    Oh my goodness. This hit home. We do forget so often that knowledge we have becomes automatic and we need to understand and be patient when someone doesn’t have the knowledge.

    Great words! Be kind and realize not everyone is in the same place you are.

  5. Robert Steiner

    Very appropriate message! I experience this all the time and what is most difficult is to accept the response if and when I elect to educate further or rebut the response, I wonder if that is when the word patience comes into play! thanks for your weekly messages, I always enjoy and sometimes respond. God bless.

  6. Bob Bradberry

    Yep, common knowledge is not so common!

  7. Rebecca Gump

    So good. I’ve had to remind a genius friend of mine of this very subject. On the flip side we/me can get into trouble assuming everyone knows what I know. Clarifying is so important! Good word!

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