I’m currently studying the book of Proverbs in my daily devotional, and the word prudence keeps coming up. It’s one of those virtue words that always makes me think of Pilgrims, but I had to admit that I didn’t know the literal definition. So, I Googled the root word.
- Acting with or showing care and thought for the future (Google search dictionary)
- Marked by wisdom (Merriam-Webster)
- Wise, sensible in action and thought (Thesaurus.com)
My favorite definition actually came straight outta Proverbs, though—Proverbs 13:16: “All who are prudent act with knowledge…” Succinct and to the point.
Okay. So where am I going with this, right? How does this relate to adventure?
Well, for some odd reason, my brain jumped from prudence to fearlessness—and I was instantly intrigued. Can prudence and fearlessness coexist?
While the obvious definition of fearless is a lack of fear, a truly fearless person is one who defies fear or acts regardless of fear.
But, can one possess both fearlessness and prudence? For example, is it possible for me to go skydiving and bungee jumping and solo tripping all over Europe and still be a prudent person?
YES. I believe it is.
Here’s why: Being fearless doesn’t mean being hasty or reckless. I don’t wake up one day and suddenly decide to go jump out of a plane an hour later or hop on the next flight to Paris. Nope.
When I choose to pursue anything that takes me out of my comfort zone, I gather information, consider examples from others who’ve already done it, and create a plan that works for me. Essentially, I choose to “act [fearless] with knowledge”—the knowledge that what I’ve decided to do has been done before and can be done safely.
Does that mean there’s zero risk and no fear involved? NO. But, if we limit ourselves to only 100% safe, non-scary stuff, then really, what CAN we do?
Absolutely no one would be driving cars or running businesses or public speaking or doing any number of everyday things that often elicit fear and put us at risk (physically or emotionally).
So, let’s recap. Prudence is acting with knowledge. And, fearlessness is acting with no regard to fear. The way I see it then, knowledge is a weapon against fear. It’s mind over matter. It allows me to act when fear tries to distort reality and tell me that the risk is greater than the reward. Of course, sometimes the risk is greater than the reward—and knowledge is a major safeguard for that, too.
But, too often, people make decisions based on fear instead of knowledge, and that’s not prudent. AND I don’t want to be one of those people.
Instead, I’m gonna take this one step further and say that prudence IS fearlessness—or, calculated courage. While the most notably courageous acts are often in-the-moment, it takes wisdom to consistently overcome fear and live each day with courage.
Some of the adventures I take do involve risk, and I can’t say I’ve never been afraid. But I don’t step forward blindly. Instead, I leap with prudent eyes wide open in blazing defiance of fear.
Proverbs 14:15 “…the prudent give thought to their steps.” And leaps.