7 Ways It's Not "Who You Know" but it's "What You Know" | Bible vs. Business World

As a man of the faith (I'm not shy at all in announcing that), at times I like to review some of the contrast in the common professional philosophies and biblical teachings. In this case, there is a seemingly strict divergence between the biblical and worldly philosophy on the growing of professional gifts and the results that they provide in the arena of opportunity. Biblically, it would seem that a gift (assuming that it has been manifested and matured) is the catalyst by which those in power will begin to recognize a man, representing an increase in opportunity professionally. However, worldly has dictated and emphasized that it is first more important to know more of those in power that it is to be great in your respective craft. It suggests that being very good in your craft will not ultimately result in a manifestation of great opportunity.

For the biblical viewpoint, we consider the scripture in Proverbs 18:16, referencing both the King James Version (KJV) and The Message (MSG) interpretations. The KJV states that “A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.” (Proverbs 18:16, King James Version) and more pointedly, the MSG version says, “A gift gets attention; it buys the attention of eminent people.” (Proverbs 18:16, The Message) Conversely, modern world’s viewpoint can be reference as early as 1914, where The Electrical Worker publication stated that, “Many devious forces apparently also control the conditions of advancement and preference, and a phrase that is often heard is to the effect that it’s not what you know that counts so much, as who you know!” The shorted version of this reference is simply, “It’s not what you know, but who you.” 

As a biblical scholar, one could argue that the modern world viewpoint is correct in its own way as since it is first important to know the God, through whom the position of gifts over relationship of men is was instituted, they that would indeed be make it more about the who (person/entity) over the what (gift knowledge). However, this does not represent the general understanding of this popular modern world saying. It clearly suggests that you do not have to have an actually fully matured gift before getting the attention of those in power with opportunity. This understanding is what makes it a completely divergent statement on the importance and ability of a gift to garner desired attention of those who provide opportunity.     

The concluding observation, after much time, observation and focused thought, is that both assessments are true, however, it is time itself that produces a differing fruit from both doctrines. In the short term, the modern world view on this matter has shown itself to be true on relatively consistent basis. Many can relate to the individual who has received opportunity and promotion because of interpersonal relationships alone while not possessing the skill-sets (gift) to perform after the fact. This happens all of the time. However, in consideration of professional longevity, the foundation of a matured gift will ultimately yield the attention desired. It is interpreted here that relationships, interpersonal and professional, are a by-product of the manifested and matured gift, but is built over time. This time allotment is usually always longer in duration in yielding the desired fruit of a presented opportunity, and in today’s popular desire for instant gratification, the modern world’s doctrine is chosen more often than not. 

The Seven Differences:

[Note: these contrasts are made philosophically exclusively of each other]

1. “Who You Know” will get you a job faster/more often | “The Matured Gift” takes longer to get a job, but compensation and reputation grows higher over time

2. “Who You Know” promotes you up the chain quickly | “The Matured Gift” promotes the related industry as a whole over time, and you with it

3. “Who You Know” requires much consistent self-promotion | “The Matured Gift” promotes itself by the results it produces

4. “Who You Know” calls for your own finding of people in power | “The Matured Gift” attracts the right people in power itself

5. “Who You Know” calls for you to define how you differentiate from others | “The Matured Gift” is a pre-defined living differentiation (makes room for you)

6. “Who You Know” calls for you to acquire the capital for an opportunity | “The Matured Gift” is a ready-made investment (buys the attention)

7. “Who You Know” calls for you to maintain all of the relationships | “The Matured Gift” attracts all needed relationships to itself

Personally, I agree with the biblical doctrine in this matter. Other psychological scholars such as Dr. Fredric Neuman makes a similar assessment in saying that, “I like to think that competence is the most important determinant of professional success; but if it is, it is only over the long run.” (Neuman, 2014) I would encourage all to do the same. Additional encouragement can be found in the follow biblical verses in Ecclesiastes, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10, King James Version) and in Colossians, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24, King James Version)

Note: Cited reference details available upon request.


The author of this article is Rogers Vigne, CEO of My Digital Self, LLC. To learn more about his company, you can visit his website at www.mdself.com. To contact Rogers, you can email him at [email protected] or setup a time to chat at https://calendly.com/rogersvigne/15min. Rogers enjoys to meet and greet great people. 


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