DEAR FATHER PAUL: I am a 41 year-old woman. My teachers always told me, “you are so smart,” but I am beginning to wonder. I am a professional with two college degrees and an IQ of 137. Last week a friend asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks. She said, “if you are so smart, why is your life always in such a mess?”
Truth is I have made lots and lots of very bad decisions over the past number of years. I recently divorced my third husband. All three were jerks. I have made tons of bad financial decisions as well and have bankrupted twice. Add to this substance abuse, “wrong” friends and “turning over a ‘new leaf’ every few months which never seems to last, and you get the picture. My dad died when I was seven and I need some “fatherly” advise. Thanks. Jane (not my real name).
Don’t despair. There are untold millions of people on planet earth today who are exactly like you. Pastors meet these people every day in counseling sessions. I know exactly what is wrong and I know exactly the cure. Its simple, but often not easy for “smart” people like you to accept.
Your problem, in a nutshell, is that you are indeed smart, but you are not wise … and the two are not, I repeat, not the same thing.
“Smart” means that you can learn readily and easily, that you have a “quick” mind, that you have innate curiosity and that you can quickly grasp difficult and complex concepts. Your 137 IQ (your Intelligence Quotient) is not “genius,” but it is indeed in the higher range.
But again (and this is important), “smarts” and wisdom are not the same things.
From what you tell me, up until now at least, it sounds like you may have been smart, but you have not been very wise. College degrees do not guarantee wisdom. Look at it this way. Being wise, or possessing wisdom means that you can make good decisions … decisions that turn out well for you and well for others. In other words, a wise person makes “wise” (not foolish) decisions … decisions that have a good, not a bad outcome, both short term and long term. Good decision outcomes are not merely a matter of luck … they require wisdom.
Secular psychologists and counselors will often tell people like you “just be more disciplined,” or “consider the consequences before you make a decision.” This advise sounds reasonable and good. The problem is it just doesn’t go far enough. Why? Because it stops short of bringing you all the way to “wisdom” which is what you truly need and must have before you can get to the place where you actually practice discipline and consider consequences in advance of decisions.
So the all important question becomes, “How do I get wisdom? How do I becomewise?”
The answer is found in the Bible which is God’s instruction manual for the human race. Since God made us, he knows everything we need and he tells us how to get these things (again) in the Bible. Simple.
Job 28:23 & 28 says this (New Living Translation) “God alone understands the way to wisdom; he knows where it can be found. And this is what he says to all humanity: ‘the fear (reverence) of the Lord is true wisdom.’”
King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, concludes his written life story in the 12th chapter of Ecclesiastes with these words (New Living Translation) “That’s the (my) whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: fear (reverence) God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.”
Basically, if you, or anyone else, wants to gain true wisdom in your life, you must establish a close, personal and ongoing relationship with the author of wisdom … God, and you do that by hanging out with his son, the Lord Jesus Christ who is the living personification of wisdom in the flesh. In short, when you truly know Jesus, you will truly know and have wisdom.
My advise to you then Jane is to receive Jesus as your personal savior and become an active part of a good, Bible believing church. I promise that you will gain wisdom and see an immediate, positive result.
Do You Have A Question? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to answer your question in the paper.
Father Paul Massey is Pastor Emeritus of Church of the Holy Cross Charismatic Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. Visit www.holycrosschurch.wordpress.com for more information, directions, service times and recorded Sunday messages.