Monday, January 12, 2015

To Be Brilliant or Kind?

A pastor from my church asked this question on Facebook: "if you had to choose one would you be brilliant or kind?"

This strikes at my professor's heart and gives me yet another reason to examine my imperfections. Several thoughts leapt to mind, after the initial response that I would not choose between them but prefer to be both.

What came quickly to mind is Proverbs 9:10: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Wisdom and "brilliance" are not the same thing. Brilliance gets at exceptional intelligence, whereas wisdom implies good judgment. I have known brilliant people to do unwise things, and am acquainted with people of little formal education who have impressive wisdom.

To "fear" God also means to respect, honor, worship and obey Him. And if we do that, we can't miss a major message and command of Christ: to love one another. Love is a multi-faceted concept, but certainly it involves kindness.

We learn in Ephesians 4:32: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

I would point out that in my own life, I have known two types of brilliant people. The ones who were brilliant and unkind produced in me a grudging respect, but all I knew is that they knew a lot. Those who were both brilliant and kind develop a relationship, a means by which they could share their brilliance and give it some value. Their kindness made it possible for their brilliance to have meaning, to percolate into understanding, to marinate into motivation and inspiration.

So, if I HAD to choose, I would go with kindness. Call it emotional intelligence over merely a high IQ. Or call it the wise biblical choice. But I'm going to try to be brilliant AND kind. I'll start by fearing God, as the beginning of wisdom. If I'm honest, I think it ends there too.

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