Wisdom vs Intelligence (Part 3) – The Plan for Our Future

wisdom versus intelligence

Part 1: Wisdom vs Intelligence
Part 2: Why We Make Bad Decisions

What is my primary goal in life? I’ve read about 60 year-old CEOs of major companies that still don’t know what they want to do with their lives. What hope did I have as a boy or college student? What hope do I have now at the age of 31?

If you believe in God, then you probably know at least on an intellectual level, that He is perfect. We might not always agree with the outcome, but the core Christian belief is that we know God always makes right and just decisions.

God also has a perfect plan for each of our lives. Humans are marred by sin though, so there will be some difficult spots on that path. What if we never get on the path? What happens when we beat our own path through the brush only to get more lost with each step?

That is where I see so many people today. It’s all I can do to stay on God’s path. Fortunately God lights the way for us if we acknowledge him and submit to his will for how that path should be walked.

Wisdom of God Reflected from our Youth

I meet kids that have not just grown up around Christians, but are really pursuing the Lord’s will in their lives. I am always struck by how much older those kids seem. Have you ever seen the interviews of the teens when any magazine writes an article about “20 teens who will change the world”?

It’s a bit intimidating, actually. I look at those youths like I look at that 3-year-old kid that zipped past me on the ski slopes using no poles and flying down a potentially treacherous slope without a bit of fear. When I feel bad when I look back at my life and think the dangerous, “What ifs,” I am reminded that we have a baby on the way. The future for that child is limitless should we raise him or her to know and love the Lord.

How Adults May Receive Wisdom

I see people in all areas of business who are a great success, though if you hung out with them, you would never get the idea they had overpowering intelligence. Truth be known, many just have average intelligence. What really sets them apart is that they have superior wisdom – the knowlege of what choices will bring the best outcome.

How do we get this wisdom, or applied knowledge of God’s will? We said that God is perfect, so that would be the place! Everyone looks for a magic forumula, but God is the provider of all wisdom. Seek him.

I’ll relent, though – If you want 5 steps, here goes…

  1. Prayer – Seek God’s wisdom. Not for material wealth or prosperity, but simply for the wisdom to discern God’s will and for the courage to do it. Take quiet time each day where we just get silent and still to hear the Lord
  2. Read God’s Word – Read God’s word carefully and regularly. The prophets had a couple scrolls that we know as part of the Old testament, and a word from God once or twice in their life. In the New Testament church, they had a couple letters that would circulate and the rest was told as oral tradition. That seems to be part of the reason they repeat themselves so much and go through the entire history of Judaism every time a character in the Bible tells a story. (The other part is that knowledge of oral tradition was very important and showed the Jewish people that these “upstart” Christians knew what they were talking about and respected their culture and traditions.)
  3. Memorize the Word – Beyond just reading the word, it helps to memorize a couple key verses. This way when the enemy comes we can combat it with God’s word like Jesus did.
  4. Connect to God and His Body – Get in with other believers. Join a church – not because that makes you good, but rather so you can worship God with others and benefit from the gifts God gives to other believers. By “join”, I don’t mean just show up – dive in! Join a small group/Bible study – Volunteer for something – participate…
  5. Pour out the Word – Do it! Let God put into action what you learn in the Word. If we sincerely commit to God to let him change us, he will, and I’m living proof. I was a grade A jerk a few years ago, and now…. I guess I still have my moments, but life is som much different – so much better. Don’t get discouraged, though. It may take some time since we will occassionally take steps back or to the side.

    Do your job even better than before. Love your spouse/kids/friends more purely than before. Share what you are learning with others. Give back to those who do not know Christ. Even as a new believer there are still things we can do to show Christ’s love even if we can not deliver a stirring oratory.

Passing on Wisdom to our Children

What if we had our kids studying the Bible fully? I talking about much more than reading it – I’m talking about living the Bible!

I wonder what would happen if instead of reminding my child of how smart he or she is, I reminded them that “You are a child of God, made in his image.” or even, “God has a path for you and this is not it”?

I’ll let you know in about 18 years. Until then I pray for each of you that the Lord will fill your heart with wisdom as he did Solomon and will guide you and your children on his perfect path. Thanks for joining me in this mini-series and I pray that each of you be filled with the wisdom of the Lord.

Have a blessed day!

3 Responses to “Wisdom vs Intelligence (Part 3) – The Plan for Our Future”

  1. Matthew,

    I felt compelled to write to you after reading all three sections of your writings and your testamony about your life. I have led a similar life in that I am plagued by the desease of alcoholism, and am a total jerk a lot of the time. I married my wife a year and a half ago and we have a beautiful baby boy together. I vowed to myself that I would change my life when he was born, but I have slipped back into my old ways again. My wife and I recently started attending a great church here on Maui, however we have not dove in like we should. I keep putting off joining small groups or Bible studeis and I find reasons not to volunteer for things. I feel like I’m going through the motions, but would like to do so much more with my life. I want to live for the Lord! I find your writings to be very inspirational, and have some key points down to post on my wall. I want to wake up to them every day as a reminder to me of what life is really all about…. walking with the Lord. I still fear that my alcoholism will hold me back though. Do you have any suggestions for me on how to beat this evil desease? Any life experiences that might help me to defeat this beast in my life? If so, I could really use the encouragement.

    Matthew Mosley

  2. Matt,

    I felt compelled to respond to you after reading these three entries. I’m a recent high school graduate and with college starting next month I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this summer about self, purpose, identity and generally a lot of philosophical subjects. I googled Wisdom versus Intelligence and yours is the first page that popped up. Your insight has helped me immensely in defining Wisdom and Intelligence. All of it ties in with a greater perspective I’ve started to develop on the duality of the world: Wisdom versus Intelligence, Intuition and Faith versus Logic and Reason, Seeing the Bigger Picture versus Following a Sequence, the list goes on. Right now, I must admit that I am as you say you were when you were my age: Intelligent, booksmart, and sharp, but not wise, streetsmart, or with a good sense of purpose. Through my own insight and with the help of insight of yours and others I’m coming closer to a better understanding of the world. It probably wouldn’t surprise you if I said this contrast between wisdom and intelligence is just one aspect of a much deeper contrast between two very different patterns of thought. What might surprise you is that I’ve found the basis for this conflict is wired into our very brains – specifically the left and right sides. The left side of the brain is analytical, verbal, logical, is linear and rooted in time: Intelligence could be thought of as dominating this side. The right side of the brain is insightful, visual, intuitive, timeless and holistic: Wisdom dominates this side. What’s even more surprising is that I learned this in an artbook (If interested you might want to read the first couple of chapters of “Drawing on the right side of the brain”)

    One conclusion I’ve come to realise is that in most cases where there exists polar opposites or stark contrast, balance is perfection – impossible for any human to achieve, but well sought after. So I thank you for reminding that one cannot rely on intelligence alone. Spirituality and Philosophy have much to offer in terms of wisdom, something I neglected. The extremes of religious zealots and religion in politics made me forget that the extreme of life devoid of spirituality has equally disastrous results.

  3. I think it’s the book of psalms that states that Wisdom existed before all else and it is by wisdom that all that exists was created. I strongly suggest that all that read this check out that part of scripture. Just now, I was trying to debate within myself (as I regularly do) as to which is greater- wisdom or intelligence? Well, after remembering that scripture I referred to at the beginning of this post, Wisdom came out on top- WAY on top.
    My own personal view to support this is that I see wisdom as a guide. For example: let’s say you have a job interview tomorrow. Let’s also say you manage to use intelligence ALONE (I know it’s impractical but just work with me here). Your intelligence will lead you to read just about everything you can find that you think will help you in the interview. On the other hand, if Wisdom steps in, you’ll find that you don’t have to read everything. Wisdom will give you insight on what areas questions will come from, how they might possibly be asked, etc. All this will save you a lot of time and energy (among others). That’s what I think sets wisdom apart- it guides your intelligence, however high or low it is. Basically, you’d rather have a lot of wisdom than a lot of intelligence- should you be given that choice.

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