In this season of graduations it is important to give due congratulations for the perseverance and dedication it takes to just complete a goal, not to mention exceed and excel at it. Education has always held a high value for me and the gaining of knowledge has always motivated me. I used to spend my summers memorizing the names of the presidents in order, or all the states and their capitols or all 230 some countries of the world. And yes, I read the encyclopedia for fun. I took a lot of pride in being smart. In fact, I built my self-worth on it. But as important as gaining knowledge is, I have learned a few things about being 'smart' that I have tried to pass on to my own kids.
1. There are many ways to define 'smart' and they are all valuable. You can be quick to learn, you can retain knowledge for a long time. You may be able to see how something works just by looking at it. You may have an ear for music and be quick to memorize a tune. You may have an incredible 'body memory' that can retain hundreds of complex dance moves that make up multiple routines. You may be able to translate what you see visually onto a page or mold clay or carve wood. You may be able to instinctively know where a ball will be in mid-air and meet it with your glove, hands, racket, etc. Getting good grades in school is certainly not the only indication of 'smartness' and more kids need to know that.
2. 'Smartness' is great, but like any raw talent, it will only take you so far. Talent alone is no indicator of future success. Life is a challenge and so other qualities like perseverance, organization, teamwork, compassion and humility are indispensable to success. In fact, being 'smart' can be a real impediment to success if it keeps someone from learning how to study and practice, how to work with others or how to understand and be understood by others and most especially how to deal with and overcome failure.
3. And this is the most important: gaining the world's knowledge is not nearly as important as gaining God's wisdom. We have to send our kids to school. And we all hope our kids will do well and go to college and/or get a good job and have happy lives and grandchildren. But I can honestly say that if my children won the Nobel Prize in Physics or Literature and did not know God and understand Jesus' sacrifice for them, I would feel that I had failed them. My kids still have trouble believing this sometimes, but over the years they have come to see this is my authentic viewpoint. And while the world's knowledge can still leave you empty and jobless, God's wisdom will enrich every day and moment of your life. All things are possible God, and God works all things for good to those who love Him. So knowing God and following His word is the only way to 'graduate life'.
I wish for my kids, and for all graduates a future bright with success, but the success I wish for them is to be rich in mercy, overflowing in compassion, strong in faith, competent in their knowledge of God's Word and successful in sharing Christ with the people in their lives through their words and deeds. That is success with an eternal reward!
For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? ~Matthew 16:26