An eleven year old is graduating from college with a two-year degree in astrophysics. It’s a fantastic accomplishment for an obviously intelligent child. In an interview, he was apparently asked if he considered himself a genius, and he was praised for his modest (i.e., humble) answer:
“I don’t consider myself a genius because there are 6.5 billion people in this world and each one is smart in his or her own way,” Cavalin told Wood TV.
Cavalin has a general idea what his IQ is, but doesn’t like to discuss it. He says other students can achieve his success if they study hard and stay focused on their work.
Now, it’s hard to say what this young man has been told about his intelligence. He’s got a room full of martial arts trophies, so he’s not being denied the results of being more intelligent and skilled than others. He knows he’s smart, but he politely turns his attention to all the other children who can achieve exactly as he has if they choose to work hard, too.
I commend this boy and his parents for desiring to be publicly humble about intelligence, and I think it’s wise to downplay the term “genius.” However, an objective evaluation reveal that the boy’s answer is inaccurate. Other children cannot achieve exactly the same as he if they simply work hard. Everyone being smart in his or her own way glosses over the reality that some children do in fact have more raw intelligence than others.
So, what would I encourage my own children to say, should they be graduating from college at age 11? Hereare a few ways I would reword what was quoted above:
What’s important is not how much intelligence I have, but what I am doing with the intelligence I have been given by God. That’s why I’m going to college. I didn’t do anything to have more intelligence than some other people, so it’s not something I can brag about or be proud about. Other people are smart in different ways, and there are people who are more intelligent than I am. Most people can succeed academically if they simply work hard.
The vital emphasis is faithfulness to what we have been given. This principle applies to my children whether their IQ is 50 or 150. Rather than just for the superintelligent, it is a message we and all of our children need. We misunderstand humility if we think it means we believe we are stupid and ugly, even if we’re not. Rather, when we understand accurately who God is, and then who we are, we are in the best framework for learning humility. Paul lists his mental assets and experiences truthfully. He recognizes that strengths are of no value for personal gain. They are irrelevant in the context of knowing Christ.
If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:4-14
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament II Cor 3:5-6a
And that, wise reader, is my responsibility today: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. Think motherhood isn’t about straining forward to what lies ahead? Press on!