Wisdom Beats Intelligence

“I would much rather my children be wise than be intelligent.”

Last week I posted this as my status update and I got some good response.  One person asked for more detail, so I thought I’d expand a bit here.

All throughout scripture we are told to be wise.

Proverbs 22:17 (NET)
[17] Incline your ear45 and listen to the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my instruction.46 [18] For it is pleasing if47 you keep these sayings48 within you, and49 they are ready on your lips.50 [19] So that51 your confidence may be in the LORD, I am making them known to you today52 – even you.

Yet nowhere are we called to be intelligent.  In fact, scripture sometimes calls intelligence “the wisdom of the world” and mocks it.  When I think about how I rear my children, I want to teach them to be wise, not intelligent.  Of course we educate our children in all of the standard curriculum offered today.  But what I really care about is that they are Christ-like.  That they live Spirit-led lives.  That they put others first and are kind and loving to those around them.  I want them to avoid debt and serve their boss with zeal.  I pray that they will be peacemakers and seek opportunities to share the gospel.  My desire is that they seek wise counsel, care for their family, and set an example in the body of Christ.

These are the things I was thinking about when I posted that status update.  These are the things I want to teach my children as they grow.

Ephesians 5:15 (NET)
[15] Therefore be very careful how you live – not as unwise but as wise, [16] taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil. [17] For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise22 by understanding23 what the Lord’s will is.


2 thoughts on “Wisdom Beats Intelligence

  1. Ryan,

    And you too! I hope you and Carol and the family are well too!

    Thanks for the explanation. I understand what you say. And, I agree. A pastor friend once told me: “Idea people (knowledge/intelligence oriented) are often not very good relationship (wisdom) people.” Thankfully, with your heart to nurture your children and with your living in America (with its resources and freedoms), you need not make the choice between intelligence and wisdom, as if it is an either/or thing. The founding fathers were both intelligent and wise, and so were Solomon and Paul and Jesus for that matter. The wisdom of this world is definitely a thing to avoid, seeing knowledge puffs up. “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17)

    My question, however, was ‘what has you thinking these thoughts?’ In other words, what situation or person stimulated your statement and the thoughts behind it? Maybe it was love for your children and for The Lord. Maybe it was love for wisdom or your having read that Psalm you mention. Maybe it was a statement that someone else made. Perhaps it was an observation you made of something or someone.

    Care to share?

    Kindest Regards

    • Actually, Sam, I was getting ready for my day and I was thinking about my children. Each of them has a very different God-given intellect. Some are more math focused. Others process language better. No matter how advanced or delayed any of my children are, I will work hard to teach them wisdom. In looking at scripture, raw intelligence seems to be something that God gives. Wisdom is something we are told to seek.

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