If God Knows Our Every Need, Why Does He Tell Us To Pray?

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Most of us don’t like to humble ourselves. At least I don’t like to. And prayer is an act of humility. Prayer is an act of weakness. When we pray we admit to God that we desperately need help. That we’re weak and needy and not in control of all things. That we are not self-sufficient.

But God is attracted to this act of humility. So in one Peter 5:6-7 he tells us:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

We humble ourselves “under the mighty hand of God.”  In other words prayer acknowledges that God is sovereign and controls all things. We bow before his sovereignty. We acknowledge that God rules but his mighty hand and we can’t control a single thing in and of ourselves.

Prayer waits for “the proper time” for God to lift us up.  Waiting for God is humbling for again, we acknowledge that we can’t change anything and must wait for God to.  We must patiently wait for the One who knows the end from the beginning, the infinitely wise one, who knows the absolute perfect time to come riding in to rescue us or supply our need.  He knows the perfect time to answer our prayers. Our affliction won’t last one second longer than he determines.

God tells us to cast all our anxieties on him. Why must we tell God our cares when he already knows them? Because asking is an act of humility, and since God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5), prayer puts us in the position to receive grace.  God so longs to pour out his grace on us he tells us the best way to receive it!

God tells us to cast or anxieties on him “because he cares for you.” When we pray it’s important to remind ourselves that God, the creator of the galaxies, the sustainer of heaven and earth, is deeply concerned for us – individually. I used to think God was so busy running the universe he didn’t have time for my “petty” needs. But I found out that God loves and cares deeply about his children individually.  He knows us by name.  He knows every hair on our heads.  So pray because God cares about you and your anxieties and needs.  If he feeds the sparrows of the field and the ravens that cry out, how much more will he hear the cries of his precious blood-bought children?

Don’t be proud. Don’t try to tough it out and get through life on your own. Humble under the hand of the Almighty who is tenderhearted, sympathetic and generous, and waiting to pour out grace. Cast your anxieties on him and he will lift you up at the proper time.

The Antidote To Selfish Ambition

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Our culture tends to be self-focused and self-absorbed.

We say things like “You have to look out for number one. Because if you don’t look out for number one, no one else will.” TV commercials constantly tell us what we need to make us happy. TV psychiatrists tell us we should love ourselves more and be sure to bolster our self-esteem. But when Jesus comes into our lives and rescues us from our sins, he begins to reorient our whole mindset about everything in life, including our tendency to be self-focused.  So he tells us in Php 2:3-4:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Selfish ambition and conceit (pride) tries to get more of this world for itself, tries to advance itself over others, always wants more. More admiration, more power, more possessions. But contrary to what the world says, selfish ambition won’t fulfill us, but is really the enemy of joy.

As believers in Jesus, we need to remember that we have all the riches of God in Christ. We have the encouragement, comfort, sympathy and affection of Jesus! We have the fellowship, comfort, guidance and counsel of the Holy Spirit. We don’t need to get ahead of others or get more than them. We don’t need to be admired more than others; we have Christ to encourage us. We don’t need to be loved more than others; we have the comfort of Christ’s love.  So God says out of our fullness here’s what we should do:

in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

This doesn’t mean that everyone else is more significant than us, but that we should COUNT or CONSIDER them to be so. Think of them as more significant than ourselves.  When we go to church or our fellowship group, we should think, These brothers and sisters of mine are SIGNIFICANT – they are important to God. I’m not going just for myself but for THEM.  This mindset leads us to do what verse 4 says:

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

This doesn’t say don’t look to your own interests or that your interests are unimportant.  It says “Let each of you look NOT ONLY to his own interests, BUT ALSO to the interests of others.” All of us have concerns. All of us go through tough times. All of us have prayer requests. So our mindset should be – I’m not just focused on me and my interests. I want to focus on others as well. I want to be concerned for them ALSO.

D.A. Carson says, “It is also very practical to make a habit of thinking and speaking of the interests of others rather than boring people by constantly dwelling on our own interests”

In other words TAKE AN INTEREST IN PEOPLE. Find out about them. When you first meet someone you don’t start with What’s your biggest struggle? You get to know them. You find out about where they work or what their major is. You might ask about their families or maybe about hobbies they enjoy. You may say, Mark I hate making small talk. But in church it’s not simply small talk. Eventually they may open up about a problem they’re having or a spiritual struggle that you can encourage them about.  Romans 12:15 says:

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Our Christian life is a shared life. We live this life with others. We’re not isolated individuals. We’re all part of Christ’s body. So what happens to you affects me. When you’re blessed, I’m blessed. When you suffer, I suffer. When I stub my toe, my whole body goes into action to comfort my toe. My arms send my hands down and my eyes direct them to the aching toe. My fingers grab my toe and massage it as my mouth cries, “Ow, ow, ow!”

You may say, Mark, I feel like no one cares for my soul. If that’s the case, I feel really bad for you. My advice would be – and I know this might be really challenging for some of you – but my advice would be for YOU to begin to try to care for the souls of others. Ask others how they are doing. Ask how you can pray for them. Because in MT 7:12 Jesus said:

Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Do you want others to take an interest in you? Then take an interest in them. Do you want others to be compassionate to you? Then be compassionate toward them.

We can all be tempted to think about our church or fellowship group at times, “What am I getting out of this?” But our gatherings are not ONLY for what we personally get out of it, but they are for what we can do for others.

So I encourage you today to meditate on and thank Jesus for the riches you’ve received in him and look for ways to take an interest in others.

The Fickle Pursuit of Fame

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Fame is a fickle thing. It comes to many who do not seek it and is an unwelcome guest. It avoids many who do seek it leaving them in vain pursuit. When it is found by those who seek it is unsatisfactory and often destructive. After being destructive for period it often abandons them, leaving them in a worse state than they were before it arrived.

And the oddest thing about fame is that the people who manage it best are those who act is if they don’t have it.

Fame creates a riddle that is unsolvable. When one doesn’t have any he wants some, but as soon as he has some he needs more. Once more is found he wants none, but neither can he bear the thought of giving up what he has.

It all makes one wonder why anyone would seek fame?

And yet we do. The desire to be famous burns hot. And if we can’t be famous we want to know famous. That’s why People Magazine  and E! TV are so popular (it’s certainly not because of the creative and artistic value). We brag about seeing actress X at the airport or athlete Y at the grocery store. It’s as if the knowledge of fame or proximity to it rubs a little magic fairy famous dust off onto us so we can feel famousy for a moment.

But what is about Fame that so captivates and nearly stupefies society? Once upon a time it was because of what athletes, actors, musicians, politicians, or authors accomplished, their actions. But now? The aim isn’t to do what they do. Fame is the goal itself. If you need proof just take a gander at so called “reality TV stars” on shows like or the Jackass movies. (As an aside, what does it mean to be a reality” star? You’re more real? You live a realer life?)

People want fame because people want to matter even what makes them famous matters nothing at all. The thought goes like this: “If someone knows who I am I gain significance, so the more people that know me the more significant I am.” Even if you’re known for a 72 day marriage, public drunkenness, stupid stunts, or a sex tape.

Even Christians fall into this trap, and in Christianity the fame bug bites with an even weirder kind of venom. People seek fame through doing good – preaching, writing, giving, serving. But when the fame becomes the motive and not the good that points to God, we know our Christianity is upside down.

Fame, at its best, is a bi-product of doing things that truly matter. It is something that is received, not sought after. We are not wise or good enough to rightly handle fame, and that’s why the best famous people are those who spurn it. For those of us who are not famous we should simply focus on the good and let God get the fame. And by all means, avoid all reality TV.

Always Apologize First

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On occasion a particularly young and/or naïve person asks me for advice about being a husband or a dad. (No one seasoned or wise bothers.) Since I got married young and had kids young I have “experience”, I guess. By “experience”, of course, I mean scars and bruises from stumbling into obstacles created by my own idiocy and arrogance.

When the question is put to me “what piece of advice would you give to a new husband/dad” I want to leave minds blown and mouths agape. I want to utter a witticism that would make Solomon jealous and Confucius plagiarize. Instead, all I have ever been able to come up with is this: “Always apologize first.”

Somewhere along the way I was given this piece of advice — or pieces of advice that added up to it. It’s so simple but time and again has proven itself to be the piece of advice I needed. It falls under the grand banner of “A soft answer turns away wrath” and enforces both humility and self-examination. Apologizing first is the bucket of water which douses the flames threatening to burn bridges between wife and husband or father and children.

To apologize first requires a person to genuinely reflect on his role in any conflict. I can’t remember many occasions when I was totally innocent in a conflict with my wife or children. Even if they’ve wronged me I nearly always contribute to the conflict with self-righteousness, pride, or just generally being a jerk in return. I always earn the right to apologize (and, be honest, so do you). If I am always intent on apologizing first I will dig through my heart to find that word or attitude that caused hurt or conflict. I will figure out what debt I owe to my wife or my daughters and go settle accounts with them

Apologizing first encourages the other person to apologize. By walking back their way you shortened the distance they have to come to make their own apology whenever they are ready. It’s much easier to say “I’m sorry too” than it is to simply say “I’m sorry.” Do the hard part so that it’s easier for others to follow in kind.

Apologizing is a beautiful example for your children (and spouse). I know too many people who can’t remember their parents ever admitting wrong doing or apologizing for anything. To apologize to my girls for losing my temper or being inattentive to them is a significant example for them and necessary deflater for me. It does much to create a culture of humility and forgiveness in our home so that when wrongs happen they don’t fester. It builds trust because they learns it’s safe to say  “I’m sorry” because forgiveness follows. Most importantly, apologizing first helps me explain how far from perfect I am and my own need to be forgiven by God for my sins.

I write this to share something that has helped me enormously. I hate being wrong, so apologizing is something loathsome to me. I’d rather explain, defend, and justify. Of course that just means apologies are something I need to offer all the more. It is a struggle every time to set aside my own ego and admit my fault and ask forgiveness. Maybe that’s why someone offered me this advice – they saw my own need. Maybe you are humbler than I am, but for those who aren’t give it a try. Apologize first. It will do wonders for your relationships and heart.

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The Thing That Will Bring You The Most Freedom Today

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What’s the most freeing thing you could possible do today?

That question could conjure up all sorts of associations in your mind. You might think of freedom from something: oppression, fear, anxiety, challenging relationships, or difficult circumstances. You might think of freedom to something: to do what you want, live as you want to live, go where you want to go. Since “freedom” is such a broad concept, I’ll narrow the question down even more:

What frees you to be who you’re meant to be – today?

The answer to that question might surprise you. It certainly flies in the face of most contemporary conversations about things like self-actualization or advice like “be true to yourself.” The single most freeing thing you can do today, or any day, is this: admit your dependence on God.

Dependence. Not a word we often associate with achieving our potential! But if God is who God proclaims himself to be, and if we are who he says we are, then dependence is a necessary concept. Listen to how the Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck described this idea over a century ago:

What makes human beings religious beings and drives them toward religion is the realization that they are related to God in a way that specifically differs from all their other relationships. This relationship is so deep and tender, so rich and many-dimensional, that it can only with difficulty be expressed in a single concept. But certainly the concept of dependence deserves primary consideration and is best qualified for this purpose.

Pause. Does this sound like bad news to you – or, at the very least, not a “freeing” bit of advice? Keep listening. As Bavinck goes on to say,

We are absolutely dependent in such a manner that the denial of this dependence never makes us free, while the acknowledgement of it never reduces us to the status of a slave. On the contrary: in the conscious and voluntary acceptance of this dependence, we human beings arrive at our greatest freedom. We become human to the degree that we are children of God. (Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 1, p.267; emphasis added.)

Did you catch that? Denying your dependency never makes you free. Acknowledging your dependency never makes you a slave. On the contrary, dependence is what it means to be human – because at heart, we were made to be God’s children.

So how does this work today? It boils down to this. You were not made to function like a wind-up toy. You and I were made to live in conscious and constant dependence on God. But living dependently doesn’t mean we give up our responsibilities, our hopes and aspirations, our ambition, our goals, or our daily job. It means we see all those as areas where God calls us to admit our need for him – and by so doing, to find our true freedom.

The most freeing thing you can do today is to admit your need for God, even in the minutiae of your daily routine. Pray for help to finish those emails before clocking out. Ask for strength to clean up snotty noses and spilled cereal. Consciously lean into God through Jesus Christ in whatever lies before. Because this is what you were made for.

Photo by Kalyan Chakravarthy

Don’t Get Drunk on Power

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Power is intoxicating. This is just a fancy way of saying it makes us lose our heads. We gain power and we get stupid. It gets into our blood stream and affects our thinking and our actions.

Likely you don’t think you have power. Think again. If you are parent you are a concentrated force of power. Teachers, coaches, and managers all wield significant power. Anyone in a position of authority does, but so too does anyone who is respected or looked up to. The salesman who can talk a negotiation into his favor and the pretty lady who can get her way with a bat of the eye lashes are both powerful. If you are richer, smarter, or more disciplined than others you have power. Really, only infants and the desperately poor lack any sort of notable power.

As Ben Parker once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” He was right, but he missed something significant: with any power comes great temptation. As sinful people we constantly look to gain the approval of some at the expense of others. We look to climb over those we can to gain higher heights just to make ourselves feel better. We abuse the power we have.

We threaten our kids and yell at our kids to get them to obey. We intimidate and coerce those in our influence. We manipulate those we see as weaker. We treat people weaker than us in ways we would never dream of treating our equals. Basically we do things we wouldn’t ever do if we were in our right minds. Kind of like a drunk person.

We need to know our limits. How much power can we handle without getting tipsy? When over-do it, what kind of dumb choices are we prone to? It won’t be streaking, a regrettable tattoo, or bowing to the porcelain god with a wicked hangover. More likely it will mean someone is hurt badly. Power intoxication doesn’t leave cars wrapped around phone poles, but it will leave relationships in burning ruins.

We can’t always help what power we have, but we can handle it responsibly. We must know ourselves enough to know when to walk away or back down. Intoxication comes from abuse, from over-doing it. Know your limits. Be willing to say no thanks, even (especially) if it is just to yourself. The damage of power-drunkness is incalculable.

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Is Your Humility Real?

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Humility is a vital Christian virtue. Solomon, Peter, and James all agree: God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Prov. 3:34, 1 Pet. 5:5, James 4:6). While every single believer struggles against pride, the pursuit of humility is a key ingredient in maturity.

But humility can be misunderstood. There’s false humility, the “Oh, it was nothing…” that we use to actually elicit more praise. But there’s also a kind of “unreal” humility, a genuine but misguided attempt to pursue this virtue.

What does unreal humility look like?  No one I’ve read helps me understand it better than C.S. Lewis. In The Screwtape Letters Lewis inverts his own thoughts on humility and puts them in the words of Screwtape, a senior demon writing to his protégé Wormwood with advice on how to tempt Wormwood’s Christian “patient.” Listen to what Screwtape says about real and unreal humility:

By this virtue, as by all the others, our Enemy [God, in this context] wants to turn the man’s attention away from self to Him, and to the man’s neighbors…You must therefore conceal from the patient the true end of Humility. Let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion (namely, a low opinion) of his own talents and character…By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools…The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favor that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbor’s talents – or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall.

…[God’s] whole effort, therefore, will be to get the man’s mind off the subject of his own value altogether. He would rather the man thought himself a great architect or a great poet and then forgot about it, then that he should spend much time and pains trying to think himself a bad one. Your efforts to instill either vainglory or false modesty into the patient will therefore be met from the Enemy’s side with the obvious reminder that a man is not usually called upon to have an opinion of his own talents at all, since he can very well go on improving them to the best of his ability without deciding on his own precise niche in the temple of Fame.

Do you see how Lewis defines humility there? It’s not an exaggerated low opinion of one’s self, but self-forgetfulness coupled with awareness of others. Pride says, “I am Somebody (with a capital ‘S’) – look at me!” Unreal humility says, “I am nobody – look away from me.” But real humility simply says, “I am God’s – look at these people I can love!”

In the end, humility is simply living in light of reality. God is God, and I am not. But as a person made in God’s image and redeemed by Christ, I am a part –not an indispensable part, but a real part nonetheless – of God’s purposes. I don’t need to sort out my “own precise niche” in those purposes to throw myself into them with self-forgetting abandon. And that, Lewis says in another place, is exactly what real humility looks like:

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him…He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all. (Mere Christianity, 108)

May the Lord give us real humility!

Photo by viZZZual.com

The One Question That Creates Humility and Thankfulness

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What do you have that you did not receive? 1 Corinthians 4:7

Meditating on this truth goes a long way toward producing humility and thankfulness in us. All that we know about God we received as a gift, either from God or from others. Our knowledge of God comes primarily from Scripture. We didn’t write it or print it or distribute the Bible. God gave his word to Moses and Isaiah and Matthew and Paul, who wrote it down. Others distributed it, translated it, printed it. Eventually God’s word came to us. Maybe someone witnessed to us or we heard a preacher or someone gave us a Bible. But all we know of God is ultimately a gift from God and others.

Our talents, our ability to think, our eyes, ears, hands, fingers – all a gift from God. If you can read this you are using hundreds of blessings he has heaped on you. The other day I was racking my brain to try to remember something I hadn’t thought about for months. Suddenly it popped into my mind. Where in the world does memory come from? What a miracle. Our brain – a mass of flesh – can store immaterial information, then recall it. My 95 year old dad is in a personal care facility, highly medicated for pain and out of it
much of the time, will sing along if you start singing “Dancing Cheek to Cheek,” a song written by Irving Berlin in 1935, sung by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the 1935 movie Top Hat. How does that work? What a gift memory is. (And what a gift is Google, which I used to look up the song.)

Our incomes, jobs, our homes – all gifts from God. “But I worked hard to get my degree, applied myself, worked hard – that’s how I got where I am.” Who gave you your intelligence to study? Who gave you diligence? Who made the opportunities for you to advance? All you have is a gift.

All we have we were given. The country we were born in, the language we speak, the educational opportunities – we didn’t make
those for ourselves. Hey Mr. Proud Peacock, nice feathers you’re strutting around showing off. Who gave you those? Did you make them yourself?

What do you have that you did not receive? Think about this today. Turn it into thankfulness and humility before your generous King.

In Praise of Trash Talk and True Humility

What follows is a true and accurate account of every post-game interview ever given since the inception of time:

INTERVIEWER: Tell me about the game tonight. You guys pulled out the win. What were the keys to your success?

COACH / ATHLETE: Well, you know, we just did the right things at the right time. We executed, we made plays, we scored points. That’s what it really boils down to: scoring points and making plays. The guys really came together today. You know, nobody believed in us. All season long nobody believed in us. We made some belivers today.

INTERVIEWER: You had a great game today. You scored 55 points and had 13 rebounds. Why did you have such a great game?

COACH / ATHLETE: You know, I gotta give all the credit to my teammates. They got me the ball at the right time and made some great plays. You know, sometimes you’re just feeling it. I was able to execute tonight, but I got to thank God and thank my teammates first. I couldn’t do it without the other guys.

INTERVIEWER: Talk about your opponent. You beat them by sixty points. I mean, you totally obliterated those guys.

COACH / ATHLETE: Ah man, I’ve got tons of respect for those guys. They’re a quality team and they played a quality game tonight. They’re a great team with a great coach. We just got lucky tonight.

INTERVIEWER: In your next game you are favored by 103 points. In the game after that you go up against the number one team in the country. What’s your mindset right now?

COACH / ATHLETE: We’re just taking it one game at a time. We gotta prepare for our next opponent. We can’t look past our next game. I got tons of respect for our next opponent, and we really gotta prepare for them. We’re just giving 100%, one game at a time.

The above transcript has been repeated thousands of times by every coach and athlete who has ever played sports.

Except for Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman.

After he deflected the game-winning touchdown pass away from 49’ers receiver Michael Crabtree, Sherman flipped out in his post-game interview, proclaiming himself the best corner in the game and proclaiming Crabtree to be a “sorry” receiver. Check out his crazy interview in the video clip below.

Sherman was promptly taken to task by the media for his rather unsportsmanlike words. Yesterday Sherman apologized for “attacking” Crabtree and for “deflecting” attention away from his teammates.

Personally, I found Sherman’s rant a bit refreshing.

Was it wrong for Sherman to insult Crabtree? Yes. Was it arrogant to proclaim himself the best corner in the game? Yep. Were his remarks unsportsmanlike? Yes. Do I want my kids imitating Sherman? No.

But in our age of bland, vanilla, politcally-correct, mind-numbingly boring, falsely humble, everybody is a winner, gold stars for everyone, post-game interviews, it was kind of nice to see someone finally say what they really thought. It was kind of nice to see someone give an honest assessment of themselves and their opponent.

As I think about this whole situation, I’m reminded of what Paul says in Romans 12:3

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

True, God-honoring humility means thinking rightly about oneself. True humility means not thinking too highly of yourself AND not thinking too lowly of yourself. It means seeing yourself as God sees you. It means assessing your gifts and abilities and strengths with sober judgment.

I don’t want my daughters to think they can be whatever they want when they grow up. My oldest daughter, Charis, doesn’t seem to be particularly athletically inclined. She probably won’t play in the WNBA when she grows up, no matter how much she believes in herself. I suppose she could develop athletic skill later in life, but I’m not convinced it’s going to happen. She is, however, very creative. She builds wonderful Lego towers and creates mountains of drawings and paintings.

I want Charis to understand that God has given her particular strengths and has not given her other strengths. I want Charis to be able to evaluate her gifts soberly, with the proper judgment. I want the same thing for myself. I want to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses accurately. I think it would be accurate to say I’m a good writer. I’m not a great writer, like N.D. Wilson or Stephen King, but I’m good. It would be foolish and false humility to say I have no gifts whatsoever.

The way to grow in humility is by asking God to help us have sober judgment regarding our strengths and weaknesses. The way to help our kids grow in humility is by helping them accurately understand their God-given strengths and weaknesses.

We don’t need more trash talk. We do need more true, honest humility.

Don’t Be The Smartest Guy in the Room

 

I love being the smartest guy in the room, or at least thinking I am. It’s an ego thing. And of course that means it’s not a good thing. It’s not good to be the smartest guy, and it’s really not good to think I am. In fact, all my worst decisions in life have resulted from putting myself in this situation — thinking of myself as the smartest. It has never ended well.

That label “smartest guy” (or gal), whether it’s true or not, makes us vulnerable to our own weaknesses. When I think I am smarter than everyone else my respect for them almost automatically diminishes. I have made the valuation that I am above them, and this makes it easy to ignore their opinions and contributions.  Clearly any perspective but mine doesn’t matter. I become a council of one. And when this happens my weaknesses and blind spots are magnified because I have removed any checks and balances.

“Smartest” is a deceiving and nebulous term. It feels good to be called or to call ourselves, but it’s almost never true. We may be the most knowledgeable about a particular subject or the best at a particular activity, but we are never the best or most knowledgeable about everything. In any given room or on any given team there are people who have better insights, more knowledge, or greater skills than we do in different areas. To think of ourselves as “smartest” is patently false.

If we ever find ourselves “in a room” (a context) where we are the smartest, we should change it, and fast, either by helping others get smarter or by switching rooms. Which of these is the best solution depends on circumstance. When I’m with my two young daughters I’m probably smarter than they are (although the seven year old is giving me a run for my money), but my responsibility is to teach and share and help them discover so that they surpass me. But I also need to conscientiously listen to them; they have insights of their own that can correct and teach me, and if I am so content to be “smarter” I end up worse off.

If I find myself on a team at work on which no one is smarter than me I must do all I can to change that too. It could be assisting teammates to develop their skills and knowledge. Or it might mean that the team needs to change, either because I leave or others do. Much of this depends on circumstance, authority, and flexibility. But no matter what the situation cannot remain status quo.

To stay in a static situation where we are the smartest is asking for problems. No matter how smart any of us is, we will always still have weaknesses and blind spots, and the less resistance those around us put up — or that we accept — the more they grow and become problematic. In any context, no matter the intellect or giftedness of those around us, we shouldn’t resort exclusively to our own counsel. But we inevitably will if we think of ourselves as the smartest.