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How Important Is It To Be “Smart”?


It’s really fun to be smart.  I love to read, go to museums, and learn new things.  I feel stagnant if I watch to much T.V. or spend to much time with pointless Internet surfing.

All my life, I have strived to be smart.  I always tried to learn a lot, get good grades in school, use big words, etc., not just for the intrinsic value of these things, but also to be perceived as smart.

A lot of people think being smart is really important.  After all, you need to be smart in order to get into a good college, and you need a degree from a fancy college to get a good job, right?


Despite being in the top 10% of my high school class, I went to community college, then finished my Bachelor’s degree at a state university.  Nothing fancy.  But I managed to find reasonably good jobs in my chosen field, and now I have a career.  My employers have cared very little about the grades I got in school.  I have coworkers who have fancier degrees from much fancier schools than mine, yet we all have the same job.

So…your life isn’t over if you don’t go to Harvard.

There’s also something else I’ve been thinking about lately.  It’s something I started realizing when I started making more friends outside of a school or work setting.  I started to become friends with people I never would have become friends with in high school, because we would have been part of different cliques.  That’s when I realized that being “smart” has nothing to do with whether or not you are a good person.

Just look at our president.  When President Obama was running for election the first time, my liberal friends gushed about “smart” he is.  So what?  Look at the dishonesty and corruption of his administration.  I don’t care how smart he is when I can’t trust his character and patriotism.

The rest of this post will be devoid of politics, I promise.

A couple weeks ago my sister-in-law shared a story about her son.  On his birthday, the substitute teacher invited my nephew’s classmates to share things they like about him.  One student said that he is a good friend to everyone.  The substitute remarked that, even though she had only met him that day, she could tell that he was indeed a good friend to everyone.

Being a good friend isn’t something my nephew learned in school.  He didn’t learn it by studying math and reading.  It’s part of who he is.  Whatever college he goes to or however smart people think he is doesn’t matter as much as being a good friend.

One of the things I like about my husband is that we are able to have intellectually stimulating conversations.  We like to talk about history, politics, literature, and whatnot.  But those conversations aren’t what keep our relationship strong.  How my husband shows me he loves me and that I’m his first priority are far more important to me than how smart he is.

When I think about the people I have most admired, it isn’t their intelligence that makes me want to emulate them.  It’s virtues, like kindness, patience, determination, and courage.

I have no idea how smart Mother Theresa was, yet everyone holds her up as an example.  Why?  Because of her great love and sacrifice for others.

I don’t think God cares about how smart we are, either.  After all, we all have far less knowledge and wisdom than He does.  What matters from an eternal perspective is how faithful and obedient we are.

I’m not saying that intelligence doesn’t matter.  Assuredly, I believe strongly in the necessity of getting a good education and in exercising the mind as we do the body.  Intelligence is, however, secondary in importance to character.



  1. sjah1 says:

    Honestly one of your best blogs ever.

  2. LisaB says:

    Then look at what is required of (US) public school teachers–PhDs, eventually–school forever–but sloppy morals and dress abound–defended, even. No wonder we lose our kids to confusion.

  3. Cool_Guy_51 says:

    That’s a good point that you made

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