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Why Being Around Smarter People is a Good Thing

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We live in a world of image, ego, and selfie sticks. Social media allows us to hide the truth that we don’t have it all together. The worst place for this feeling (other than church)? Conferences.

4 Reasons It’s Good to Put All the Eggheads in One Basket

(Photo by Photodune)

Whether I go to a conference on writing, theology, broadcasting, or blogging, I fight the selfie stick syndrome. You probably do too. Smarter people are everywhere.

Here’s why it’s good for us to struggle with being around smarter people.

Surround Yourself with Smarter People than You

This week I attended the Evangelical Theological Society’s conference in Atlanta. I know, I know. That kind of conference sounds about as exciting as watching paint dry.

This conference put all the evangelical eggheads in one basket and scrambled them.

  • Some were raw.
  • Some were pretty hard-boiled.
  • Others seemed poached.
  • But they were smarter people than me.

I did my best to stay sunny-side up. But after day one, I cracked. Here’s why.

When the people in the room are smarter than you, it’s easy to crawl in a shell of inferiority. Or—you can soak it up, grow, and learn. Like lifting a mental barbell—the stress makes you stronger.

4 Reasons to Eat Up Opportunities with Eggheads

Gatherings of smarter people make us better people for at least 4 reasons:

  1. They force us out of our molds. Good conferences, classes, or lectures can squeeze us into new spaces by forcing us to hear the thoughts of others keener than us. It’s the classic setting for iron sharpening iron.
  2. They remind us how blessed we are to have smart people defending the truth. We forget God has some smart people when we watch the news. Have you noticed? When the networks interview the “Christian” perspective, they usually select some oddball extremist or theological liberal who thinks Genesis was Phil Collins’ band. How refreshing to hear sharp theologians and thinkers who can defend the truth well. We have some great minds on the side of biblical truth. Be encouraged.
  3. They force us to think why we believe what we believe. I heard talks from people whose views on certain strains of theology I deeply disagree with. My goal was not to convince them otherwise but to understand why they believed what they believed. This challenged me to look deeply at why I believe what I do—and where in the Bible I base that belief.
  4. They force us to keep the main thing the main thing. Listening to those who disagree with us boils away the dross on our attitudes. We realize that not everything sits on the same tier—and we should keep the gospel and other Christian essentials of orthodoxy in first place. Many other things rank lower—and so, they demand humility in our postures.

Also, conferences remind us how essential a good education is—especially for those of us in ministry. I see many young pastors, Christian leaders, and even laypeople serving God far less effectively than they could. Somehow they think their giftedness is all they need—or that the Holy Spirit will somehow give them what they lack. Neither is true.

The book of Proverbs says it simply:

The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom;
And with all your acquiring, get understanding. (Proverbs 4:7)

The verses urge us to make getting wisdom a priority. In fact, it suggests we get it at all costs. Spend money on your spiritual life and on becoming equipped for effective ministry.

You don’t have to toss away your selfie stick. But neither do you have to hide in a shell of inferiority.

Go to conferences and classes and surround yourself with those smarter people than you. Learn and get sharpened so that you become more effective where God has placed you.

Tell me what you think: How do you feel around those smarter than you? To leave a comment, just click here.

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