Does Intelligence Always Win?

Intelligence is highly valued in our culture—call someone intelligent and he will be delighted!  Are there more important things though?  Is a man well loved who is intelligent yet rude?  Or, does someone who is very intelligent necessarily have right understanding?  Could it be that a man of lower intelligence may actually beat out one of higher intelligence when it comes to living a thriving life?  How could this happen?

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Two men at work

Consider the following story.  I hired John, a very intelligent man I know, to take care of a few things at my home. One day I instruct him to work on a retaining wall in my yard and pick up an important package arriving by train from Chicago.  Our agreement states that he will be paid based upon how much of the wall he finishes and he will receive a fixed amount for retrieving the package.

On another day, I hire Bruce, a man of low intelligence yet a man of practical experience and common sense.  I offer the same terms to him that I agreed to with John.

The two men, given their differing intelligence, come at the task very differently.  John has a mind like a steel trap, and has the train schedules memorized.  He knows the Chicago train arrives at the station every day at 4:30.  He also knows that the route to the train station becomes congested during that time, and accounts for this, calculating that he must leave the house by 3:50 to make it on time.  This gives him the maximum time to work on the wall.  He has also studied engineering and foundation design, so he knows the latest methods for efficient and sturdy retaining wall construction.

Bruce, on the other hand, does not possess all this intelligence and knowledge.  He knows the basics to build a retaining wall, as his father had taught him years ago.  He doesn’t know the train schedules or the route to get to the station.  So, his first action is to call the station and ask the representative when the train arrives.  The representative informs him that a derailment yesterday has thrown off the usual schedule, and the Chicago train will be arriving an hour later than usual.  In addition, the main freeway into the station is currently under construction, so the rep informs Bruce of an alternate route.

You can guess how this story ends:  our intelligent man John spends a little over an hour sitting in traffic, arriving just too late to get the package, which is instead sent via courier.  When it’s all said and done, John spent more time in the car than Bruce, so despite his more efficient process, he didn’t accomplish more of the wall than Bruce did.  On top of that, he missed picking up the package, so when his invoice is totaled, he actually made less than Bruce.

What’s the Cause?

Now how did this happen?  John was smarter than Bruce, had more knowledge, and had worked out an ideal plan to maximize his efficiency.  How did he come in behind Bruce?

John simply did something that a great many people—people of high intelligence and people of low intelligence—do every day.  He did not test his assumptions.  It’s not that his plan was bad, in fact, his plan was probably better than Bruce’s.  But it was based on something false.  It was based on the train arriving at a time other than the true time, and it was based on the route to the station being open as usual.  Both of these falsehoods are rooted in John’s own mind.  He thought he knew, and so he didn’t take the time to check whether or not his beliefs were true.  Ample evidence and resources existed for him to test his beliefs and assumptions, yet he failed to use them because he wrongly believed he didn’t need them.

Could This Really Happen?

Perhaps it seems unrealistic that such a smart man as John would so foolishly neglect to check such an important component before making his plan.  Surely a smart person would know better, right?

Sadly, there are a great many people, people we meet and talk with every day, who are neglecting something far more important than a train schedule.  There are a great many important topics to be studied in this world, and many intelligent people study them each day, but none are more important than questions like these: How did I come to exist?  Who made me, and for what purpose?  And this one who made me, what is He like?

It Happens Every Day

As with the train schedule in our story, much evidence exists, and many reliable resources are available to answer life’s most important questions.  The Holy Bible reveals many things to us about what God is like and what He has done.  The historical accuracy and reliability of the Bible are facts clearly demonstrable through the archaeological records and the science of textual criticism.  The evidence is available for any and all who will take the time to investigate it.  But what do most people do?  Do they take an honest look at the Bible and the evidence that it is a document of divine origin?

Most people choose to reject the Bible as their foundation, not because they have looked at the evidence and do not find it compelling, but rather because they have never examined it at all.  Like the intelligent man in our story, many people think they know the train schedule, so they just assume the ideas in their mind are right.

The Right Foundation

The sad reality is that if we build our lives on the assumptions in our minds, we will have a grand structure sitting on a foundation of sand.  When time reveals the truth of God’s Word and Christ’s promises, many will regret their failure to seek and find the truth.  What about you?  Are your beliefs about God rooted in reliable foundations or untested assumptions?  How much time have you spent investigating the claims that the Bible is God’s Word, reliable and written for you?

The answers and the evidence are out there, and great resources like www.equip.org will help you sort out the truth.  The question is, will you seek the truth or will you live tomorrow as you lived today—confident in your belief that the train arrives at 4:30?  John’s consequence for being too late was simply losing a little money; realizing Christ is Lord too late will cost you your soul.

Spend It All

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Good Advice

Here’s a statement you might not expect from a financial expert:   you should spend all your money!  In fact, you should spend the entire month’s income, even before the month begins.  You should spend it on purpose, by creating your cashflow plan before the first of the month.

Now, some of your money should be spent into your savings account.  Some should be spent paying down debts.  Some should be spent by investing into your retirement.  But it should all be spent.  Your income needs to exactly zero with all expenses, including savings and investments.  Why?  Because it isn’t until you lay out all income for January with all expenses in January that you  can make educated decisions about how much to allocate to the various competing uses your money can have.

You’re in Control

The beauty of using a cashflow planning tool like ThriveWealthy is that it puts you more in control of how your money is spent!  Since you are now making educated decisisons and prioritizing the things you value as most important, you are actually able to achieve more, and enjoy some of the better things in life.  Why not give this great free tool a try today?

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Choosing Your Smile

Who likes smiling? Buddy the elf, of course, but is he the only one? How about you? Do you enjoy smiling and laughing? What I’ve recently realized is that in the past, I had waited for something external to me to cause me to laugh or smile.  And in doing this, I gave up the power to control my state of mind, not to mention the state of mind of those around me. Are you interested in enjoying yourself more, and being around people who are enjoying themselves more?

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It’s a Decision

The more time I spend around successful people, the more I realize that success is a planned event.  Winners are not blown about by their circumstances or their feelings.  It’s not that they don’t have feelings; they simply use their feelings to inform their thinking, and then choose to move forward positively.

It’s a matter of what’s a cause and what’s an effect.  Kids are captives to their feelings.  As we grow and mature, we need to learn to control our attitudes and our disposition. Try this–be angry while smiling.  It’s very difficult! When you make a decision to view your situation as great, to have expectation that good things will happen, you exert influence on the situation.

Give to Receive

I find, with rare exception, that approaching someone with a smile and treating them politely tends to cause them to smile at me and treat me politely.  There are some people who are so negative, that event this won’t work.  Determine who these people are by taking the action above, and then consider avoiding these people in the future.  😀 But you know, a great majority of people, when approached with a positive attitude, will respond in kind.

Waiting to Feel Like It

I have missed out on positive and enjoyable interactions many times, simply because I mixed up cause and effect.  I didn’t feel like smiling and expecting my interaction to be positive.  Because I didn’t feel like it, I didn’t do it, and I didn’t experience the benefit.  I have since found that smiling and positive expectations are a decision, and I may choose to have them or not.

The funny thing is, thise times that I don’t feel like being positive, but simply decided to smile and decided to expect good things, I often have found that my circumstances change, becoming more positive, and resulting in a more enjoyable time. As I enjoy this improved interaction, I naturally begin to smile and feel positive about the situation.

Adjusting Our Habits

How did I miss such a simple and now seemingly obvious truth? Waiting to be happy, depending on your circumstances, causes your emotions to be blown around by the winds of your circumstances.  Conversely, deciding intentionally what your outlook will be will tend to bring you more positive interactions, resulting in a more enjoyable experience and a naturally positive outlook.  Simple, right? then why do we miss it?

Likely this isn’t the first time you’ve heard that it’s good to be positive.  In fact, when you last heard or read this idea, it probably made you feel positive for a while.  But guess what? All that is is being influenced positively by positive circumstances! If that’s all you do, the positive outlook will only stay until a negative circumstance comes!

Instead, make a decision that you will choose to smile and be positive, even when your circumstances make you want to feel otherwise.  Acknowledge that you’re facing a tough situation, pick yourself up, choose to smile, and walk forward into your next successful moment. And as you do, enjoy the benefits of your thriving life!

Two Archers

“What is truth?”  These words, uttered to Christ by Pontius Pilate during the trial of Jesus are an old-world example of a “new” and popular view in our culture today.  It goes like this:  “what’s good for me is good for me; what’s good for you if good for you.  There’s no real standard, we just make it up ourselves.”  Sounds nice, doesn’t it?  What could be wrong with such a friendly and tolerant worldview??

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A Story of Two Men

Two men entered an archery contest. In the first year of competition, both men missed the bull’s-eye with every shot. A few shots missed the target entirely. In the year that followed, one man learned of a master archer, one who’s arrows had never missed the bull’s-eye. The man then heard that the master’s score and the purse associated with winning the contest were available to him for free, should he submit himself to the master’s instruction. He immediately discarded his former ideas on archery and went to live with the master and learn from him.

The other man spurned the master, caring nothing for his instruction. Instead, he told himself that the target in the contest was incorrectly placed, and much too small. He sought to convince others to ignore the standards of the archery contest, and introduced different targets of his own making.

The first man spent his year training from the master. Though he did not hit the bull’s-eye very often, He never denied that the target was real. His shots improved week to week to week, and he came to resemble the master more and more. The second man continued his delusion for the entire year, and led many who followed him astray.

The Day Comes

When the contest came, the folly of the second man was evident. For all his smooth arguments and denial of the standards, the target was indeed real. The second man was incapable of hitting the bulls-eye, and went away dejected. The first man was also incapable of hitting the bull’s-eye. The master stepped up and hit the bulls-eye with every arrow, and when he received the prize, he gave it to the first man, as he had originally promised to do. The first man’s arrows had not hit the bulls-eye, yet he received the prize based upon the work of the master. He did not earn the prize; he simply submitted himself to the master and devoted himself his teaching and received the prize as a gift.

Our Holy and Awesome Maker

God is perfect, He his love.  He is truthful and compassionate, caring and just.  His very person is the root of all goodness and truth.  He shows us in His Word what He is like, and sin is defined as anything that is against God, or runs contrary to his character.

Our Need

We are all sinners. By our nature, we desire to live in rebellion against God and do what we want. We don’t love His commands or His Word, we want nothing to do with them. In this state, we will never seek God, and we certainly do not desire to spend eternity worshiping Him.

God’s Solution

And yet, while we were sinners, God acted. God humbled Himself to become a human, even taking the humility of being born in a stable, as we just finished celebrating. Jesus lived the life we were incapable of living, perfectly keeping the Law. He was then tortured and killed, taking on our punishment and taking our place. If anyone will place his faith in Christ, his sin is washed away. Our debt of sin is paid, and we are free!

Your Choice

Faced with this truth, the gospel, we have two choices. Embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, love Him, and live His way, or reject Him. He will either be our Lord and Savior or not. When we die, God allows us to keep our choice for eternity. I choose to follow Christ, to have faith in Him, and do all I can to share this truth with my neighbors and my family. Will you this day turn from living your own way and trust Him? He is gentle and humble of heart, and in Him you will find rest for your soul.  The Master invites you, will you follow Him?

Success in Reaching Your Goals

Can you believe 2014 is here already?!  I hope you had a great year, and I further hope that you’re looking to make the coming year even better!  One good thing that many people do is to use the new year as a time to set goals to improve themselves—this IS a good thing, IF we take these resolutions seriously and succeed.  Unfortunately, in many cases, our lofty goals are left unfinished and our resolutions are abandoned before a full month has even passed.  How can you separate yourself from the masses and actually achieve your plans for growth in 2014?

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If you have the desire to live healthier, improve your finances, grow in your spiritual walk, or any other goal for living a more rewarding and successful life, take advantage of your desire by applying the most significant key to success in fitness or any other area of life:  adopting new habits.

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

Take a simple example of a short-lived new year’s goal of losing weight.  One’s natural inclination after a whole December (or whole 2013) of overeating and inactivity is to overcorrect.  We think that to even out big meals over the last several weeks, we should break our year-long fast of jogging by running 5 miles.  We take the high enthusiasm to get fit and convert it into a short burst of high activity.  But we tend to neglect a few important steps.

The Big Challenge:  Change

First, we fail to recognize that adopting a new routine involves one of the most difficult things there is:  changing one’s habits.  One big mistake at this point is that we try to accomplish this feat alone.  Accountability is absolutely essential to get into and stay with the routine of working out regularly, week after week.  Find a friend who has success in the area you’re pursuing growth in.  Decide how often and for what duration you will connect for accountability and encouragement, and specifically what goals you will pursue.

Write it Down

This leads right into the second necessary step for getting and staying fit:  setting goals and writing them down.   Make sure your goals are  specific, measurable, that they have a due date.  For example, if your goal is to get in better shape, the following goal serves as a good example.

I will improve my one-mile run time to below 7:00 minutes and lose 10 pounds by February 15.

To accomplish this, I will exercise for 20 minutes, three times per week using the ThriveFit program.  I will write down my workout results every day, and email a weekly report every Sunday evening to my fitness mentor to seek his feedback.

Instant Feedback

Notice how this is a specific plan with set dates and times and clear markers to shoot at.  The reason this is such an important step is that it gives you a standard to measure yourself against for immediate feedback should you start to falter.  Without this plan, you’ll tend to let your habits slip little by little as the days go by, until you are left back where you started, and with a vague sense of dissatisfaction with yourself.  With clear goals and a specific schedule to reach them, you’ll know immediately when you’re getting off course.  In addition to that, the goal or dream that you’ve identified will help motivate you on the days when you don’t feel like doing the work.

Let Us Help!

Remember, changing habits is hard, and our aim is to create good long-term habits for a better life.  Don’t kill yourself on the first day such that you can’t move tomorrow.  Keep your focus on identifying and executing effective and sustainable habits.

Our ThriveMart store has a wide array of great products to support you in a healthy and successful life.  Just comment on our facebook page or send us a message and we’ll help you identify the right products for you.  And as always, be sure to check back with us each week for motivation and encouragement along the way—we’re here to help you thrive!