Be Good at Life


Let’s start by stating the obvious – Everyone wants to make good decisions. In fact, call me crazy, but I’d go as far as to say that everyone wants to make better decisions. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond, so everyone wants to be a better responder.

It’s just a simple fact that if you make good decisions, well… you’ll be good. Or if you make better decisions, then you’ll be… wait for it… better. (Deep. I know. Your mind is blown. Sorry.)

So moral of the story for this post… MAKE BETTER DECISIONS!

Okay. Let’s pray and dismiss. “Heavenly Father, thank you for our time together…” No. Kidding. Don’t touch that remote. Because I think we know it’s not that easy, is it? We wish it was that easy. We wish we could all put our hands in and say, “BETTER DECISIONS on three. One, Two, Three!” But we can’t. Making good decisions is tough.

Sometimes the problem is a little more difficult than right or wrong, black or white. There’s gray.

Sometimes you’re left choosing the better of two evils because you know, whatever you decide, someone is going to get hurt.

For some us, it’s hard to make any decision because we feel this enormous pressure to consider the endless amount of information accessible today via the internet. So we read and read and read. Then read some more. And lean this way, but then lean that way. And we never really feel comfortable with what we decide. Or we never really feel like we’ve read quite enough.

Then if you’re Christian, it just gets worse, because you have to throw into the conversation this whole thing called sin-nature. Basically, as Christians, we believe all of us are a-lotta bit messed up. So all of us have this tendency to, more-often-than-not, make decisions based on the wrong motives. Like Selfish motives, dishonest motives, vengeful motives, hateful motives. Because we all want more money. We all like to win all the time. We all want to stand on the moral high ground. We all want power. Sex can make even the most intelligent person do irrational things.

Everyone desires to navigate life well, but desire doesn’t determine direction, decisions do. And making good decisions is tough.

But here’s the good news: Scripture has a word for the solution to all this. Wisdom.

Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman describes wisdom like this in a commentary on the Proverbs (And who wouldn’t want this?):

Wisdom is the skill of living. It is a practical knowledge that helps one know how to act and how to speak in different situations. Wisdom entails the ability to avoid problems, and the skill to handle them when they present themselves. Wisdom also includes the ability to interpret other people’s speech and writing in order to react correctly to what they are saying to us. Wisdom is not intelligence pure and simple. It does not necessarily exclude intelligence, but that is not the focus.

What I find most fascinating is the last couple sentences. Read them again. Longman warns not to make the mistake that so many do by assuming wisdom is IQ, raw intelligence. Wisdom includes IQ, but it isn’t simply IQ. (And you know this! We can probably all agree that some of the stupidest people we know are also the smartest… please no names in the comment section)

When you think of wisdom, think EQ not IQ. Biblical wisdom is much closer to the idea of emotional intelligence than intelligence quotient. Let me help you with the difference here:

People with a high IQ: wear glasses, have pocket protectors, own every season of Star Trek, and can speak Klingon… no kidding.

People with a high IQ: know a lot of facts; filter information quickly; solve difficult mathematical problems; reason and use logic better than others.

People with a high EQ have other abilities including: self-control, that is, the ability to control impulse and delay gratification; persistence in the face of frustration or defeat; self-motivation; the ability to think clearly amid pressure, temptation, and stress; empathy; hope.

DISCLAIMER: These two aren’t mutually exclusive. You can have both. But if I had to choose, I’d choose EQ over IQ. And that’s because the definition for EQ looks profoundly like the biblical definition of wisdom. It’s fascinating really.

Daniel Goleman, an author and psychologist, conducted a study in which he compared people with a high EQ to those with a high IQ. And he found that EQ, more than IQ, corresponds with life-success. EQ, not IQ, correlates with the ability to get and hold a good job, enjoy life, and sustain healthy relationships.

Again, that’s fascinating.

Wisdom might not make you rich, but it’ll make you stable, no matter what life throws at you.

Wisdom might not always bring happiness, but it always leaves contentment.

Wisdom might not give you fame, but it will give you lasting-relationships.

life 2

In short, if I had to define biblical wisdom in the most secular way possible, I’d define it like this: Wisdom is the ability to see the big picture.

A wise person is someone who doesn’t just react now, but instead is able to rise above all the emotion and feeling in the moment, get outside their own personal desires, and see the big picture. See that what I feel may not be what I should do. See that what feels right now, may not be right. A wise person knows that what you do today will affect who you are tomorrow. And what you did yesterday is affecting who you are today.

A wise person rises above the now, looks into their past, and makes informed decisions based on how they’ve screwed up before, or how they’re friends/family have blown it when they acted a certain way.

They rise above the moment, look into their future, and make proactive choices based on who they hope to be. Because every decision contributes to the future you.

Your present will become your past, and your past will inevitably effect where you land in the future. So make decisions now in recognition that all of life is connected. There are no isolated events. There are no compartmentalized relationships. Every decision contributes to where your land.

Decisions determine direction. So be wise. See the big picture.

HOW?” you might at ask. Well, at the end of the day, I believe “Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge.

Seeking wisdom is finding God. Having wisdom is knowing God. So if you want to see the big picture, get to know the One who painted it.

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4 thoughts on “Be Good at Life

  1. Pingback: expressions of a restless mind

  2. I was about to comment and mention Proverbs 9:10, but you beat me to it! Aside from knowing God our decisions and motives will almost all inevitably be selfish or sinful. At the very least they won’t be for him, and the ultimate result from that is hell. Our decisions now affect our eternities as well.

    Thanks for the post! Good thoughts and keep it up!

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