Getting smarter is killing us.

Getting smarter is killing us.

Getting smarter is killing us.

Other title options for this post were, “Smart people are fat, too.” Or “Smart people get divorced, too.” Or “Smart people commit suicide, too.” Or “Smart kids drop out, too.”

I remember very well the weekend my paradigm as an educator was rocked to the core; I was attending a Principal’s Conference in Washington D.C. I spent several days with a small group of very brilliant people wrestling with the neurology and theology of decision making and behavior.

Here’s a summary: We live out of our hearts, not our heads.

That can be expanded to: Getting smarter may not fix your problem. Or your children’s problem. Or your family’s problem. Or your job. Or your addiction. You get the point.

This can be devastating news to an educator. We live to help others get smarter.

These ideas rocked my world; I remember praying about this as I started my travels back home to Texas.

My conversation with God went something like this:

Me, while sitting in the Dulles Airport: “God, if this is true, You’re going to have to prove it to me – and help me understand.”

God: “Janet, look up.”

Looking up, my eyes caught the full panoramic view of the airport food court. It’s a big food court and there were no less than 50 people sitting at tables or looking for one.

More than 70% of these people were considerably overweight; I struggle with gaining weight, too.

I was prompted again. “Janet, keep looking.”

I did. Just behind the food court, I saw a giant newsstand – no less than 50-60 feet long. And more than 70% of the magazines were about diet, exercise, and healthy eating.

The conversation continued –
God: “Janet, if knowledge was enough, America would be the healthiest and fittest country in the world.”

Yeah, I know. It was a BGO for me, too. (Blinding glimpse of the obvious)

And it’s not just an issue with being overweight and out of shape. Self help books abound – about marriage, time management, learning problems, addictions… We have some of the largest seminaries and theological libraries in the world, too – and we all mourn when another church leader falls.

This, dear friends, is the truth of the original Good News. A new heart. A new nature. Our other heart is broken; our sinful nature can’t just be made smarter or be fixed. Good grades or behavior modification isn’t the protocol for a heart condition.

I knew there was a reason I’ve never found a single sticker chart or report card in the Gospels; Jesus never used one with His disciples. ¬†Instead, He built a relationship of trust and offered love.image

I cringe when I think about how many times I exclaimed this to my children, “Don’t you know better?!”

Yes, yes they did. But we live out of our hearts, not our heads.

This sobering reality is our hope – not our demise. Christian education – and the Church – is about learning to live the new life with our new heart; it’s not about trying to live the old life smarter. ¬†“Love one another” is the perfect plan – so much more hope than “get everything right.”

I continue to watch, in my work with children and families, as God sanctifies our neurological wiring everyday we trust the truth about our new hearts. (http://janetnewberry/testimonials/)

Our thoughts come from our heart; our thoughts are the architect of our brains. Let’s live together in the kind of communities where we help each other live this new life – instead of training harder to improve the old one.

I look forward the having a conversation with you about this one; please leave a comment.

  • Virginia Freeland

    This is interesting because I would have said we live out of our minds and we need to live out of our hearts. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.
    I want to live out of me heart more and not in my mind. That is my struggle, because I think God speaks to me heart.
    Matthew 7 talks about the wise man who heard Gods teaching and applied it to his life. Would the key not be in actually applying our knowledge to our lives?
    Sorry Janet, these are all questions I am pondering and your article made me wonder again.

    • Janet

      I’m so glad you engaged in this conversation Virginia -this topic is one of my favorite to struggle with and I love to know you’re struggling with me.
      My CHTL class with TrueFace revealed a big truth to me about salvation – that, so much more than a ticket to heaven, our true gift is a new nature – the nature of Christ in me, even on my worst day. This new nature, in me, can give me new thoughts that can point the way to a new life. This is very different than modifying my old life, or trying to make it work.
      Dr. Caroline Leaf’s work (neuroscientist/communication pathologist) teaches that our thoughts are the architect of our brains. What I think today will help create the brain structure I wake up with tomorrow. So the brain I have today needs to be sanctified – not because I am not already 100% righteous in my new nature, but because I am physically living with the brain that I have co-created all my life – and the lines of old habits run on those rails. “Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ” makes more sense to me now – because these thoughts are now our own, in our new self, and can restore our brains by building new structures based on these new life thoughts. I forget I have a new heart, because my old brain is still being sanctified. The reason community is so important is to remind us who we already are – and that we already have this new life in Christ – and trusting and living in this new life will create new pathways in our physical brain. Did I just further confuse these thoughts – or help?!

  • Wayne Herninko

    What wisdom,what truth, what hope. The local church so often comes from a traditional educational bent. They think fixing the head will change and grow people and get them to be involved. That will sometimes lead to compliance (“God says you should serve). But we, Christ-in-us, calls for obedience, obedience to a Father who invented trustworthy and is completely and utterly for us and NOT against us. Amen and amen, My friend!

    • Janet

      Unfortunately, “getting smarter” is very often the “American way”…and I so agree with you – it’s often the way of the American church. We have a problem – and go get a new book, or do a google-search, or sign up for a new workshop… As a child of God, we have another choice – run to the Father and let Him remind us who we are! Thank you Wayne.