Michael's Missives

Purring with Delight

I once spoke on the subject of happiness, or cheerfulness – not necessarily synonymous, but the Bible uses a conjunctive word which is ‘contented’ “. . . For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:” (Phil 4:11) – therefore, happy by implication and many wish that was their lot.

During that sermon I illustrated one of the aspects that contributed to the subject that had been researched by several scientists who had scoured relevant literature in an attempt to define it. One of the keys they gave was on intelligence. Their assumption was that intelligent people are happy people, because they get better jobs thus earning more money. Thus, they thought that richer people were generally happier than poorer people. However, their investigation disproved this, for whether rich or poor, people can be happy, and intelligence has nothing to do with it. However, they did find that ‘social intelligence’ was important; how people reacted to others within society.

To illustrate this I mentioned that several years ago I was a visiting lecturer in our denominational Bible College. Moving amongst that august band of men in that hothouse of theology, I was conscious of my lack. They knew Greek and Hebrew and at lunch when we shared tables, they spoke in theological terms that seemed to be a third unknown language. I had entered the full-time ministry from a background of lecturing students in building technology, in the disciplines of architecture, surveying, civil engineering and building. However, my new lifestyle and associated subject had been the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and because I moved in several of them, was counted suitable to teach the subject.

Several years after I had stopped servicing that college, I was invited to the church of one of the ex-students who I had inflicted with my lectures and over lunch he mentioned that I had been voted the best lecturer on the course by the students. Instinctively I diverted his praise with that modest nonchalance for which I’m noted, but inside I was purring with delight and pride. Forgive me Jesus!

As I was explaining this I noticed something in the congregation which side-tracked my attention, and I finished the point without clarifying what I had intended to say. It therefore seemed that I was simply boasting, and I may have been, but that was not the point or impression I was trying to make. I was about to develop the point that parents place too much emphasis on intelligence. They are delighted if their children have a high IQ, and even more elated if they get their “GCSE’s” or “A” levels. They think it’ll make their offspring happy, because they are happy, but it may not lead to contentment.

IQ testing was my worst stress point at school and I’d rather hide under the desk than take such a test – my future calling was clearly vocational! However, once baptised in the Holy Spirit at 18, things changed. It seemed not only was I born again in the spirit, I was mentally re-energized. I slowly climbed upwards taking on new intellectual challenges, and clearing several degree hurdles.

Now, many years after that lecturing experience, here was a mature student putting icing on the cake for me, but it was clear it wasn’t intelligence that carried the day, it was ‘social intelligence,’ the secret was knowing how to react to people. Most of the other lecturers, had been through college straight into the ministry, and found that their better calling was academia; ‘social intelligence’ need not have been their strong point.

No matter how high your IQ, Jesus makes the difference, He helps you relate because you have something dynamic to share. I believe that ‘social intelligence’ is the factor that could bring contentedness, rather than a bagful of degrees. Remember that it is with the heart that we believe, and it is usually the heart that disturbs our happiness!”

One of HICC’s strong points is their ability to interact with each other. An amazed visiting preacher once said to me – “you do have a happy church don’t you?” I nodded, again in modest deference to some mighty power beyond my comprehension, but thinking to myself – “it must be the jokes!” But it could be divine ‘social intelligence’ given as a gift – could it not?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *