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Gifts and Talents
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When he was in middle school one of my sons drove his teachers crazy. They could not figure out why someone as apparently smart as he was had penmanship worse than a third-grader. He was put through a battery of tests.

His problem was diagnosed as a physical disability. He lacked fine motor skills needed to make a curved line accurately. He wrote letters as a combination of straight lines.

It also revealed he was literally a genius. His IQ score was greater than 145.

After he learned he was a genius I cautioned him all that meant was that he was smarter than roughly 99 out of 100 people. Even in the small city in which we then lived (22,000) that meant there were 220 people smarter than him.

I also told him while being a genius was impressive; it was as impressive as bench-pressing 350 pounds. In both cases, the capability was a tool, different problems require different tools. Over-reliance on any one tool was a bad thing, because it forced you to view every problem as something that could be solved by that one tool when using other tools offered a simpler solution.

High intelligence is God’s gift. So are great strength, acute vision, and robust health. Yet these gifts must be exercised and used regularly if they are to be used to best advantage.


If you are good enough at something, there is a temptation to over-rely on that skill. Think of the star athlete in high school who concentrated on sports to the exclusion of everything else. Once past high school (or maybe college), athletic skill becomes much less important. The now-thirty-something star athlete becomes a has-been.

Another trap awaiting the gifted is laziness. When you are the smartest one in the class, you do not have to work hard for the best grade. If you are the fastest kid in the school you do not have to push yourself to win every race. Soon coasting becomes a habit. Once in the outside world you discover you are unprepared for the challenges you face.

I cautioned my son about that, too. I told him how, when I went to college, I watched smart kids from small schools crash and burn. They were smart enough to do the coursework. In many cases they were geniuses. They just never learned to apply themselves. They got discouraged or could not cope, when they actually had to work at learning.

He has since gone on to being a successful engineer, in large part because while he values his intelligence, he does not overvalue it, and realizes the limitations of intelligence. He pursued activities which challenged his body as well as his brain. He also learned to do his best, and exert himself at whatever he was doing.

Remember the Parable of the Talents? The talents God gives someone are less important than how they use the talents they are given. A wise parent will make sure his/her children understands this.

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By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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