Why IQ Scores Are Not Enough

I-QWhether it’s the fake IQ of Sheldon Cooper or the true genius of Albert Einstein, we typically gravitate towards smart people. We sit in awe of their keen insights, wondering what special arrangement of genes made their success possible. We tend to assume that smart people are born smart.

But the reality is far more complex than an IQ scores. Men and women can have great IQ scores and yet never win a noble peace prize, never graduate first in their class, and never even get a stable job.

Take Physicist Robert Oppenheimer and college drop out Chris Langan. Both men were incredibly smart. Both men faced adversity and experienced very different results. 

Malcom Gladwell reports that Oppenheimer was brought before an academic counsel at Cambridge University when he poisoned his tutor. Oppenheimer received academic probation and was told to visit a psychiatrist. Several years later, the gifted Chris Langan was kicked out of Montana State University because he could not get a ride to his 8AM classes. The University would not let him switch classes.

What determined the men’s success in academia was not their IQ. Their success was driven by their families’ background. Langan grew up in a poor and dysfunctional home run by divorced and drug riddled parents. Oppenheimer grew up in a stable home with parents that valued education and ingenuity. Consequently, Oppenheimer learned how to read and interact with people while Langan did not. Their family backgrounds trumped their IQ.

Their stories are not anomalies. Studies repeatedly have shown that children without fathers are five times more likely to live in poverty, nine times more likely to drop out of school, and twenty times more likely to end up in jail than those with a father. When single moms remarry, their kids benefit greatly, gaining access to better social, financial and health care networks. The way we structure our homes and the decisions we make about our marriages will have a lasting influence over our children.

Exodus 20:5 agrees. The text says,

You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands[a] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

The parent who loves something more than God will teach their children to love sports, money, and academic awards more than Jesus. Such loves do not prepare people to thrive. They lead ultimately to judgement and despair regardless of one’s IQ.

To raise successful kids, Christians must actively live out their faith. They must do more than drop off their kids at church a couple of times a week. They must create a culture of faith in their homes and families. They must regularly follow and obey the Scriptures. (Deut. 6). They must regularly talk about the Bible and their faith with the children, detailing how the Bible drives their choices. When Christians expose their children to the commands of Christ, parents expose children to the grace they need to succeed in life. Having a home structured around the gospel is the greatest gift we can give our children.

Admittedly, Christians homes cannot guarantee a child’s salvation. But they can point children to the truth. They can equip children with the life skills and the theological framework needed to navigate life. They can bless children with advantages not found in secular homes. Children need these skills to succeed.

Intelligence alone does not guarantee success. Intelligence matched with a godly home can produce great results. Are you ready to parent in such a way that your family revolves around the Bible?

Getting Back Up After Sin

stairs-blogSin stinks. And I think that the stench is even worse when we sin against our kids. Every time I sin against my toddler son or baby girl, I feel the weight of it twice over. So how do we find relief? What do we do when we mess up and dishonor God with our thoughts, words, and actions? We take a look at a very familiar Bible story found in Luke 1.

The Setting

In Luke chapter 1, we meet Zachariah and Elizabeth. They are both describes as being, “righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (Luke 1:6).  But as with all good stories, Zacharias and Elizabeth face a large crisis. They have no children. And though many Americans view children as an imposition to their rightful exaltation of their selfish desires, the ancient Jews viewed kids as a blessing. They understood the Word of God. You were to want children. Because Zachariah and Elizabeth had no children, their lives were undoubtedly a conundrum to themselves and to those around them (Luke 1:25). They all had to be asking, “why would someone so godly not have kids?”

The Sin 

The answer, God even greater plans for them. Plans they could not even imagine. So God sent an angel to tell Zachariah that he was going to send the couple a son. And not just any son, he was going to send them a child with the spirit of Elijah who would turn many to the Lord (Luke 1:16-17).  And now we get to good part of the story. Zachariah says no. He tells an angel that he is too old to have a baby. He tells a supernatural being with a supernatural message that the supernatural cannot happen. He blows it; he sins. After a lifetime of following God, he doubts God’s goodness. He sins and becomes mute.

When we sin, we follow Zachariah’s pattern. We stop believing the promises of God. Sure we aren’t contradicting the word of an angel. Talk about an insane moment. But we can still relate.

If the truth be told, we are doing something far worse. We are doubting the love and wisdom of our risen savior. We are ignoring a lifetime with the savior, and once again trust in our flesh. And when we snap at our kid for interrupting our football game, for not doing the dishes, and for lying about her homework, we fail to trust God. We assume that God cannot work. We assume that happiness comes from us getting what when we want it. When it doesn’t  happen, we doubt God’s goodness and power. We sin. And as Zachariah, we suffer the consequences of our sin. We experience broken relationships. Momentary lapses come with real loss.

The Solution

So how do we get back on our feet? How do we recover? We do what Zachariah did. We start trusting in the Lord. We repent and remember that God is good. We remember that our obedience to God is not driven by others. It is driven by our love for God who first loved us. The solution for doubt is trust. And as we begin to renew our trust in God, obedience and joy will follow. When it came time to name John, Zachariah obeyed God. He named John, John even though all his friends wanted John to be Z. Jr. Zachariah obeyed (Luke 1:63).

The solution for all of us who have doubted God and made a mess of things is to trust and obey. Even if we have sinned against our kids who are too little to speak, we can find restoration through Christ if we will repent.

Have you sinned recently against your family? Repent, set your mind on Christ, and begin obeying!

Are you ready for joy to return to your home?

Should We Excommunicate The Kids?

excommunicate blogChurch discipline is making a comeback. And it should be! For a church to be a church it must affirm the purity of the gospel and the purity of the the God’s people. God is holy. All those who truly love him, will seek to purify themselves. And when a man or woman continues in sin and refuses to repent after being approach by two or three witness, the sinner should be brought before the church. Hopefully at some point during the discipline process, the man or women will repent. But If no repentance ensues, the sinner must be kicked out of the church and treated as an unbeliever. Such are the commands found in Mathew 18: 15-17.

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

But should we make our kids walk through church discipline? In the Old Testament, parents could take their unrepentant and disrespectful kids to the elders and have them stoned. Can we and should we take our kids before the church and have them excommunicated? The easy answer is, it depends.

Um…No

In some cases, the answer is a flat out no. If the child is not a member of the church, then we do not discipline them. All children come into the world with a sin nature. All kids are sinners and all act like sinners. If they have not repented and accepted Jesus, we cannot expect them to respond to God’s divine means of repentance and restoration. Expecting church discipline to bring an unbeliever to repentance would be like expecting a soccer team to thrive in the NFL. It’s not going to go well. They play by different rules.

For this reason and others, some churches are very slow to admit children into membership. Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C. will only baptize people who are 18 or older. And while I do not think we have to make 18 a special benchmark age, our churches should be slow and methodical when considering children for baptism and church membership.  If a kid is not a believer and not a member of a church, they are not subject to church discipline. Yes, we should pray with them and for them. We should counsel them with the word (evangelize them). But we should not discipline them in front of the church.

Why…Yes

In other cases, the answer is a resounding yes! If a child or a youth has made a credible profession of faith, has been baptized, and has been admitted into the church as a member, then he can be disciplined. If the child refuses to repent of lying, slander, sexual immorality, or any other sin, then their parents should practice church discipline. Their parents should involve the church, bringing a trusted friend or pastor into the situation. Lord willing, the child will respond well and repent. But if he does not, the child should be taken before the church. And if that still does not drive the child to his knees, he should be excommunicated.

Final Thoughts

In short, we should not hastily kick our kids out of the church. But if we are going to have biblical, healthy churches, we must be willing to excommunicate those who refuse to repent even our kids and teenagers. As 1 Corinthians 5:11 says,

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

Because church discipline is such a monumental and necessary thing and because following Christ is no easy accomplishment, we must not hastily rush kids down the aisle, baptize them, and admit them into membership. We must make sure our kids understand what they are doing. The church is no country club. And if we do enroll a child, we must be willing to discipline him. Are you ready to excommunicate the kids?