Street Smarts

Quite a few years ago I was really into Donald Trump’s reality show The Apprentice on NBC.  A few seasons into the series the competition was between 2 teams…Book Smarts Vs. Street Smarts.  My inner desire that those who successfully bucked the system would win.  Unfortunately the team I was rooting for lost and someone who was “book smart” won.  Growing up I always had the expectation for myself that I would graduate from college with at minimum a 4-year degree.  After all…we’re brain washed into believing that to be considered anything of worth to this world a bachelor degree is the minimum requirement.  I graduated from high school 2nd in my class (which I still maintain had absolutely nothing to do with intelligence but everything to do with making the decision to succeed) and I was eagerly waiting to tackle college.  My first year went flawlessly and then opportunity knocked and I…ironically the pretty little legalist “follow the rules” Jen…answered!?

When I was 18 years old I made the decision to pursue and very quickly obtained a Real Estate Salespersons license right at the end of my first year of college.  Weeks later in mid-June I was offered a position with a very successful and well-respected Real Estate Broker and office branch manager as his Licensed Assistant.  At that point I simply and completely fell in love with my job hook, line and sinker and only pursued college another semester.  I had already obtained the “piece of paper” I needed to get my foot in the door and the experience I was gaining from working for such a knowledgable professional was far greater than any bachelor degree in Business Administration…and the pay wasn’t too shabby either.  The mere fact that my boss took off to Australia for 2 1/2 weeks (and completely un-reachable by the way) only days after I was hired and handed me the keys to his multi-million dollar business to sit in the driver’s seat was at least a semester worth of book smarts with the situations I was dealing with…at 18 years old!  Who needs college!?  Can you see why I got bored with the classroom…not to mention listening to (and admittedly sometimes arguing with) business professors who really needed to take a refresher course in Real Estate Law!

It is safe to say I have street smarts.  I’m a great student and I love school…I’m a total geek…but the experience I gained from the wise and gifted professionals I’ve been blessed to work with over the years is far greater than any piece of paper saying I met all the requirements to graduate from a bureaucratic program.  Hands-on learning the hard way…getting myself in and out of tough (even seemingly impossible) situations…negotiating for home and business owners in real life with their largest investments at stake…as I look back I am so thankful for that experience and the trust others had in me to completely take the wheel.  Wow…what a ride!  While many professions obviously require higher learning…we need our doctors to graduate from med school and lawyers from law school…in my profession experience is where you really learn what you need to know because while the books are important and certainly a requirement…they are merely a starting point.

There is one area I do wonder if  I could pursue higher learning…and that is Theology…or the study of God.  I never in my life desired that until now.  I don’t want to be a pastor…I want to know more about God!  I am so drawn to the Word and drawn to the Lord Himself that I just want to keep learning and growing.  But…do I need to pursue higher learning or just keep pursuing God?  Are the street smarts He’s given me worth anything…are they enough?  The wisdom He’s given me through suffering…the way I can hear Him when everything else is trying to drown Him out…the way He so incredibly shows Himself to me daily.  I still feel so ignorant and I’ve been studying the Bible my entire life! 

I know that we are all on a spiritual journey and that we never “get there” until we actually “get there”…heaven that is.  I looked at Nathan the other night and asked in bewilderment…”Why did it take me 30 years to get to this point?”…to really desire God…to WANT to know more…to thirst for His presence and His guidance.  It really makes me feel…well…dumb!  The more I learn the more I realize…I don’t know anything!  He made the point that Jesus didn’t start His ministry on earth until He was 30…that made me feel a little better.  It’s like I understood everything logically in my head…but only in recent months has God gotten through to my heart.  I have to think that is worth something.  Is it?  That can’t be learned in a classroom.  God had to bring me to this point of desiring Him not just daily…but minute-by-minute through abiding in Him…and the blessings?  A-MA-ZING!  I know I say this all the time but why He would even care blows my mind!?

The perfectionist in me wants to be better…to know more…and keep pursuing not to say I have a degree…not to say I’m successful…not to prove anything to any human being with prestige….I mean really, who cares…but to know God more.  Does that take classes or does it take experiences?  Or does it simply take…God Himself!  I really don’t know if the street smarts…not that I have obtained or earned…but that God has so graciously given me as a layperson with just a little bit of knowledge of the Bible on this road will accomplish His will or not.  God will show me if I need to take it to the next level I suppose.  I know He has a purpose for me and He will reveal it.  To say it truthfully…I want to go deeper and I feel in over my head already…if that makes any sense.  It’s just one more thing to give to God and trust Him to show me the way.  But I still stand behind that what HE shows is far greater than any text book…and professor…or any program that exists anywhere in this world.  God’s street smarts win…hands down!

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.   Philippians 1:6