Sometimes I dream about writing a book. I already have a title in mind: “So You Want to Be the Smartest Person in the Room.” It’s essentially a book to my younger self. I don’t have enough material yet to fill a book, and even if I did, I’m not confident it would sell. But I do have some thoughts that roll around in my mind. Here’s a few:

If you want be the smartest person in the room…
1) Commit to being smart rather than being seen as smart.
Trying to be *seen* as the smartest will actually prevent you from *being* the smartest. It stops you from doing the next three important things.

2) Commit to relentless curiosity.
You don’t know what you don’t know. Assume that others can teach you something. They might offer you a new information or new perspective. You might learn from a cautionary tale. View every interaction as an opportunity to gain knowledge and wisdom you don’t have.

3) Commit to ruthless humility.
We all not-so-secretly believe that *we’re* the normal one. We get it honestly: during our most vulnerable and formative years, we experience the world around us entirely through our own senses. We have no framework to compare our conclusions about the world to those that others have.
But it’s easy to carry that unquestioned embrace of our perceptions deeper into life. We are wise to consider from time to time that we might be mistaken about a few things. Never pass up a chance to say, “I might be wrong about this, but…”

4) Commit to resolute kindness.
Resolve to be kind, even when the other person is unkind, or impatient, or just plain mean-spirited. Always take the high road. Curiosity and humility are so much easier to bring to our interactions when we do so on a foundation of kindness. In addition, our kindness frees others to share their best and most honest self with us. 

(As an aside, I absolutely adore alliteration… thus three “R’s” in a row. When’s the last time you heard the word, “resolute”?!? I had to dig for that one.)

Maybe I’ll write my book someday. But even if I don’t, I think these ideas are worthy of consideration if you want to be the smartest person in the room. I also think they are helpful in building relationships of every kind: marriage, friendships, family, churches… any and every community of the life-changing kind.

This brings me back to question #3 in our current “Marks of Discipleship” series: “Am I invested in life-changing community?” Being in authentic community is rarely easy, and it can sometimes be disappointing. But it’s worth the work.

If we bring curiosity, humility, and kindness to every community that we belong to, the life we change just might be our own.

Before you go – we are working hard to build a solid Early Response Team to serve in times of disaster. UMCOR generally requires volunteers to be trained and badged to enter a zone. Local authorities often will as well. If you’d like to join the effort, sign up for ERT Training on May 13 from 8:30AM-4:00PM.