The Author

Genius

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. Albert Einstein, a widely-recognized genius, said these words, and they have refused to let me go.

I suppose that he could have simply been expressing some humility, wanting to deflect some of the adulation that was coming his way because of his achievements and insight. He could have been trying to encourage someone who was struggling in his attempts to succeed in some endeavor. Whatever he was trying to say,
I heard him saying that we are each uniquely gifted to accomplish the tasks that God has given us.

Some might argue that this strains the definition of genius. The prevailing sense is that it is someone who seems to do all things well, that the answers to problems come quickly, that she see things that the rest of us common folk don’t. I once had a professor who was a genius. I know because he told me that he was, and who am I to argue? I also know that I wouldn’t call him to fix my plumbing or a broken light. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a genius. It simply means that he really didn’t do all things well.

As I have thought about all this, I have begun to look at others differently. Rather than become frustrated by what they can’t do, I have begun to ask, “What are they geniuses at? What has God equipped them to do?” I’ve even begun to be a little easier on myself. Rather than dwelling on perceived imperfections, I have begun to ask, “So, what is it that God has equipped me to do?”

Someone might say, “But isn’t this what the Bible says about spiritual gifts and each one being uniquely equipped to bless God’s church? Didn’t you know this already?” Yes, I’ve read the text. I know what it says. But I also know that we spend more time talking about what someone can’t do than what they can do. In other words, we’ve criticized fish for not being able to climb a tree.

All this reminds me of something that we all would do well to remember. Speaking for himself and us as well, the psalmist (Psalm 139:14) says that we “are fearfully and wonderfully made.” To paraphrase, we’re all geniuses. In other words, we may not be able to climb a tree, but boy, you ought to see us swim.