The Smartest One in the Room

The person who thinks this about themselves treads upon a slippery narrow ledge that is crumbling beneath their feet. I knew a man who was surrounded by his chosen advisors. One advisor was extremely loyal, but to a fault, so that when he might have prevented wrong, he was unable to contradict his leader. One was very knowledgeable about the law, it’s meaning, application, precident, and nuance, but he was not experienced in the real world of facts upon which his vast legal prowess hindged. One was a master of the political environment in which this group functioned. He was able to articulate the benefits, hazards, and impact of any decision upon the group’s political standing, but he had virtually no sense of purpose or commitment to the organizations mission. One had a military background which enabled him to lead men, and rise among others to the position of advisor to the leader. He understood duty and knew how to both give and carry out directions within any organization, but he had little vision of what lay ahead, nor how the future might bear on today’s necessity. One was an empire builder who exercised a self focus that had enabled his rapid rise through the ranks. Though his perception and predictive skills were sharper than most, his ego was a snare that limited his thinking whenever the greater good was the best for all concerned.

In this group the leader was master in charge, not because of any one proficiency or a conglomeration of all, but because fate had placed him in the right position at the right time. Everyone suspected this and therefore concluded this leader was not the smartest one in the room. The leader did not believe in fate, and attributed the arrangement of his advancement to his own efforts and subtleties. He knew the capabilities of each staff member, as well as their faults and limitations. He was savvy, expected their aspirations of his position, and that each one secretly believed they were the smartest one in the room.

Though each person has one or more weaknesses or flaws, the greatest weakness was something that all these smart people never expected. In fact, they were so blind to this circumstance that they never gave any thought as how to protect themselves or their leader from its disastrous impact. With all their skill, learning, awareness, training and experience all it took to overcome the smartest one in the room, was for them to believe a lie and with that they were soon brought to an unhappy end. One may question how a lie is any different from a lack of knowledge or simply being wrong, but we can know the limits of our knowledge and additional reason can shed light on a wrong choice. There is no safeguard to believing a lie, other than the mercy and grace that God gives through humbly knowing the truth.

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