Gifted, Talented . . . and Christian: Lessons Learned

Updated!

If you are the parent of a child who has been identified as gifted, learn what that means, learn the potential of your child and be an advocate for your child to receive what he or she needs to develop that potential.

Under the current laws of the State of Ohio, I would have qualified for gifted education. Unfortunately, the current laws did not come into effect until 1999, and my education in the public schools took place in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Since then, I have identified some ways which I believe I could have received more from my years of education:

  • Proper identification and assessment.

  • Parental orientation to giftedness.

  • Coaching in study skills.

  • Curriculum acceleration and enrichment.

  • Mentoring by an older GT.

  • Vocational coaching and assessment.

These are all proven strategies for the education and development of a gifted child, and they can be crucial to the understanding and development of that rare potential. For more information, see the Hoagies Gifted website.


Learn your own potential and define your own purpose.

Someone may at times throw this guilt trip at you: "You’re not living up to your potential." This phrase came back to me as I remembered it as a taunt from someone from some time ago. Then it was pretty much that I did follow the career path that that person tried to push me into through ‘fraud and undue influence.’ Here are some thoughts on this.

Sometimes this phrase may come from a coworker or a manager. If so, this kind of statement could well be pretty much out of bounds if it did not deal with the current job performance. I think that if anyone does hear this kind of thing from a manager or anyone else, for that matter is to ask immediately for a clarification. What is the potential that he or she sees you as not reaching? If it is a manager, you could go on to ask how it relates to a documented performance evaluation, performance improvement plan and job description, if any. If the comment dealt with a possible improvement in job performance, this would be a way to get that out in the open — but I can see a communication problem with any manager that would state a possible job performance improvement in those terms.

If it is dealing with your personal life or personal career goals, then you have another problem with that other person, whether a manager or not. The best thing would simply to say something like you’ve made your personal choices and set your personal goals. A good manager is someone who will help you to reach your personal career goals through your current job, not try to sidetrack or sabotage your personal career choices, nor try to interfere in your personal life. If you’re working with a manager or supervisor that does not respect your choices and boundaries in these areas, it might be a good idea to cast your eyes elsewhere. If it is someone else, then the question must be as to how that person has either the insight, the authority or the right to speak to what is the purpose or potential for the life of another adult.


Learn to be assertive yet collaborative.

Learn how to present your ideas logically and how to make the case for your ideas, needs and desires reasonably and persuasively without denigrating someone who disagrees with you. It’ll mean being humble enough to correct the flaws that others may find without crying bloody murder or counterattacking.

Because of their heightened sensitivity, GTs may sometimes lack the assertiveness to pursue their own best interests against the domineering interference of others. In these cases persuasion may not be effective. Leaving or ignoring in these situations may be better than trying to set the other person straight, though.


Learn to be persuasive.

Develop your communication abilities to share your ideas and make the case for your ideas:

  • Learn to write clearly and logically.
  • Learn to speak clearly and persuasively in private and in public.
  • Learn to deal with disagreement from others gracefully and respectfully.

Develop your spiritual life within a loving evangelical church.

Keep your spiritual life in order, and let your light shine in Christlike service and humility. Practice the basic disciplines of personal Bible reading and study, private prayer and worship, and attendance and involvement in a loving and accepting evangelical church.


A gifted person can develop ‘social skills.’

Here are some ideas to beat the ‘no social skills’ stigma:

  • Be well groomed and dressed as you can reasonably afford. You don’t have to be the epitome of fashion and beauty, but well groomed and well dressed beats slovenliness any day.

  • Take care of yourself physically. Aim for health, and usually you’ll find that the body responds with some kind of beauty as well.

  • Use your sense of humor wisely, to lighten the mood of others and to defuse tension, and not to denigrate others.

  • Participate in sports and games wholeheartedly, even if you’re not that good. Most other people won’t be that good either. Not everyone is a star athlete.

  • Be polite. Not only does it win others to our side, but it highlights the rudeness of our critics.

  • Take the initiative socially and be a little unpredictable. The critics count on us being predictable, passive and withdrawing when challenged. It unnerves them to no end when we keep one step ahead of them.


Make room for your own creativity, and value the creative intrusions of your intuitive and artistic side into your life.

Ideas and powerful intuitive perceptions will come to you in many ways throughout your life. Learn to preserve, value and develop them. A notebook or journal can be most valuable over the years.


Learn the value of your own perceptions and perspective.

Realize that you have as much right to your point of view as anyone else in this world. Your point of view is a very valuable perspective. Being able to see connections, similarities and relationships and be sensitive to injustices that others do not see can be extremely valuable. Certainly there will be times that other will not understand because they cannot perceive what you are perceiving. But this does not invalidate your point of view by itself. If what you are perceiving is valid, most reasonable people will come to understand in time. Sometimes we need to develop social patience until things become clear to the others around us. Over time, you will develop more credibility the more times that others come to realize that you are often perceiving aspects of reality that they are not perceiving so quickly.


Learn to corroborate your perceptions.

Check your perceptions with another gt-adult or someone who is honest and who will give your point of view fair consideration. Collaboration with another will often help you to know how to make your case for, modify or add nuance to your point of view.


Learn how to work behind the scenes.

Find ways to work quietly in light of what you are seeing. Actions may back up your words, and there may be ways you can quietly address a problem or start a solution into motion ourselves. We don’t have to call a four alarm fire for a burning trash barrel.


Learn your value to many who may not share your gifts.

Many nonGTs, even if they recognize that you’re GT, will be willing to work with you, and sometimes even jump at the opportunity, if they know that you respect them as people and will listen to them as well. Many times we are the smartest people in the room but we don’t want to come across as if we’re out to prove it all the time. If we can treat others with respect, both GT and nonGT, I think that we will find better treatment from those who can be valuable friends and allies whether they are GT or not.


Remember that you have a Lord and Savior that knows what it means to endure humiliation, ridicule and abuse.

See my earlier posts on Jesus, his experience of abuse and the help he gives.


Learn to Handle Your Overexcitabilities

Much of the material that I’ve seen on OEs (OverExcitablities) has dealt with children.I’ve found, once I recognized that I had them, that I had developed a number of ways to cope with them over the years, particularly as a adult. Here’s what I’ve found:

  1. Start any new activity gently and gradually, and be consciously/cognitively/emotionally aware of how you are responding to the new activity. Plunging into something can easily cause sensory overload sometimes. I think that this is necessary especially if the new activity means developing fine motor skills, such as learning a new musical instrument, or a new form of physical exercise that is intended to develop strength, flexibility or endurance.

  2. Use something neutral to block out distractions, especially where concentration is necessary. I try to use classical music (instrumental, orchestral, and opera in a language with which I’m not familiar), not just because of the beauty, but because the lack of words doesn’t mean that I need to do any processing of verbal input.

This might be of interest to those of us with some degree of OEs or high sensitivity in some way, or any parents of children with these kinds of characteristics:

Asynchronous Development/SensoryIntegration

The sensitivity to touch was a marker for myself on the relevance of this article. The article is geared toward parents, but there’s also much that is relevant to adults.

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