Become an expert

Expertise is in short supply in the world. I wonder if those who minister full-time for Christ should be concerned with expertise?

Malcolm Gladwell established a well-known rule in his book “Outliers.” He said that a person needs 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert.

That’s a highly debated point, but I think we can agree it is partially correct, if we acknowledge that expertise goes far beyond time.

In case you’re wondering…if we spent three quality hours per day studying, practicing, and refining our skills. And we did it five days per week. It would take us about 13 years to become an expert, according to this theory.

But that’s three quality hours per day. Through every work week. All year.

Is that realistic?

By the way, Merriam-Webster says an expert is “one with the special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject.” But, what is mastery? It’s “possession or display of great skill or technique.”

Are we masters of a subject? What’s more, is it worth being the “master” of a subject in service for Christ?

Well, it doesn’t matter if we accept Gladwell’s theory or not, what seems clear is that expertise goes beyond “doing the job” or “having experience.” Or even doing a “good job,” with a “good attitude,” for a “good amount of time.”

It might rather mean thinking deeply, consistently, and in many of our off-hours.

It could mean that we read about what we do when we’re not required to read about what we do.

When we read, we should strongly agree and strongly disagree. Then, figure out “why” and change our minds if that “why” is not satisfactory.

We should have a philosophy for our ministry, but never rely on philosophy alone.

We should be informed on the data that supports our philosophy, but never rely on data alone.

We should want to know if our philosophy works, but never do anything just because it “works.”

If there is any mastery to be gained, we need to consider deeply – consistently testing what we consider deeply.

God can provide the knowledge and the skill we need. And He does.

I love what Moses said about Bezaleel during the construction of the tabernacle in Exodus 35.

“And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship;  And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work. And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.”

Exodus 35:30-35

The tasks we perform every day (particularly in ministry) require skilled hands, careful thought, and the right balance of efficiency and patience.

God has given us a position because we have gifts – gifts that should be cultivated more and more daily.

To whatever we have learned, we should add learning. To whatever we have done, we should add more doing.

Our goal may not be “expertise” – our goal should be to glorify Christ – but expertise does help in accomplishing the work God has set before us.

He is worthy of deep thought, study, practice, refinement, and quality execution.

He is worthy of expertise.