to know that you know

There are two kinds of experts: (1) people who can’t help but be experts, and (2) people who want to be experts.

The first just have to learn. They can’t get enough. They are thirsty, and their thirst can’t be quenched. They’ll forgo, give up, push things aside to dig more deeply into their subject.

The second like to be noticed. They want to be the go-to guy on singleness,  on worship, on politics, on relationships, on prayer, on women, on . . .  whatever.

Maybe it’s just in the LCMS. Maybe it’s just human nature. Maybe it’s just wanting to be wanted.

But there’s a risk in wanting to be a part of the inner circle simply to be a part of it, of wanting to be in the clique, to be the authority, to want people to know that you know.

There’s danger in insecurity.

Because when people even begin to suggest that you are an authority, you start to think you are one. You start to think you’re the specialist. You start to think you know best, because it feels good to think that you might.

And if you’re in that first group, you really are the expert. You’re Kleinig, the prayer guy. You’re Petersen, the preaching guy. You’re Veith, the vocation guy.

But you never ever never never  get the impression that they set out to be the experts, that they needed to be needed, that being the masters of their subjects makes them feel good about themselves.

Instead, they give every indication that their subject is simply one of their great loves, that if nobody else ever knew they loved it, it wouldn’t matter. They’d still love to learn.

That’s the kind of expert I want to hang around, the one who knows it all but doesn’t realize it, who makes you the dumbest person in the room but never lets you realize it, who is brilliant simply for the joy of wanting to understand.

And that, I believe, is the kind of expert we need more of: the one who doesn’t care if he is really an expert or not.

One thought on “to know that you know

  1. The first reminds me of a couple lectures I heard from Dr. Schmitt at CSL (talk with him about this, it’d make a great LW article!)…The whole idea of ‘devotional life.’ Devotion is about more than reading scripture (though reading scripture is good, right, and salutary)…But Christian devotion can be devotion toward any article of the faith (e.g. Renee Gibbs and sanctity of life; Chuck Arand and stewardship of creation; Kleinig, prayer; etc. etc.) It was a really earth-shattering insight about how the word ‘devotion’ has been narrowly defined to ‘me and my Bible.’ In the good old days, it could encompass pilgrimages, almsgiving, acts of charity, fasting…Thanks for the insightful post.

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