Pros and Amateurs

Seth Godin made an interesting post today concerning the ways professionals respond to amateurs entering their field.

A few years ago, typesetting, wedding photography, graphic design and other endeavors that were previously off limits to all but the most passionate amateurs started to become more common. The insecure careerists fought off the amateurs at the gate, insisting that it was both a degradation of their art as well as a waste of time for the amateurs. The professionals, though, those with real talent, used the technological shift to move up the food chain. It was easy to encourage amateurs to go ahead and explore and experiment… professionals bring more than just good tools to their work as professionals.

I thought it was an excellent point because I’ve heard a lot of this with photographers talking about lots of people who get dslr’s and then proclaim themselves professional photographers. I understand their complaint but I also think that a large part of that complaint is that often the reality is that their skill won’t stand out enough for people to be able to tell the difference between the quality of professional work and that of amateurs with good equipment. Godin calls them careerists, i.e. people who have the career but whose skills aren’t really good enough to be professional.

I bring this up because I think the same thing is true with many ministers. Often they become scared of the person who has put his/her nose into a little theology. Some ministers view these people as threats and worse call them trouble makers. Why? Well sometimes they might actually be trouble makers but that has nothing to do with them having a little theological knowledge. I think these people are often viewed as threats because the minister doesn’t actually have a good enough theological knowledge to deal with them. The minister’s fear is more about his/her lack of skill than it is the person he/she is dealing with. The answer? Probably for these ministers to bone up on the theology they studied back in seminary because some of them have unfortunately never touched it again.

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