“If you surround yourself with people who are dumber than you are, you’ll never go anywhere. Instead, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are and pay very close attention. Watch what they do. Learn. Then do what they do.”
My husband was having a conversation with me about the business world, the technological industry specifically. He’s a thinker, an innovator. In short, he gets shit done. I often marvel at the way his brain works (as well as my other innovative brainy friends) because my brain doesn’t operate on that same system. So when these thinkers start talking, I always lean in.
That got me thinking about the theological world.
I am admittedly lady laity. I don’t have formal theological training, and if I’m being honest here, I have no desire to pursue such a thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love to learn — It’s just on my own terms. Usually in comfy pants, snuggled under blankets with a book in hand- waiting for my brain to grasp the concepts. Over the past couple of years, I’ve done exactly what my husband suggests for the business world.
I’ve surrounded myself with people who are smarter than I am. I’m 100% comfortable not being the smartest person in the room. In fact, I’ve gotten accustomed to being the student in most scenarios. I’m not offended when I misstep or get it wrong, I always welcome constructive criticism. Frankly, getting it wrong is usually the best way that I learn.
I wrote a blog post yesterday and out of one very small sentence, I had made an error. It wasn’t a grave error, I didn’t somehow slip into serious heresy. I took the passage at face value simply because I haven’t studied the original language. I just made a misstep- one that even a very theological minded person was willing to overlook simply because the grander scope of what I was saying, made the error less problematic. Nonetheless, my very smart friend did a little bit of digging and sent a screenshot of the passage in the original language. Yes, very helpful. I sent back… “ummmmmm?” Thankfully, she was also willing to expound a bit so that I understood the strange squiggly marks.
In all seriousness, she wrestled with the passage until she found the best interpretation from the original language possible and landed in the middle of a gospel gold mine. It was actually an exciting find, and I was more than happy to concede. I honestly can’t think of anything more satisfying right now than sitting back and learning from my well theologically trained friends.
What’s beautiful about this whole story is that this friend, this theologian, became the example of a qualified leader that I spoke of in my previous post. While she has serious theological guns that blow many people out of the water, and as she blows my mind on a regular basis, she does it with humility. She is in touch with her own humanity, her own brokenness — her own proneness to make such errors — and therefore communicates big theological thought, even pointing out where I have misstepped, with grace. In fact, the other day we were discussing the Luther quote from my previous post and she said, “We are disciples first and foremost always. Always.” I don’t say this to put her on a pedestal — that would be a disservice to her, the gospel on which she stands, and well, she’d kill me. I say this because she made my previous point so clear that I can’t not say it. And also, I honestly need to give a hat tip to the fact that yes, she’s a woman!!! Of all the smart people that have agreed to hang out with me, and help me along the way in my theological thinking, I’m thankful to have this woman among the cast. Because this is the kind of leader that I want to watch. Learn. Then I want to do what she does.
Because Jesus always got it right, we are free to get it wrong. We are free to admit our failures in interpretation and communication with one another — on all horizontal fronts and the theological ones as well. We are free to come alongside others who aren’t grasping the greater picture and lovingly lead them back to the gospel — to the most important thing, the most life-giving thing, which is Christ himself.
I will go edit my other post now….. (Thanks, HLL. XOXO)
“The first mark of a theologian is a deep awareness that his pack of cards is not what gives him life.” – Robert Farrar Capon