If you know me on the surface, I can appear to be a deep person. I’ve read a little Kierkegaard, some Dostoevsky, Kafka and Nietzsche. I can still quote portions of the prologue to the Canterbury Tales in olde englishe. I first memorized it in high school in Alabama and quoted it with all the nuances of a Southern drawl. Ask me and I’ll perform it for you sometime. Just imagine Barney Fife giving his rendition and you’ll get the idea.
Anyway….I’ve brushed with some of the brilliant minds of the ages. But don’t ask me to get into deep discussions regarding their beliefs and philosophies. I can wade in, but don’t ask me to go too deep. I’ll drown and look foolish. Way down deep, I’m pretty shallow.
I confess, I have read broadly but too oft with little comprehension or retention. I’m useless to those who want to smoke pipes, sip brandy and discourse into the wee hours about deep matters.
That said, I’ve discovered that the fear of being discovered, keeps me cautious about self- disclosure in virtually all arenas. I guess it’s the thing of being quiet and thought a fool rather than speaking up and removing all doubt. A person of depth would tell you this is a quote from the biblical book of Proverbs. I don’t know what book, chapter and verse, but I’m pretty sure its there somewhere. A person of depth would give you the full citation. I’m shallow….look it up yourself.
My buddy, Don Truitt and I each serve as preachers, evangelists, pastors….whatever…. at medium size churches in the Midwest U.S. We have long noted that we are general practitioner ministers, not specialists. We have friends in ministry who are scholars. Many have developed specialties and are notable among their peers for their expertise in some specific area of ministry. They hold seminars and write books. They’re deep in some very important specific areas. That’s not to say they don’t diversify but they spend a lot of time in one specific field and just don’t have the time to have the broad experiences of us generalists.
But Don and I are just that, generalists. We can do a pretty fair job of teaching, counseling, organizing, motivating and mentoring. One day, we might be pouring over a Greek text and the next day we are pouring kool aid at a Vacation Bible School. Each of us can preach a pretty good sermon and we have areas where we’ve become more proficient than others. But for the most part, we are general practitioners….Handy Andys…..Jack of a few trades….master of a few.
Some of the finest people I know are shallow in deep places. They’re the kind you want to have around in case you get marooned on deserted island. Chances are, you’ll be safe with them because they know enough about survival stuff. They’re good with duct tape and bailing wire.
Don’t get me wrong about this. I have the utmost respect for the specialists of the world and those few among us who are the renaissance people, that is, those who seem to be knowledgeable and skilled in everything. And if I have a heart problem, I want a specialist and not a generalist. I want someone who, way down deep….is deep. I take great comfort that there is such a thing as a heart “specialist”.
If you are more like me, however, welcome to the club. We too, are people of value and we useful to our society. We may not be experts in the art of Rembrandt but we understand Sherwin Williams. We might not comprehend all of Freud but we have a Dr. Phil book that might be relevant to some who is hurting. We tend to be a little more of a people person. If we can’t help you, we know someone who knows someone who does.
Go out, get involved, be shallow or be deep, but be confident. The people in the shallow end of the pool need us.