I have been reflecting lately on how specialized our culture is today. Many people learn one skill and get very good at that skill so that they can make their living off of it. They specialize in their trade, taking classes and working at places that are specific to their talent. Through this we have the Yellow Pages full of specialists and we have mall that have stores that focus on one particular product or commodity.
Although this is nothing unusual to us today, this is very odd compared to the culture of 50 or 60 years ago. Half a century ago there were very few specialists in society. Of course you had your mechanics and your doctors, but most people did a little of everything. This was so because the average person had to be the jack-of-all-trades just to survive. You couldn’t afford to hire a landscaper, and there was no time or demand to go to school to be an accountant. So back then the average person did multiple jobs around the house or farm, and rarely could afford to hire others to do their own work. Nor were there a Yellow Pages or malls full of specialized stores. You had the Sears catalogue and your local general store that had just about everything you needed in one place.
Sadly though, few of these “handymen” still survive today. The occupation of the general practitioner all but died out. But there are a few that survive today that we often overlook. This has never been clearer to me than until just last week. I have the amazing opportunity to be able to travel around eastern North Carolina and speak at various churches and other functions. Over the last few weeks I have had the new and exciting opportunity to preach a Mother’s day service and also address a group of pastors from the Newton Grove area at a local pastor’s appreciation dinner. In preparing my messages for both topics, I realized that these two tasks-that of being a mother and a pastor-involve being a one of the last general practitioners today.
Mothers do and are so much for their children. They are their children’s teachers, friends, nurturers, chauffeurs, chefs, coaches, doctors, and counselors among many others. Pastors are the same way. They have to teach their congregation, use psychology to reach different age groups, be excellent writers and public speakers, plan events, and motivate people to do better and be better.
Although it is inspiring to see occupations like that of mothers and pastors who take on so many different roles, it is scary for us who do not have those various skills, including myself. I have spent thousand of dollars and thousands of hours learning my profession to teach religion. I may be able to translate Greek and Hebrew, but what happens if my roof starts to leak or I need to grow a garden. I am not sure I could do those simple things without someone else’s help.
I have realized lately that I may be very proficient in my own profession, but that is so minor compared to the breadth of knowledge it takes to survive in this world. This week I encourage you to branch out and try new things. Don’t just focus on what your good at, but focus on what you need to be good at.