Didn't you know? Expertise, knowledge, leadership, and wisdom can be accumulated by osmosis these days. Witness the subtle sarcasm of the Holiday Inn Express TV ads, where ordinary people who have stayed in a Holiday Inn Express can perform brain surgery or play concertos at Carnegie Hall. The implication of course is that people with the brain power to stay in a Holiday Inn Express are smart enough to do just about anything. Shoot, I've stayed in a Holiday Inn Express many times and am still just plain and ordinary in every way. Chop-sticks is about it for me on the piano, and well, brain surgery is brain surgery after all.
OK, it's just an advertising campaign thought up in the bull-pen of cracker-jack minds brainstorming the hotel bidness. But, what makes it so good is the way it mimics life. We get a good laugh out of it because it is so true. Today, people gain status by some strange biological morphing that transmits their knowledge and attainments in one sphere to equal or greater standing in another. It's the new osmosis, a little info being multiplied exponentially and beamed to other brain cells to establish authority in new venues. Success in one venue equals standing in another.
Like some Hollywood types for example. Granted, they receive big bucks for their movies, obscene payouts for living in la la land if you ask me. Voila! Suddenly, this movie star, who may not even have a high school education, is an expert in thermo-nuclear warfare, meteorology, or international relations. So, Susan Sarandon can speak with authority on our mistreatment of terrorists and state department policies re: Hugo Chavez. It's the osmosis thing, see. Because she makes big bucks and hits the red carpet once in a while she can speak with authority about global warming, the economic impact of NAFTA on immigration in California, or the unionization of Wal-Mart. Go figure.
This phenomena occurs in just about every arena of human interface. Shoot, Bill Maher, a pretty mediocre stand-up comedian, is now the go-to man about anything political. Hardy har har! That is funny stuff. Wayne Rogers, of MASH fame and other cinematic successes, is a Wall Street tycoon. Want to understand the tension in the Middle East? Talk to Sean Penn or George Clooney. They've made movies about Iraq and Afghanistan so they are now consultants to the State Department. Osmosis, kids. That's the new expert maker.
The king of power and reputation transfer may be Donald Trump. Shoot, kids, he sits on numerous corporate boards, judges beauty pageants, consults any number of companies, and stars on several TV programs, even appearing in advertisements endorsing a wide variety of products. He's a human dictionary, the fount of all encompassing knowledge about any subject on earth. He's made millions, lost a fortune in real estate, rebounds from financial disasters, and has opinions about everything. Well, maybe not. The hair industry isn't asking his advice. Doesn't cramp his style too much though.
This thing happens in our world too, you know, the world of spiritual stuff and the church. Pastors, of which I are one, are all-Americans in the know-it-all sport. Most pastors are well-read, just as often well-educated, sometimes well spoken, and most usually well-rounded. Because we tend to deal with many different kinds of people from a variety of disciplines, we can usually enter any discussion and are not afraid to go after just about any topic. To speak with authority is a natural motif. Of course, being trained to speak with authority from the Bible is not the same as speaking with authority about subjects outside of a particular area of study. I mean, just because I have a theological or ministry education and know my way around Scripture doesn't mean I can discuss Egyptology or quantum physics. My accounting degree doesn't qualify me to advise families about the electrical circuitry of their new home. Being the spiritual leader of a growing, impacting congregation doesn't give any of us entree into hospital administration or any of the other specialities of life. I mean, get a life, will you!
Personal growth is a matter of discipline, not osmosis. It is not automatic and does not leak through our pores from other people or pursuits. Being a disciple of Jesus is like that too, a process that defines our relationship to him, and not the medals and awards and degrees we may pick up along the way. You can be the coolest guy around and still not speak Swahili, the finest gourmand in the neighborhood and still not have a green thumb, be able to recite the entire book of 1 Chronicles and still not be much of Christ follower. You can have three Ph.D.s from MIT and still not grasp the sonnets of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, or have twenty-seven Sunday School medals and still not be a disciple of Jesus.
And, you can stay in a Holiday Inn Express and still not know what day it is.