It’s been said that, if you study anything for at least a hour a day, you will be an international expert on the subject in seven years. I know that this is a little cliche. After all, I’ve been studying Chinese for nine years, and I think most six-year-old Chinese children can probably speak it with less effort than I do and probably better understood. That’s not to say that I’m not on my way to being and expert on the subject, since I probably know 2000 more Chinese words than the average Chinese six-year-old, and I read it much better. It’s just that some things take longer to master than others.
The seven year thing, though, brings up a good point. When we all stand around the proverbial water cooler and spout our wealth of knowledge, what really makes any of us and expert at anything? It’s time and perseverance. The first day we start any job, even if coming out of some prestigious university cum lauda, the reality hits us in the face that we are babes in the woods. Most of us have to work as hard as we can to survive the first day, the first week, the first month, to start to feel like we have some idea of what’s going on. We strive and strive to get on top of the game, only to look up one day and see that five years have gone by (if we are lucky enough to have one job that long). And we realize that we still feel like babes in the woods, but that now at least we have some idea behind which tree to look to get what we need.
I have been writing my whole life. When you attend a Seminary, it’s pretty much a given that you will be expected to give at least one speech, known as a sermon, every week. And you are encouraged not to do these off-the-cuff, given that you are talking about issues with life-and-death importance. From Freshmen Composition in College to on-the-job internship in graduated school, you are writing, writing, writing. And, to do all that writing and keep if fresh, relevant and interesting, you are reading, reading, reading.
As someone who always enjoyed physical activity and bordered on ADHD, it used to be quite hard for me to sit and read, and harder still to sit and write. But, when you do something long enough, it not only becomes easier, it becomes something to which you look forward. Perseverance overcomes a lot of obstacles.
I often wish I could go back and tell that hyper young me that, in thirty years, you’re not really going to care a hang about being a good athlete or sportsman, that young women will no longer captivate you as before, and that you don’t have to be out spending every moment interacting with the world that doesn’t really know or love you. But, part of learning, a big part, is experience. Part of maturing is to persevere in overcoming yourself. So, having regrets about time passing is silly. Time passing helps make you what you are. Sure, you waste some time and fail a lot. But perseverance only comes from suffering through the mistakes of life. (Says that in the Bible, even.) And the perseverance produces character. You become an expert on life by living it.
When I was fresh out of the Seminary, I had all the theological answers I was ever going to need. Yet, there is a practical side to life upon which you only gain perspective as time passes. So, yes, I can quote chapter and verse. But I haven’t become proficient in recognizing how and when to properly wield my knowledge to fit the circumstance. I know that many times the grace of God had to do a lot of filling in for my meager counseling skills.
So, here I am, just celebrated a birthday and working on my 55th year of learning. Technology is always advancing, so it’s hard to even tread water in that field of expertise. As a blogger, I surely need a few more years to learn the ins and outs of increasing readership, promotion, marketing. But I’m not a newbie to the fields of political and economic philosophy. I’m not unfamiliar with the dark alleys and mean streets of the American condition. No, I’m not the international expert in all things political, yet. But I will be. Maybe today I am little-known and less respected. But I will become the international expert, and people will look to me for answers. Because I’m not going away. I have something that all successful people have, that separates the men from the boys, so to speak. I have perseverance.
Where will you be in five years? I know where I will be. Come back and see me some time.