If you’re a teacher, a pastor, or a professor – I have some questions. (Full disclosure: I’m a former teacher and still work in the education world.)
The very best of what you do, content-wise, is available online. The best sermons, the best lectures, the best examples for how to solve a problem. From the best in the world. And more accessible than ever before.
In other words, chances are: you have access to sharing the best in the world with the people you serve – so why are you standing up in front of everyone trying to do it all yourself?
Now – I don’t mean every time…
I understand the importance of an in-person and personalized message. And I’m not arguing for a digital education or an all-online church experience (God knows we haven’t done either well in the past two years.)
What I’m arguing is this: many of us are trying to be content creators, facilitators, question-answerers, therapists, counselors, and on-call support all at once! Rather than create all the content yourself, you could share a diverse arrangement of content from the best teachers in the world in your content area – what is keeping you from doing that?
Why preach every Sunday when you’re just saying the same thing you said last year – the same thing almost every other pastor is saying – and someone else has done it better and that version is accessible?
Why lecture on the fall of the Byzantine Empire when it’s been done better and that version is a couple clicks away?
In my gut, I think I know the general answer: because it’s my job.
But it’s not. Your job, in any of those three fields, is to facilitate learning and transformation using the resources and tools at your disposal. You’ve been brainwashed by your job description, your training, and the expectations of those you serve, many of whom have also been brainwashed, into thinking you are the best resource for everything.
There are some pastors who are great with spiritual formation and not great at preaching. Some professors are phenomenal lecturers and terrible teachers. Some teachers are great with the hands-on projects, but can’t teach a concept to save their life.
So, instead of thinking we have to do all the things, even when they aren’t our skillset, why don’t we diversify and use our resources?
Instead of spending hours during a week preparing their talk, pastors and professors could become facilitators and curators sharing messages from the best of the best. They could then lead their community in talking about it, working with it, sharing about it, engaging with it. Combining excellence with a personal touch – rather than spending hours preparing a sermon, they could be spending time transforming content from the greatest minds in the world into hands-on projects and relational connection. (The way transformation actually happens.)
Teachers could include the voices and examples of the best activists, community leaders, and other teachers to develop deeper projects with their kids. Why lecture for 15 minutes about the Mayflower again? Someone else has done it better – and their work is accessible! (Also, while you’re at it – find a diverse set of voices that give more perspectives and get your kids curious! It will take you a fraction of the time it would to create from scratch. Oh, and then you can use your time to create more engaging projects!)
The point is this – many of our industries have taught us, and our communities, that we are the be-all-end-all. Some of us even got into the industry because of this. But we’re not and we can’t be. We need to use our resources, lean into our true strengths, and level up – it’ll require us to set our egos aside, but I guarantee it can lead to better work and better conversations and better outcomes for our communities.
In an era when the best is available, the mediocre is unacceptable.