I've just started reading Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers.
I jumped into it based on a conversation I had with a ministry buddy of mine
last night. Gladwell's other writings, including The Tipping Point,
and Blink, are some of the most interesting reads around.Outliers is
about what makes exceptionally successful people successful.
He argues: "if we want to understand how some people
thrive, we should spend more time looking around them — at such things as their
family, their birthplace, or even their birth date. The story of success is
more complex — and a lot more interesting — than it initially appears."
One of his most intriguing observations is what he calls the
10,000 hour rule. In that chapter he asks a very simple question: is there
such a thing as innate talent? Are there some people out there who are just
naturally gifted and just float by effortlessly to the top of their chosen
field/hobby/sport/what-have-you? The obvious answer is, yes. However, Gladwell
says it isn't quite that simple.
He points out that the problem with this view (natural
talent) is that the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the
smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger role preparation
seems to play. Gladwell notes:
“The idea that excellence at performing a complex task
requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in
studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is
the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.10,000 hours."
This got me thinking about ministry. Is this possibly true
for ministers? If so, to what extent, and how is ministry different from other
"fields." There are some obvious answers. But, I have to admit, that
most of the really exceptional ministers I know have worked really hard at it.
They read a lot, they try…really hard…over years…, they prepare their
sermons with great care and sometimes agony…they try to keep growing.
Hmmmm….. what do you think?