My Seven Areas of Expertise


A humorous exchange in a politics dialogue group.

The group [not the admin, not a human being] just offered to make me an “expert.” Badge and everything. I thought for a few moments and then accepted. But THEN it wanted ME to fill in the categories in which I’m an expert. Wait a minute–YOU said I was an expert, not me. I tried “sarcasm.” No category found.”Heckling.” No category found. My final attempt was going to be “Jesus stuff,” but even “Jesus” wasn’t found. (See how I was going to integrate the other categories?) So, no. Not an expert. Oh, well.

Yes, yours truly was declared “the expert.” If you know me at all, you know I’m going to run with that. Because I do have some expertise, and such a vague, impressive-sounding-yet-meaningless medal for my chest will always get those wheels spinning fast enought to burn rubber.*

Here are the areas in which I believe I am an expert:

1. Self-deprecation

No one, and I mean no one, thinks about my faults and shortcomings as much as I do. Trust me, it isn’t even close, unless you’ve secretly made this your full-time job. Even then, you’d better be pulling some overtime to keep up.

Here’s how I’ve grown in this area of expertise: I express these things more light-heartedly, and offer myself much more grace in doing so. It used to be funny (I hope) but was actually pretty vicious self-attack. Now I’m mostly laughing at myself and remembering how much grace I, a ridiculously flawed human being, receive on the daily and isn’t that cool?

Here’s the truth: I think more people should practice being self-deprecating. Though not infallible, it’s an effective antidote for being argumentative, arrogant, and belligerent. Stop taking yourselves so damned seriously! You’re not all that. Just a thought. I am, after all, the expert.

2. Punctuality.

Obviously, a FB group wouldn’t know to give me this (though the way they spy, is it out of the question?). But I moved to a culture in which timeliness was far less valued than in the U.S. and my dear friend, Pastor Bismarck, declared me “Más Nica que Nicas!”

I rest my case.

3. Ultimate Player (for my age)

Before you laugh at this one, consider: I am far closer to being the best 53-year-old ultimate player than I was to being the best 33-year-old ultimate player. I have a goal and I will, God-willing, be closer to it twenty years hence.

Also, I once threw a disc through a tire from about 50 yards away.** On only my third try. So there’s that.

4. Loving Kim

I’ve devoted coming on 35 years of my life to this, from the literal first moment, when seeing her twitterpated me.

However, we must acknowledge that doing something for many years does not, per se, make one an expert. I’m certain you could cite some examples. I have perfected ways in which to drive her crazy, but that is a different type of expertise and I hope (and believe) I’ve cut way down on these, if not eschewed them altogether. (See #2, above.)

But my claim to being an expert lies in 1)being the world champion at knowing Kim Trivia, and 2)affirming her and making her laugh and smile. In all humility, I think it’s too late for anyone else to catch up now. And I’m not resting on my laurels with these, either.

5. Rejoinders

Of course, I think I’m hilarious. My kids do not (or claim they do not; I suspect they’re in denial). But I’m not funny at joke-telling, impressions, stand-up, or slapstick. I believe–and you will not convince me otherwise, in case you’ve considered trying–that I excel at the witty retort, the absurd and humorous non-sequitur, and the smart-ass reply.

Am I proud of this? Wouldn’t you be?

Being serious for a second now. There’ll be a quiz later on which ones were meant sincerely and which were sarcasm.

6. Transparency and Vulnerability

“Expert” may be the wrong word for these, but I’ve committed to practicing them. “Self-deprecating” is not the same thing; you can make fun of yourself without having revealed anything true to anyone.

My friend Trish calls it “Reckless vulnerability.” It kind of is, in the sense that I’m not good at counting the cost of it.

I wonder sometimes about having committed to this track. I have moments of wondering why in the hell I’ve let people know how I struggle. Sometimes they use it against you. See, being vulnerable leaves you vulnerable. You can quote me on that.

But here it is: yes, I know I’m not getting ahead, but it’s not a race.

May be an image of text that says 'We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are justpassing through Our purpose here is to observe, to learn to grow, to love... and then we return home. Padebbek Flk -Aboriginal Proverb Facebook/Compassion, Love Respect'

I know that some people think less of me for having told truths about myself which make them uncomfortable. I won’t pretend that always rests easy with me. My insecurities still sound off sometimes. But not as loud as they once did, so we’re going in the right direction.

I don’t want people to feel alone. I know I can’t fix that for everyone.

People wonder “Can I really be a Jesus follower if I’m this screwed up/struggle to forgive/cuss this much/doubt everything we’re supposed to believe?”

Depression, discouragement, and self-doubt always tell you, “You’re the only one like this, no one else is as bad as you, and you’re stranded on this island forever. There’s no hope for you here. No help is coming. Give up now.”

How am I supposed to love those people?

Being honest about how I am is a small cost to help someone who wants to die want to die less. And I know it’s happened. So if I’m not an expert, I aspire to be.

7. Parenting

Ha! Don’t I wish! Just testing to see if you’re still paying attention. Consider this one a freebie for the quiz at the end.

8. And finally…

My mind skips through all the other Expert claims I might stake: Listening, 1978 Topps baseball card collecting, Preaching, Creating and Arranging Clutter, Coaching, Compiling To-Read Lists (versus Reading). Writing. Any of that Jesus stuff. Oh, and getting lost. I’m so good at that!

But I know real experts in all of these, and thus I know where I don’t rank. Enthusiast? Sure. Motivated amateur? Definitely. But no expert. I’m convinced I could be an expert at both sarcasm and holding grudges if I weren’t actively seeking to follow Jesus, but instead gave my heart over to becoming elite in these areas. Don’t worry, I have no regrets on that count.

So I will slip back into being serious for one more moment and grant myself a final nod, in an area I referenced earlier. I believe I am an expert encourager. I know this because of the fruit it has borne and I would have no fear asking others to validate this claim. As with vulnerability, I’m investing my life here because I’ve come to believe this is how I can do good in a healing, making whole, Kingdom of God sense. I’m grateful that I can.

I hope you understand that I’m not using a technical definition of “expert” anywhere in this post. Again, the original motivation to compile this came because I’m far from an expert on anything in the realm of politics and it cracked me up that some FB algorithm decided I’d asked enough questions and made enough snarky comments to elevate me to this rank. It’s also a metaphor for our current range of self-proclaimed experts. To be exceedingly clear, THAT’S NOT HOW YOU BECOME AN EXPERT.

Your turn. What are your areas of expertise?

PS Just kidding about the quiz.

*Correct: Metaphor mixing should make the list!

**We didn’t measure; it was “midfield.” I did have witnesses. I hope some of them are still alive and willing to testify. For those who care, it was a forehand.

4 thoughts on “My Seven Areas of Expertise

  1. Doug DeJong

    I appreciate you including number 4. While marriage may be the prime example, there are those unique relationships and friendships in our lives where we alone are able to be the very best. That is our calling and an important part of our purpose.

    • Thanks, Doug. I fully agree. It struck me, as I was thinking through number four, that we may forget what a big deal it is to be the best in the world at loving one person. Perhaps someone else “could have” done a better job, but that’s merely hypothetical. We have committed to this love. “Calling” is exactly the word for how we have invested our lives in love.

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