What Qualifies a Person as “Expert” on a Subject?

As Christians, we have all been exposed to certain Christians who have gained notoriety in their ministry. It becomes clear that God has produced a special measure of spiritual growth and wisdom in them while increasing their level of influence among Christians around the world. As a result, we rightly consider what they have to say because we believe that God has and is using them to guide believers toward godly living and ministry. Usually, these people write books on a variety of Christian subjects as a means to guide God’s people. We should always be thankful to God for giving His people such leaders.


I have high esteem for some of these leaders. I would read every book they write given the time and opportunity. But when I read such books, I always do so in a discerning way knowing that the ultimate authority is the Bible. In addition, each leader has different areas of expertise. Due to time limitations, it is impossible for any one man to have extensive expertise (experience) in every possible aspect of the Christian walk or ministry. For example, most of these leaders end up spending most of their time ministering to believers so their expertise/experience generally gravitates to teaching Christians as opposed to the “unchurched.” So, he may not have much time allocated to ministries that require face to face dialog with people who would never come to church. But since the Christian community looks to him for leadership, he may still sense a need to write a book to address areas that are outside of his main areas of expertise such as evangelism for example. If he chooses to write a book about a topic outside the areas of his expertise/experience, that book will probably not be as helpful or reliable as others he has written. In other words, though he has written a book, he may not qualify as an expert in that particular field of interest.


The New Testament always links leadership with actual experience. Jesus taught His disciples continually but His teaching was always accompanied by a live demonstration. He wanted them to “follow” Him. (He wanted them to do as He did.) The Apostle Paul also led by example so he was comfortable telling believers to imitate him. (See I Corinthians 4:16.) The biblical pattern for leading always requires the teacher to be doing the things that he is teaching others to do. If he does not have much experience or is not doing those things, he must not claim to be the expert or authority on that subject. He is not qualified. Therefore, if a leader writes a book or attempts to teach others how to think or engage in ministry outside his fields of expertise/experience, he should be careful to tell them that his expertise falls outside this area and that he is teaching only what he perceives is correct rather than hold himself up as an expert on that subject. Better yet, he should begin leading by first doing it himself so he can gain the experience. Then he can tell others to imitate him as Paul did. They can watch and learn from his example rather than merely his words.


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