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Friday, June 08, 2007

FAA & Degrees

Well, it’s nearly 9:00 PM on Friday night and I’m sitting in a stifling hot, fully-loaded airplane on the runway at Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC. We’ve been on this plane now for nearly three (3) hours. It was more than two hours late for boarding. I guess American isn’t going to get their “on-time arrival” record tonight! They also aren’t going to get any awards for satisfying customers.

Ironically, it doesn’t appear to be their fault. It’s not even Mother Nature’s fault. I’m looking out the window and seeing more than a dozen other planes in our same situation. They all have different logos. So what’s the problem? Apparently a computer glitch at an FAA center in Atlanta disrupted the issuance of flight plans. So the planes simply cannot take off --- because they don’t have flight plans. I called a client of mine, whom I knew was supposed to be flying from Baltimore airport. He’s been sitting on the plane for a while too. The guys in the seats behind me called friends on flights elsewhere. It is the same story.

I wonder if, all over this great country, hundreds of hungry, tired business people are being held hostage in hot, over-crowded airplanes. If so, maybe this is the biggest hostage crisis our country has ever seen. The irony is strengthened in that this scene unfolds in Washington, DC, the seat of the most powerful government the world has ever seen. An even greater irony? I “won the lottery” (or at least that’s what they said) at the security gates and was “randomly selected” to have a full body search and all as I passed through airport security this afternoon (several hours ago). But then, life tends to be ironic, doesn’t it!

While sitting here on this plane, I was reading about Bill Gates’ speech to the commencement at Harvard University. He encouraged the graduating students to become activists in this world. He thanked the school for giving him an honorary degree. It was his first. Imagine that, the world’s richest man never graduated from college. That’s interesting.

Recently I blogged about my spiritual father, A. W. Tozer. He never graduated from college either. He was an ordained minister, senior pastor, well-published author and a man of considerable influence. (It wasn’t until recently that I found out he never graduated from seminary.) Imagine, a man so well endowed with spiritual wisdom, never even started seminary. That’s interesting.

I spent several hours recently with a highly educated, wonderful man. He was personable and likable. He had several advanced degrees, including two doctorates. Someone asked me about him later, and I had to admit that my first though about him afterwards was that he liked to talk. He didn’t seem to be a man of incredible wisdom. I wonder why that would be. If someone is so well educated, wouldn’t you think wisdom and discernment would just be oozing out of them!

So my warped mind is wondering now, about people with pedigrees and people without. Certainly our culture rewards pedigrees. Companies prefer to hire college graduates. Churches are very adverse to hiring people without college and seminary. Look at the job postings for church jobs and notice that most require seminary degrees. I’ve got nothing against formal education. In fact, I enjoy being a student myself. But I wonder how much wisdom really comes from formal education.

The Bible says that true wisdom comes from God. It says that discernment comes from the Holy Spirit working in us. Can these also come from degrees and seminary? What percentage of the truly remarkable people who exhibit great wisdom and discernment have degrees and/or seminary? I wonder what it would look like if businesses and churches and governments valued great thinking ability versus great learning ability. What would the world look like if churches valued immense spiritual wisdom and discernment as much as they valued seminary degrees? Would the church be more or less effective than it is?

So that’s me. Full of questions (and usually lacking in answers). No, I didn’t get a degree myself. I use all the software that Bill Gates’ dreamed of and got rich selling me … every single day, all day long. I read A. W. Tozer every day for spiritual feeding. I think it’s fair to say that these two men have great influence in my day-to-day life. And neither of them have formal education. I find that interesting.

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