Expert Generalist

Just read a fascinating article entitled Picasso, Kepler, and the Benefits of Being an Expert Generalist. I was attracted to this because as much as “expert generalist” sounds like an oxymoron, it’s exactly who I think I am. I have always had the personality of “jack of all trades” and been even called a “renaissance man.” And as much as that sounds nice, it’s one of the most frustrating things. Because a “jack of all trades” is a “master of none.” Because a “renaissance man” is known for just being a “renaissance man” and not for what they actually do.

It’s frustrating because even though there are many things that I enjoy and God’s even gifted me in many areas, I feel like there’s not an area or certain thing that I can be excellent in. There’s always a limit to my growth in the path that I’ve tried to focus on. Whether it be music or computers or ministry or whatever … I feel the limitations more than my competence. The other frustrating thing about it is that because there’s not one thing that you’re excellent in, you don’t stand out … you don’t become the expert in that area. When I tell others about my frustrations, they sometimes tell me, no you ARE a master at this or that. But that’s just because I might be better at it then them. To be a master of anything, it takes focus. And so to focus on many things is actually to focus on nothing.

But I feel like more recently, I’ve been coming to understand that this is how God’s wired me. And even though I’ve tried and tried to focus on one thing or one area in my life where I can focus on, whenever I do that, I feel like a part of me dies and I’m not being faithful to ALL the gifts God’s given me. That’s why it was refreshing to read this article. Because it was making the point that having knowledge in many areas can be very powerful.

I call these individuals expert generalists, because they have a wide variety of knowledge. They are able to use this knowledge to suggest new ways to look at problems. They are also good at translating across areas of expertise. So, when a group gets together to solve a problem, they can help different members of that group to see how their knowledge inter-relates.

I feel like that’s me. And this quote was the kicker:

Creativity often requires drawing analogies between one body of knowledge and another.

As I desire to be more and more creative, being an “expert generalist” really helps in creativity. In fact, you can’t really be a specialist in one area and expect creativity, because creativity by nature is to do something new or out-of-the-box. This article was pretty insightful for me to understand that creativity and being a generalist go hand-in-hand.

Do I want to grow and get better in all the areas I’ve been gifted in? Absolutely. But I’ve got to learn that I’ll never be satisfied with just sticking to one thing and being the best in the field in that one area. That’s just me.

Thank You Lord for making me the way I’m wired. And thank you for the many gifts that You’ve given me. May I be a good steward of those gifts.

6 comments

  1. Wow, Kye I can see how you feel an expert generalist but I would just call you and expert in so many things! God has so gifted and anointed you for this season and I’m praying you are encouraged at the amazing works He continues to do through you!!!!!

    1. Erica, thank you very much for your encouraging words. Grateful for God’s graciousness in my life to be used by Him. Please continue to use the gifts that God’s given YOU! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  2. Kye — I agree with Erica above — you’re definitely an expert in many fields 🙂

    Thanks for sharing these insights. In some ways, being an ordinary pastor requires a “jack of all trades” approach. Preaching, writing, music, design, etc. all come up against the reality of walking alongside others in life’s pain & joy (and everything in between). I want to equip as many people as possible through my ministry, and I would hope that those I’ve pastored would surpass me in any and all of these areas.

    It’s taken awhile but I’m starting to see the benefits of the “Medici effect” in my ministry — seeing connections across fields & disciplines that others might now see, and how these insights benefit the Kingdom.

Leave a Reply