I’m sure you’ve heard the adage: an expert is someone far from home who carries a briefcase. It’s human nature to put more trust in an outsider who tells you the same thing as the people close to you. But do they really know more about the subject, or do they just fake it and no one really knows any better?

People love experts. There’s something comforting in knowing the person in charge or the highly-paid consultant is an expert.

I used to think that anyone who made it to the top had to be an expert. CEOs and presidents obviously came from special stock and knew exactly what to do in every situation. But the more time I spend in administration, I know it’s all untrue. The leader at the top has just as many insecurities as the next guy and faces new challenges every day that he has never faced before. Sure, he usually has a longer list of experiences to fall back on, but it still comes down to well-educated guesses and gut calls. All he can do is run his new challenges through the grid he’s built as he moved up the ladder.

I remember the first time I was part of a wedding party and discovered that the well-produced, flawless weddings I’d attended before were very likely the result of people like me reacting to the setbacks and making it up as they went along. By all appearances, the result was a beautiful wedding, but I had seen the truth: a groomsman hiding severe poison oak rash after an outing to clip ivy vines for the trellis, breadsticks and water subbing for communion elements, and ushers who got the job done — even if not quite according to plan or schedule.

Perhaps leadership comes down to well-prepared “winging it.”

One more thought on this subject. Evangelical Christians are particularly fond of experts. We have an expert to speak for the family. One to speak for money issues. One to speak for mass evangelism, and another to speak for one-on-one evangelism. Evangelicals only seem to have room for one spokesperson at a time, and anyone who comes up with an opposing idea is greeted with suspicion at best.

But what if there are no experts? What if there was room for others to apply their experiences and their grid and come up with new ideas for the family, for dealing with money and for evangelism? What if leaders could come from anywhere?