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George Campbell Morgan, a well-known British preacher in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, once attended a small country church while on holiday with his wife. As they left, she remarked at how good the young preacher’s sermon was. Morgan replied, “Yes, it was good; and it will be better after he’s suffered.”

It’s quite common to dislike in others what one sees in oneself. When I was the same age as younger millennials and older Gen Z people, I lacked humility and was pretty sure I was an expert at some stuff. I stood up to preach as “the man who knows everything.”

The internet is awash with people that age who have set themselves up as experts. They produce sophisticated appearing on-line courses, market themselves as life coaches, set up websites, pastor churches, and self-publish books. They are quite good at self-promotion.

I notice it particularly in areas I’m interested in, such as biblical scholarship, Christian ethics, personality types, Enneagram points, therapeutic models. Like I did when I was there age, they read some books and declare themselves to be experts. They seem very sure of themselves.

In reality, they (and their courses, sermons, postings, blogs, seminars, etc.) are shallow. They lack depth. They lack nuance. They lack humility. And, most of all, they are shallow because they have not deeply suffered, nor taken the time to wrestle with complex issues. Cultures wiser than our own value the wisdom of the elders, not simply because they’re old, but because they have spent decades in crucibles of understanding.

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