Some time ago, I read an article about a prominent Lutheran theologian, who has been dead for some time. One of the questions asked was who today would be able to match the stature and abilities of this particular individual.
A commenter said no one would ever match his stature or abilities, not because the world is incapable of producing such theologians, but because regulations and laws demand that people obtain documents and degrees in order to qualify for positions. The result is that the qualified have better things to do than bother with earning a certificate, and the less qualified have nothing better to do than get degrees and certificates making them eligible for higher posts.
Now don’t get me wrong; I want people properly educated and certified before they do things; but sometimes the eye test works better than the paper test. Sometimes you can look at someone and say, you know what, they don’t need a piece of paper that says their good, they already are.
In our efforts to promote excellence, we have instead shackled it in paperwork.
I mention all this because the latest ‘scandal’ in the world of politics is that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker does not have a college degree, and some are arguing that he could not possibly be President of the United States, because he does not have a piece of paper granting him the ‘dime a dozen’ bachelor of arts degree.
Let me be kind here, if all you need to be President of the United States is a bachelor of arts degree, than Scott Walker has a lot more competition for the Republican nomination, let alone the title of President.
But to be more to the point, we have lost as a country, the notion that you can do things without a college education and be successful. The truth is that Walker determined that he could walk off the college campus without a degree and get a job that would provide for him and his family. And many others have made the same decision.
Should everyone do this? No; some people need the education a college degree grants; some need the paperwork that says they know what they say they know. Heart surgeons need to finish all their classes; as do pastors; as do accountants; as do many others.
But at some point the eye test is going to be placed before you and all people; just as it was with Walker: the papers you may or may not have tell me one thing, but can you actually do?
Can that heart surgeon successfully perform surgery again and again? Can that accountant get the books to balance at the end of the year? Can that pastor preach law and gospel? Can that governor or president reward righteousness and punish wickedness?
And when the eye test is administered, whether by an employer or by a client or by a congregation, paperwork is irrelevant.
Our society has told us that it is paperwork that matters, and I suppose some days it may. But when it comes down to it, would you rather have society crash and burn under an educated twit; or would you rather prosper under someone who deemed the paperwork to be a hindrance to his greater aspirations?