Theorist: Someone who considers given facts and comes up with a possible explanation is called a theorist. Practitioner: A practitioner is someone who is actively involved in real life situations, and qualified to practice a particular occupation, profession, or religion.
I had a conversation 10 years ago with a few close friends. I don’t actually remember the exact details of the entire conversation but I definitely remember the conclusion I came to soon after it was over. I was with four other ministry people, all of which had quite a few years of experience. A couple of these guys are great communicators, orators, Bible teachers. But they weren’t actively involved in the day to day dealing with people and their problems. It’s not that they couldn’t do it; they have. It’s just that they weren’t heavily involved at that time. I’ll call them the ‘theorists’. They’re important people; they’re good at what they do!
It was a really good, brisk discussion on how things ought to work in the church from a, strictly, Biblical standpoint. On those topics, there wasn’t much disagreement, whatsoever. But the ‘rub’ came when we began talking about how it really is in the ‘trenches’. You know, out there where the rubber hits the road….in real life; Where you get knocked down, get your nose bloodied, betrayed, lied to, lied about, tripped up and derailed. That all can happen (and really a lot more!) in the process of ‘practicing’ the theory, especially in ministry.
I am deeply involved in the day to day challenge of dealing with people…and their issues. Been doing it for over 30 years. It’s what I do. I’m far from perfect at it….but I have learned a few things. For that reason, I’d say I’m more a ‘practitioner’ than a theorist. When you add, what I’d call the ‘human factor’, to any theory, even a Biblical one, it complicates that theory to a large degree. Doesn’t mean the theory is wrong or even faulty, for that matter. But it’s different when it’s being lived out in real life. It’s never quite as neat; in fact, it’s usually pretty messy; it’s never as cut and dried as we’d like for it to be. When you add people to the equation it gets a lot more difficult. It’s nearly always worth it….but difficult, nonetheless.
It led me to this conclusion; There needs to be a ‘coming together’ of the ‘theorists’ and the ‘practitioners’. They need to sit down at the table and talk, discuss, compare, hash it out, even argue a little if it’s friendly and helpful. It’s vital, I think. And, if it’s done in a productive manner….everyone leaves the table wiser and better equipped…..and both have a much better understanding.
In all truth, and I think this is how the Lord designed it for obvious reasons, …..unless the theory is tested in the laboratory of life….all you have is a theory. But when the theory is a Biblical one, and the parties involved will lean toward the Lord, it usually works out……..a whole lot more often than not!
The theorists and the practitioners need to get together!
Readin’ a book about learning how to fly an airplane is fine…..but when you’re taxiing down the runway……things get REAL!
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