How can you tell who’s the best guy in the room? How can you tell who has the best abilities or the best knowledge? In my experience, there’s no sure way to answer that question with just a glance. However, you can almost always tell who for sure isn’t the best guy in the room.
The person who has the most gear, the most stuff, is most probably not the best guy in the room.
The guy with the most photographic equipment strapped to their body is probably not the best photographer. The guy with the most cooking knives is probably not the best guy in the kitchen. The guy with the most toys in the kitchen is probably not the best cook. The guy with the most paintball gear is probably not the best player on the field. The guy with the fanciest car is probably not the best driver on the track. The guy with the most bibles is probably not the best student in the bible study.
At this point, I have to tell you what prompts me to write this post.
I go to a bi-weekly bible study class at my church, and yesterday I brought 3 Bibles with me. Well, actually, that’s not entirely true. I brought two hardcopy Bibles with me and my digital tablet which carries softcopies of probably 7 or 8 different Bible translations … but I had only one open for the class. So that’s why I say I had 3 Bibles with me for the class!
What in the world am I doing with that many Bibles for a brief, 90-minute class? Well, I don’t know my stuff very well. That’s the truth. I have been a Christian for about 10 years now but don’t really know the Bible very well. I’m really enjoying the in-depth look that we’re taking at the Gospel of John, and I want to understand and appreciate as much of it as I can. So, I took with me a hardcopy of the Amplified Bible, a hardcopy of the Expanded Bible, and opened up a copy of the English Standard Version (ESV) on my tablet.
I’ve brought other Bible translations to the class before, but I just recently purchased the AMP and Expanded because they break out subtleties in meaning in a way that makes them poor for reading out loud but great for really trying to understand things.
Everyone else there, of course, has only one copy of the Bible. Even the few folks who are using tablets have just one reference copy open.
So what does it say about me when I have 3 Bibles there and everyone else has 1? Does it mean I know my stuff better than any of them? Does it mean that I’m the hotshot in the class? Far from it! In fact, the total opposite!
That little observation last night reminded me that in almost every endeavor and interest I have been a part of, gear does not define the guy. Gear does not make you better. Gear does not make you kick ass. Gear just means you’re obviously really keen, might mean you’re a show-off, and it means you’re compensating for insufficient ability to be at the top rung of the ladder.
Don’t get me wrong, people who perform well have good stuff. They just don’t need a lot of it, and sometimes the stuff they choose to use is far from flashy. Wannabes pay for flash. Top dogs don’t. Wannabes don’t know what they need, so they buy everything they think they’ll need. Top dogs know what they need and that’s all they bring to the game.
Now, I say all this having gone through the phase of not knowing what I need and buying everything that I think I’ll need or that I think will help me perform better in multiple fields, almost all of them pricey. Photography… although in my defence, I actually trained and worked professionally as a photographer. My gear collecting didn’t start because of that though! Then there was paintball through two great spasms of gear acquisition. Then there was cooking knives, and to a lesser degree cooking ware like pots and pans. And yes, Bibles and commentaries and all the other stuff that surrounds Bibles.
I eventually got enough ability and experience with photography to learn what’s worthwhile and what’s not. I eventually got enough ability and experience in paintball to learn what’s worthwhile and what’s not. I eventually learned with cooking knives and cookingware what’s worthwhile and what’s not.
I’m still learning this in the world of Bibles and associated study aids. Thankfully in this realm the dollar costs involved are significantly less.
I’m aiming to seriously truncate the acquisition phase that combines ignorance with optimism when I get into new adventures down the road. For an otherwise smart guy, sometimes I learn things like this really slowly — and I figure having made the over-eager mistake of getting more gear several times now in several different domains that I’ve learned the lesson for the most part.
I might not be able to avoid it completely, but I certainly aim to minimize it as much as possible!
So… I speak from experience both as someone who has been there and someone who is still there, depending on what we’re talking about, when I say that you can be pretty darned sure that the guy with the most gear is not the best guy in the game.
Keep that in mind, and never let the guy with tons of stuff intimidate you. Keep on having fun out there, and keep on kicking ass!