Most of what I really needed to know about operating a business I learned working at my family's orchard and fruit stand starting around age five.
Later in life, I also earned a degree from Harvard Business School. My time at Harvard was hard and wonderful, and I'm so grateful for it. But over time I've seen that having a place like Harvard on your resume can change the way people treat you, and not always in positive ways.
In professional settings, Harvard tends to open doors. Clients and coworkers who learn about my degree offer me a little more respect; they consult me more, listen more closely when I speak, and are generally less likely to interrupt me. This may or may not be fair, but it's true.
At church on Sundays, that same degree tends to have the opposite effect. When people at church happen to hear about my connection to Harvard, they generally react pretty predictably: "Oh wow! You must be smart." Usually this is followed by something to distinguish themselves apart from that "smart" label: "Not me! I only went to a state school." And just like that, we're "us" and "them." It doesn't always happen this way of course, but it does happen quite a bit.
These disparate reactions are telling and somewhat troubling to me. On one hand, I see a work environment that worships intellect to an unhealthy degree. On the other, I see a Christian culture that is increasingly willing to create a polite distance from intellectual pursuits.1