I remember graduating from Lincoln Christian College and taking my first church. I was ready to make a mark on the world. Totally clueless. I thought I knew everything. I was ready to make a contribution to the kingdom and knew that I knew everything I needed to know (say that 3 times fast).
It didn’t take long before I realized that I needed more input on how to move the kingdom along. From that first ministry I have made it a point to never feel like I knew it all.
Here are some of the realized benefits from being a life-long learner:
- Keeps us out of the ruts. We have a tendency to do things the same way, over and over. Left to ourselves we will repeat this pattern until boredom or ineffectiveness sets in. We need outside influence to give us fresh perspectives and motivations.
- Networking. People in ministry are not in competition. We are on the same team. Some other people in ministry have what you need, and you have what they need. I have learned a ton from people who have allowed me to network with them. I am always looking to learn more, especially from guys in the trenches. Maybe that it why I dig the whole blog scene so much.
- Makes us critical thinkers who operate fully awake. With no outside stimuli, the mind sometimes goes to autopilot. With no one to challenge us, there is no fight or flight response, just a "do the same thing because it is working and I have a nice routine" response. Sometimes we need to be challenged to think critically about why and how we do what we do. Some of the best learning times for me have been in research or observations or discussions with people who go against what I am doing. They don’t agree with the way I do things, let alone the reason behind them. No matter. I embrace them. They make me defend what I am doing or change. Either way, it is a win for me.
- Keeps us up on culture. My dream is that the church would reverse itself. History has pointed out that the church at one point led the culture. Today it is other way around. Many churches figured out the culture the best they could, built kingdom movements around that, and then stopped learning. Some churches had booming ministries in the 1950′s. It’s not 1950 anymore. When we bury our heads in the sand and stop learning, culture shifts and we are left wondering what happened. I see some hope and some movement in all this, whish is greatly encouraging. Understand the times, my friend, because soon we will be leading them.
I once read where Bill Hybels said something like "Never apologize for being a learner ." I dig Bill.
I do all I can to learn. I read (slowly :>), I observe, discuss, scan blogs, watch, critique, question myself, question our ministry, pace myself, and travel extensively. For all of those, I make no apology.
What about you? What are you doing to be a life-long learner?
For more great pictures like the one above, check out TT’s photos.