Learning to Learn

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”Ephesians 6:1

Like many folks in my generation, I grew up listening to the advice of my mother and father. Not that I was model child, mind you, just that they were there and, well, I listened. Sometimes I learned. More often, I nodded and ignored. Such is youth.

Of course, ask any 15-25 year-old today and you may get a different answer. Not only do they ignore as we did, they tune out! This is not completely on them – today’s distracted society creates plenty of opportunities to look the other way and if we’re being honest, parents in many cases are too overly concerned about being “cool” or “friends” or “young” to actually practice real parenting. Such is life in Century 21.

When my mother passed a few months ago, childhood memories played over and over in my thoughts. I had decided to deliver the eulogy and as I tried organizing my comments into a narrative that conveyed her life but also reflected what she taught me, I was reminded of Proverbs 1:8 “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Okay, so Proverbs is talking about fathers but play along here.  The deeper meaning beyond an Exodus 20:12 admonishment to respect your parents is to learn from those who come before us.  They’ve lived the mistakes we haven’t yet imagined.

Throughout my life, I’ve strived to learn something new every day. My dad called me a “human vacuum” because I always inhaled information and could recall it effortlessly. This proved to be highly benefi
cial in growing a profession, but it also provides a valuable lesson in life.

Learning happens in several ways. The two most obvious (and most often employed) are: easy and hard. The hard way? Hurl yourself into a brick wall, back up hit it again. Rinse and repeat. The easy way? Learn the first time we face plant. And sometimes, we can simply remember what someone told us 10 years ago…

Chuck Swindoll, senior pastor at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, wrote: “The wonderful thing about God’s schoolroom is that we get to grade our own papers… He doesn’t test us so He can learn how well we’re doing. He (allows) tests so WE can discover how well we’re doing.”

There’s vital guidance from scripture in this. Proverbs 1:8 is more than a mere suggestion to respect our parents and God isn’t throwing us a trick question. When we resist instruction, the teaching continues regardless of our opinion!

Our challenge as leaders (and humans) is to discern lessons as they are presented in our daily lives, learn from those, then move to the next lesson.  Sometimes we can even remember what mom and dad told us.

Rinse and repeat.

Colossians 1:17

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