I believe being a lifelong learner is one of the greatest assets you can have. The overwhelming majority of my education has happened outside of formal education settings. If I were to attribute any success I have experienced to one specific thing, it is the willingness to constantly be learning.
We go through seasons where we are learning from different things in different ways. Getting married has lessons that come with it. Becoming a parent is a learning curve. Taking that first job has challenges that require change and growth.
I was thinking about the lessons that I have been learning recently and where they came from. In the last few months, a few things have taught me the most. For my 5 Thursday Thoughts, here are the five places I am learning from the most.
You may think that as a pastor and this should be the top answer. But I go through seasons with the Bible where I am learning more than other times. This is one of those seasons. A self-righteous, uber-spiritual person may tell you they never have seasons. Take that with a grain of salt. I believe God’s Word is alive. It doesn’t change, but as I change, I see and understand things differently. I have been a Bible reader all of my life. One of the most significant things I have changed recently is how I journal through the Bible. That is probably the biggest difference. If I read it and write it, then I also affirm it out loud, it is transformational.
Earlier this year Barbara and I got a new puppy. His name is Sam. I watch how much he loves us and also wants to protect us. If someone goes to the door or someone new is in the house, he will do his best to stay between us and that person for a while. He goes at everything with all that he has. No matter how little time you may leave the house when you return, he acts like he has not seen you in days. Walking him twice a day means I am walking more. You are not too good that you cannot learn from an animal.
The oldest grandchild is ten and in those preteen years. He is evolving rapidly. The other two are six and eight and are full of energy. I am at a different place in life now than when my children were that age. I was selfish and hard-headed and very impatient. Most of those things have changed. I am able to adapt and be patient to make sure they get the lesson that they need or the attention they need. I try to listen, which is educational. They open doors for me every day about things happening in the world that I would be clueless about if they were not a part of my life.
Travel is life-changing. I say that often. Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Traveling is one of the best learning environments for me. They tell us that a change in environment is one of the best ways to change a habit or solve a problem. In the last few months, travel has introduced me to some great new people that will help take me to a new level. Travel has given me ideas that have made my personal life better and shown me some things I can implement in the organizations that I am a part of. You don’t have to go far for it to make a difference.
I read daily. My book choice has looked a little different recently. I have been spending some time on specific subjects for a book that I am writing and sermons that I am preaching. Other people have also sent me books that I would probably not pick out on my own. These books have given me ideas, expanded my view, and changed some of my practices. Reading should be a part of everyone’s daily life. There are few things that you will ever do that will have the impact of reading a book.
Where are you learning right now? If you cannot identify some places, you may be stuck in a rut and not experiencing the transformation that comes with growth. You can learn something in every environment and from every situation.