One of the fascinating things I’ve discovered is that:
1) Human beings are learning engines.
We are designed to learn. Compelled by some unknown force to learn, we desire to learn, and we feel bored when we are not learning. Learning comes naturally to us, maybe by design.
Take, for example, a baby learning to walk. They try and fail, then they try again and fail some more. Some people come along and give them some assistance, and it helps, but they want to do it on their own. There’s a sense of expected freedom in it for them, so they continue to try and fail, try some more and fail some more, until one day, they take a step and then another and, just like that, they’ve got it! They are walking, and everyone around is cheering. They are big stuff, they are amazing, and oops they fall again! Not to worry, they continue to try. Sure, they may take a break for a few days, but something is driving them to learn how to do this walking thing. After all, those big, tall people seem to be doing it with no problem; I should be able to do it as well. They continue to try, and before long, walking comes naturally.
How did this child learn to walk? Did mom and dad give them a bunch of instructions like, “Put one foot in front of the other, slowly keep your balance as you move from one foot, to the other, and whatever you do, do not fall! Falling is a failure, and there are no failures in this family!” Maybe, but how well do you think that worked out for them when the child barely understands the language they are speaking? My point exactly.
Children are driven to learn. Some mysterious force within them compels them to learn. Sure, they make a ton of mistakes, some people might call those mistakes failures, but they overcame them by not giving up. By not quitting. Through perseverance. They eventually learn how to do it, and the more they do it, the better they get at it. Practice does have an impact on how good we get at something. I know this is an elementary example, but it quickly proves my point.
2) We are driven to learn.
That is correct, we are not only driven to learn, but we are also driven to figure things out, to comprehend, and to understand. Eventually, we succeed and move onto the next challenge, learning to run or learning that you do not put pointy metal things in electrical outlets. Learning that you do not touch something when mom and dad say, “Don’t touch that, it’s HOT!” Life is full of lessons to be learned.
What would happen if the child in my example gave up and quit? Would they ever learn how to walk? Probably not. However, because they kept trying, they eventually learned. They discovered a way that worked. Sure, it’s a little unstable at first, but it worked. With a bit more time and effort, they perfect it, and that’s when it dawns on you, “Um, why did I encourage them to learn how to do this walking thing?” Now you are chasing them all over the house. Nothing is safe, everything is theirs, and you are not only exhausted after just 10 minutes of chasing them around the house, but you also realize everything you once owned is now THEIRS because the only word they seem to know is MINE!
3) We have been designed by God to learn.
Not only to learn but to grow and discover all the intricate things about Him and His creation that He has made available to us.
Perspective #61: We have been designed by God to learn, grow, and discover all the intricate things about Him and His creation that He has made available to us.
When we want to know something, learning is fun, even exciting.
4) Asking questions is an integral part of the learning process.
This, of course, is by design. God created us to be this way. He created everything else and put it there for our pleasure and enjoyment, for us to discover, He needed a way to help us want to get to know Him and His creation more. What better way to accomplish this than to give us a passion, desire, a drive, a joy in learning new things? And a critical component of this learning process is asking sincere questions!
As we grow and mature, the questions and the lessons become more and more difficult. The minute we finish one lesson, there are ten more in line to take its place.
5) Learning can be challenging.
Not only challenging but learning can also be frustrating and learning means failure. Most people do not realize that learning is a lifelong process of growing in our relationship with God, cooperating with Him, and partnering with Him!
Perspective #62: Learning is a lifelong process of growing in our relationship with God, cooperating with Him, and partnering with Him!
6) A significant part of learning is failing.
That’s right, failure and learning go together. We often see failure as a dreaded evil. We may even fear it. However, just think about what you could accomplish if your perspective was different. What if you looked at failure as a learning opportunity instead? What if you figured out how to leverage the failure to learn, to grow, and to become even better? Look at the example of the baby learning to walk; how did the baby learn? By doing, by exercising its muscles, by trying different things, by failing a lot! By using what worked and throwing away what didn’t. We can learn a lot from this example. Understand, the purpose isn’t to fail a lot; the purpose is to look for the best way to succeed, of which failure is an integral part.
7) Failures are the stepping stones to success!
Do not waste the failure; learn from it, grow from it, and use it to become a success!
Perspective #63: Failures are the stepping stones to success! Do not waste the failure; learn from it, grow from it, and use it to become a success!
Most people don’t like to focus on failure. Failure is not fun. I’m sure the baby cried a few times when they were learning to walk and fell or bumped into something they didn’t know how to get around. However, if you LEARN from the failure, what worked, what didn’t work, and if you apply those lessons to your next attempt, it is no longer a failure; it is a learning exercise! You see, perspective!
My wife, Diana, and I met over 14 years ago. At the time, her daughters (Britney and Nicole), now ours, were 13 and 16. Several years ago, my wife showed me several of our daughter’s baby videos. In one of them, our daughter Britney is just learning to walk. She must have been around 10 or 11 months old. Diana is behind the camera filming, talking to Britney. Nicole is sitting on the couch watching. Britney is smiling and laughing. Britney takes off walking, and for some reason, the oak coffee table in front of her didn’t move out of her way, and “SMACK” goes the forehead onto the edge of the coffee table. Diana, on camera, nonchalantly says, “Oh, baby fall and go boom?” Britney, of course, gets up, looks a little stunned, then laughs and continues marching on. Me, I’m watching this, incredulous at my wife, the woman I thought walked on water, being so callous to the daughter I love! How dare she! “WHAT is the matter with you? You are so MEAN!” (Of course, I say this out loud.)
Now because I have two boys with special needs, I have never been through this parenting phase. Diana explained that if you don’t overreact, they won’t. This was a simple equation of life. I’m still traumatized, by the way; I still check Britney’s forehead for scar damage!
I’m sure you have heard the story about Thomas Edison trying and failing an extraordinary number of times to make a light bulb, something we take for granted today. In my research, I found statements where they say he failed anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 times. For this example, let’s use 1,000 as the number of failures before he got it right. What if Thomas Edison gave up after 500 tries, or 750 tries, or even 999 tries? Thomas Edison would have never experienced success.
8) The only way to truly fail is to give up and quit.
That’s correct, the only way to truly fail is to give up and quit, to throw your toys out the window and walk off the playing field!
Perspective #64: The only way to truly fail is to give up and quit—to throw your toys out the window and walk off the playing field!
This is a critical perspective on your relationship with God. Understand, you are “finite,” He is “infinite,” and there is no way for you to comprehend Him and His ways fully. You currently do not have the ability to do this. So do not get discouraged if you run into a question you can’t find an answer to, or a concept about Him that seems too difficult to grasp. Keep investing in your relationship with Him, try it again. Ask the question a different way. Get to know Him better, keep falling more and more in love with Him. Keep at it and never give up on Him and your relationship with Him. Ensure your success! What you will find is that…
9) The more you know God, the easier the answers come to the difficult questions.
You can then compare the question to what you know about Him. This is when you can put into perspective the difficult questions like “Why does God allow evil to exist?” and compare them to who you know God to be.
Since we know God hates evil, we know evil is not something He wants to tolerate. We also know He has given us the power to choose, which means that for Him to be just, He has given us the freedom to choose even if He doesn’t agree with or like our choice. So, if we choose evil, He has to accept our choice. We can see that God isn’t allowing evil; He is giving us the freedom to choose good vs. evil. Some of us choose evil, and as we’ll learn more in the next book, all choice has consequences.
Also, do not make a mistake and put your focus on the wrong thing.
10) Do not focus on what you don’t know about God.
Most people looking for a relationship with God will fall into this trap. They will focus on what they DON’T know about God. The better solution would be to focus on what you DO know about God.
Perspective #65: Do not focus on what you don’t know about God; instead, focus on what you DO know about God.
Far too often, people get hung up on the trivial things, and they allow those small obstacles to derail their relationship with God. This is because they are focusing on the wrong thing. They get hung up on what they do not know, what they can’t understand, rather than trusting in what they do know, what they do understand. Sometimes, you have to accept the fact that you do not know something right now, which doesn’t mean you won’t know it in the future, but for now, it is an unknown to you. Accept it and move on. Embrace what you do know about God and quit dwelling on what you don’t know.
Perspective #66: Embrace what you do know about God and quit dwelling on what you don’t know.
11) We have a BIG God and small minds.
What this means is that we are not capable of knowing everything there is to know about God.
Perspective #67: We have a BIG God and small minds; we are not capable of knowing everything there is to know about God.
When we learn, we are accomplishing what God has intended for us. Since learning is an accomplishment, learning is rewarding. But how many times is success achieved on the first try? Rarely, if ever.
Finally, if these examples I’ve been using teach us one thing, that would be,
12) Success is a process of repeated learning.
Perspective #68: Success is a process of repeated learning (a.k.a. failure) until you get it right.
Any relationship, all relationships require work. They require you to invest the time it takes to make them work. Your relationship with God will be no different, you must choose to invest the time or not. The choice will always be yours to make, only, choose wisely!