For some of us, as we get older and leave school or military service, we tend not to value learning as much as we did when we were younger. We stop growing, stop discovering, and thus our drive and ambition for learning seem to fall off a little. Maybe we become afraid of failure, and we stop trying. We quit learning. We are no longer exercising our ability to learn. Perhaps we think we know it all and do not feel the need to learn anymore, which is usually a phase we go through during adolescence; however, it can sometimes infect adults!
There are some of you out there who have never had this problem; you are always excited about learning new things. All I can say is, I’m jealous. I wish I had been that way.
I do not want to give the impression that I stopped learning altogether. For my job, as a computer programmer and eventually as a director of I.T., I am always learning new things. It is fun; I am having a blast, but because it is for my job, I never really considered it learning. Looking back, I realize I didn’t have a problem learning new things about my job, but I invested little or no effort in learning new things about God. Sure, part of that reason could have been that I was mad at Him. Why would I want to learn anything new about someone that had nothing better to do than pick on me? Nevertheless, can you imagine the impact I could have had for His Kingdom if I applied myself to learning more about Him when I was younger?
For example, reading is one of many ways to learn, and for me, I’ve always hated reading. It’s so time-consuming, and to be honest, I’m a slow reader. I need to make sure I’m comprehending and understanding what I’m reading, so I may read and re-read a paragraph several times before I get it. Let me clarify something before I finish my story. There is a reason I hate reading. Let me explain why.
When I was in high school, I heard rumors about college teachers saying something like, “Read these 300 pages from this book and these 250 pages from this other book and then write me a comparison report contrasting the differences between the two opinions presented. Your report needs to be 5,000 words, double-spaced, and it is due at the beginning of next week’s class.” To me, this isn’t teaching; it is more like punishment, but I digress. By the way and for the record, I love teachers; my church is full of them I know none of them would EVER be that mean!
The fact that I’m a slow reader and need to comprehend and understand everything I read made this a terrifying obstacle to me. Being gripped by fear, college didn’t sound nearly as much fun as playing war games in the Marine Corps.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, reading can also be fun. The stories you can involve yourself in, the places you can go, and the things you can learn are unimaginable. Nevertheless, because it required me to sit alone and do nothing but read, I did not perceive its tremendous value.
Enter the iPhone, iTunes, and Audible. I got my first iPhone in 2011 (I know, I was a late bloomer) and by the end of that year, I was starting to learn how to leverage it. I purchased Pastor Skip Heitzig’s 729 series. This is 729 messages he's given over the years that takes you through the entire Bible, book by book. An entire Bible Study on mp3, how cool is that? Anyway, I started listening to that as I went out for my daily walk and found that I was learning as I was exercising. What a concept! So, I expanded this to listen on my drive to and from work, while I was outside working in the yard, or working on the piles of “honey do’s” I had on my list. Accidentally, I started to develop an attitude of learning, I could not get enough. I was reading (listening) to 2-3 books a week (depending on their length). That is 100-150 books a year I was consuming! And it was FUN, that was the most amazing part to me.
It was AWESOME. I couldn’t believe the wisdom I was absorbing while doing the things I did all the time. I learned so much from Skip’s teachings that I couldn’t get enough. It was like flipping a light switch. I had found a way to learn that didn’t overwhelm me. So much so that I finished all 729 messages in less than 14 months.
After this, I ran into some relationship problems with another manager at work. I’d been working as a project manager for a regional grocery retail chain for three years and loved my job. Suddenly, I couldn’t do anything right. It was like going from hero to zero overnight. It left me feeling dumbfounded as to what I had done wrong.
I figured I must be doing something wrong relationally. When researching what to do and how to fix my problem, I kept running across this book called How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. At the time, this book was 65 years old, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to help me with a modern-day problem. However, I’m not sure why I did, but I decided to give it a try. What could it hurt? I opened an Audible account and downloaded the How to Win Friends and Influence People audiobook to my iPhone and started listening.
This was amazing! There was so much wisdom in this one book that I read (listened to), so I listened to it two more times. Then the thought occurred to me, “What if there are more books out there with just as much wisdom in them?” So, I downloaded several other books that were recommended by others and was on the fast track to audio learning.
If you love sitting down with a book and turning the pages or using a digital reader, that is a wonderful thing. I applaud you and might even be a little jealous. However, for those of us who are challenged by that process, we have another option.
The point I want to make with this is that there are no excuses for you NOT to learn. YOU have been designed and empowered with the ability to learn new and amazing things. Please visit my website WalkerJamesAuthor.com and the “Resources” tab to see a list of books I recommend you read and why. There are some terrific books out there and some fantastic authors God has blessed with the ability to communicate Him to the rest of us.
Remember Perspective #11: “God will hold you accountable for all the evidence of His existence regardless of whether you believe it or not.” Cooperate with God, partner with God to learn as much about Him as you can.
The amount of content for you to learn from, listen to, read and absorb is staggering. There is no excuse for not doing so. Remember to always learn with an open mind, first asking God, “What is it you want me to learn? Give me the wisdom to see your truth and help me to retain what I read and what I learn and apply it to my life.” When you do this, you begin to cooperate with God’s design for you and for your life. You find out more about Him and this magnificent world He created. This, in turn, empowers you to serve Him and His Kingdom better. Be sure to always compare what other people say to what the Bible says about God; that way, you will always be able to discern His truth!
Perspective #69: Be sure to always compare what other people say to what the Bible says about God; that way, you will always be able to discern His truth!
Ask Him all the time, ask Him everything! Ask Him when you do not know and when you do not understand. Ask Him when you are struggling with the why. Ask Him for job advice. Ask Him for relationship advice. If someone says something about Him that doesn’t quite sound right, run it by Him and seek His truth. Even things that seem plausible, still run them by Him. Ask Him! Since God wants a close, personal, loving, intimate relationship with you, then He positively wants you to ASK Him everything.
Perspective #70: Since God wants a close, personal, loving, intimate relationship with you, then He positively wants you to ASK Him everything.
In the New Testament, Jesus’ brother James says it so much better than I can:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. – James 1:5
You see, God wants you to pursue this relationship with Him. If this relationship wasn’t something you could invest in, then why did Jesus say:
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. – Matthew 7:7-8
God is giving abundantly to those asking, to those seeking, to those knocking. Jesus goes on to explain that if we, as sinful human beings, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will His perfect, righteous and holy Father give to you if you just ask?
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! – Matthew 7:9-11
Do not be afraid to ask God anything and everything; your sincere questions only stoke the fires of your learning engine and can only enhance and grow your relationship with Him.
Perspective #71: Your sincere questions only stoke the fires of your learning engine and can only enhance and grow your relationship with God.