To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction. – Proverbs 12:1 (NLT)
I wasn’t a very good learner in elementary school. For starters, I didn’t like school. I liked my classmates, recess and gym time but thought the classroom was a waste of time. Those attitudes made it difficult to learn that a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y are vowels.
Since then, I’ve learned to learn. Even when learning opportunities arise that don’t relate to things I’m interested in, I’ve learned it is a good thing to pay attention. I might pick up something valuable that others miss.
Learning to learn involves doing what you know well. David Garibaldi is a drummer for Tower of Power. I’ve studied his thoughts on funk style drumming. One of his instructions is called, “Practicing an Exercise”. The idea is to take a section of music, divide it into smaller parts, perfect each section and slowly play it all together. So, instead of tackling a challenging piece all at once, you divide and conquer. Do what you know to do well and add other pieces as they come.
Learning to learn enables other people to contribute to your success. We go through this life with a lot to learn. Learning how to include other people in your learning process is an art, not a science. God may bring someone into our lives that irritates us, or challenges us. That person just might help us learn something we didn’t know before.
God also helps us learn through the power of the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus was crucified and went back to heaven, He spoke to His disciples and told them what to expect in their future. He told them that people would persecute them and would drag them in front of rulers and leaders. In those moments, He told them not to worry about what to say because the Holy Spirit would give them what they needed at the moment.
The friends of Jesus, who displayed incredible immaturity at times, were able to represent Christ well when they were empowered by the Holy Spirit. Because of their willingness to learn and to follow Christ, they made room for the Holy Spirit to guide them and instruct them on things that mattered.
The best way to be a learner is with a soft heart, listening ears and a slow mouth. God has a lot to teach us and He’s willing to show us everything we need. What we learn is based upon what we’re open to. How we learn is based upon our perspective and attitude. What we do with what we learn is fueled by our love for God and for others.
The next thing you learn might be the thing that helps many people. Or, the next thing you learn just might help you overcome an obstacle you’ve faced for years. Either way, the journey of learning is worth the effort.