Lifelong Learner

Terry Walton


I Was Thinking…

One of the greatest compliments a person can give another person is “They are lifelong learners”.  One of the worst comments that can be made of someone is “They think they know it all!”  I suspect you have known both along your life’s journey.  When you read this I will be at Pastor’s School with many clergy who find this event a wonderful opportunity to continue the path of being a ‘lifelong learner’.  Other clergy will seek out that timely event with subject matter that speaks to an issue in their life, their ministry or their ministry setting.  Healthy Pastors are ‘lifelong learners’.

It can be tempting from time to time to ‘rest on one’s laurels’ or ‘settle in success’ but this can lead to a ‘know it all posture’ that is counter-productive to growth and, truth be known, to relationships as well.  After all, who wants to be married to a ‘know it all’?  Who wants to be a child of a ‘know it all’?  Who wants to worship in a church where the Pastor thinks he/she is a ‘know it all’?  What Pastor wants to Pastor a church full of ‘know it alls’?  Who wants to serve in a District where the District Superintendent thinks he/she is a ‘know it all’?  No one does.  Mostly we steer clear of ‘know it alls’.

Whether we are clergy or laity being a ‘lifelong learner’ is critical to our souls.  I think it could be this very thing Jesus had in mind when he taught the ‘Parable of the Soils’ as recorded in Matthew and Mark’s Gospels.  What are we feeding the seed within our souls and within our minds?

I’ve been re-visiting Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upward.  I commend it to you.  It is, in my mind, a classic.  He writes “…you can only see and understand the earlier stages (of human and spiritual maturation) from the wider perspective of the later stages.  This is why mature societies were meant to be led by elders, seniors, saints…without them, “the blind lead the blind,”…Those who are not true leaders will affirm people at their own immature level, and of course immature people will love them.  Because of this limitation, those at deeper (or higher) levels beyond you invariably appear wrong, sinful, heretical, dangerous or even worthy of elimination.  How else can we explain the consistent killing of prophets; consistent racism, self-protectiveness, and warlike attitudes of people who think of themselves as civilized?” (Pp.9-10)

It is so very important that you and I be ‘lifelong learners’ who are forever growing in our understanding of God and God’s ways.  What are we doing to stretch ourselves in mind and soul?  It is true…everybody runs from a ‘know it all’ and there is a magnetic attraction to a ‘lifelong learner’.

Always Thinking…

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