Learning Together

dog_on_computerfeature“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” is a saying that most of us have probably heard.  But, we are not dogs!  We are followers of Jesus.  We are people who continue to grow and learn until our lives are over.  The cartilage in our bodies continues to grow, including our noses and ears.  We also can continue to grow in wisdom and knowledge of God.

This spiritual discipline is an act of piety.  It allows us to reflect upon our lives and God.  These acts of reflection prepare us to receive God’s grace more fully.  Study allows our minds to grow.  When we study with a group of other people, we are able to grow even more because we have the benefit of their knowledge.  We can learn more when we study together.

We also have the chance to grow our relationships with others which is an added benefit growing-in-christ-300x200to becoming involved in a study or small group.  Church membership is not required to get involved.  Below are some of the types of classes and groups:

Bible Study:  God has given us the Bible so that we may learn about God.  There are many ways to study the Bible.  Some of these studies occur during a morning class such as Sunday school.  Some of these are long term studies.  Others focus on a specific biblical theme.

Virtual Classes: These on-line classes offer a digital class experience.  Some of the course are at a specific time and offer interaction with the group while others are done at your own pace and in your own time.  Many of these are offered through the United Methodist Church.

Workshops: These are usually one or two days and focus on a specific topic.  We often have workshops with outside trainers and teachers to gain new knowledge.

Book Study: The number of times these groups gather can vary.  Some will meet once to discuss a specific book while other groups will meet over a course of weeks to glean insight from a book.  These are great opportunities for those who like to have time to process information before sharing thoughts about the information presented.

Thematic Study: Sometimes we want to delve into a topic or theme.  These studies can vary in length, but they are usually focused around a specific topic.  Our church is focusing on spiritual disciplines, so we will have a study on prayer as well as Sabbath.

There are many types of classes and ways to get involved.  The important thing is that we never stop growing.  In order to grow, we must find time for growth, study, and fellowship.

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Cumulative

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Tis the season of . . . Final exams.  Many college students are in the muck in the mire of exams.  They are being tested on the entire semester of learning to determine their mastery of the subject.  Some subjects are easier than others.  Some weeks are easier than others.  Some people test better than others.  No matter how easy or hard the experience is, we all know that it is a cumulative experience.  The exam builds on the learning for the entire class.

The cumulative experience is more than just the class.  The finals experience is a cumulative experience of learning and life in general.  How did you learn to study and take notes?  It will affect your exam.  How did you learn to manage your time?  It will affect your exam.  How do you deal with personal issues?  It will affect your exam.

The same is true for our lives and the lives of others.  It is all cumulative.  The experiences of your life add up to the person you are.  The joys and trials of your life have prepared you for this moment in  your life.  What you do with all of the cumulative experiences is up to you.  You can choose to learn from the difficulties.  You can choose to empathize with others.  You can choose to offer hope and encouragement to those around you.  The way you live will have an effect on the lives of others.

 

It is cumulative.

Learning

Computer Keyboard

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I have found that there are certain jobs that I am not suited to do.  One of those jobs is repairing computers.  I do not have the knowledge, but I also do not have the patience.  The individuals standing behind computer repair counters and computer help lines  have endurance.  They have to endure people, like me, who have just enough computer knowledge to be problematic.  We are the ones who  attempt to fix things ourselves.  After becoming very frustrated on our own, we find that we have complicated a problem.  We are probably the same ones who try to fix household plumbing and create a larger headache for the professional plumber.

 

The people who make a tangled mess out of the situation are not the only people that a computer tech must endure.  They must also endure the impatient people who are convinced that all computer related problems can and should be resolved in thirty minutes or less.  These are the heavy-sighing, foot-tapping, and eye-rolling people who would like to tech to hurry-it-up.  The tech is the one who is supposed to fix the computer.  What difference does it make it if we the consumer cannot even describe the problem?  They are the expert.

 

Another group of people are those who are frustrated beyond politeness.  These are the folks who have considered ways to harm the computer.  These folks have been thinking about shooting the computer, hurling the computer through a closed window, or otherwise physically assaulting the machine.  Since the need for the computer is so great, the frustration is often unleashed on the computer technician.

 

All of these personalities are represented at the computer repair counter and in our daily lives.  These personalities may be represented in us or in the people around us.  We have a choice as to how we deal with the various people we encounter.  We can react or we can learn.

 

Reacting would be easy.  If someone acts in a negative way, the you respond in kind.  If someone makes things more difficult for you, then you make things more difficult for them.  If someone is demanding, then you are more demanding.  Reacting requires very little thought.  It is the knee-jerk reaction.

 

Learning is more difficult.  Learning means that instead of just seeing and experiencing the negativity, we make a conscious choice to learn about ourselves and the other person through the experience.  We can learn about ourselves by experiencing how and when we are able to make choices instead of just reacting.  We can learn about ourselves by how well (or poorly) we reflect peace, love, and hope.  We can learn about the other person when we look beyond the immediate reactions we experience.  The person who was trying to do their own repair may have some computer knowledge.  They could show us how another person’s brain works.  The person who expects immediate results from us probably thinks very highly of our skills.  The person who is frustrated may have a lot of life frustrations.

 

If we choose to learn rather than react, then we can grow.  We can grow in knowledge of self, others, and God.  I am grateful for the computer technicians who choose not to react.  I am grateful that my computers are repaired.  I hope that I can pass on what I learned from my computer tech, and I hope you will consider learning from others.

Learning from Others

Indian Head, MD Public School no datephoto © 2008 Adam | more info (via: Wylio)A few years ago I met a new school administrator.  This administrator had some innovative ideas about helping her school move forward.  As we were talking, she started talking about how she spent her time.  She spent the majority of her days observing her teachers.  She believed if she was not watching them, then they would not perform well.    I am not an educator, but I knew some of the teachers in the school.  I found it hard to believe that all were teaching poorly.  As the administrator continued to talk I realized that she believed that her way was the only correct way to teach.

Truth was and is that this educator was un-teachable.  She kept talking.  I wondered how I might suggest that there was redeeming value and lessons to be learned from at least some of the teachers.  The administrator kept talking.  I realized that she was so convinced of her own rightness that she would never be able to value anyone else’s ideas or opinions.  She could not see that others may have ideas worth considering, other ways of doing the same thing, and more understanding of teaching.

I learned a lot from that administrator.  I learned about trying to keep myself open to the ideas of others.  I learned that while I think all of my own ideas are good, there are lots of other ideas out there.  If I am going to learn from others, I have to be able to hear and consider their ideas.  I also learned that there are many ways to achieved the same results.  I hope you stay open to the possibilities of new ideas and new ways of doing things.  I hope we all value the contributions of others.  I hope that administrator realizes the value of others.

Legacy

4 Generations - Dringphoto © 2004 Donna Rutherford | more info (via: Wylio) Recently I was at an event sitting between my parents and my daughter.  I was also reading a biography that talked about the great foundation an individual’s family had given him.   This made me wonder about our legacy.  What are we living to future generations?  What wisdom, learning, beliefs, values, and attitudeswill those who come after us learn from us?

We often find ourselves so busy doing the things that need to be done, that we fail to consider what all of our doing is teaching those who will follow after us.  In my high school, senior wrote a “Last Will and Testament“, which was a list of the things that they would live as their legacy to the lower classes.  The things left behind represented cherished memories and lessons of life that had been shared or learned along the way.  Their legacy to those who followed them.

I have learned and am still learning lessons from my parents, but is not enough for us to just learn the lessons.  We have to be the ones teaching lessons as well.  Often this teaching comes by example.  Our legacy is often determined by the example we set.  Consider the example you are setting, the lessons you are teaching, the wisdom you are sharing to determine what your legacy is about.  Consider how you are giving your legacy to those who will come after you.  Is your legacy only for family, or is it for the larger community.

It is your legacy, and you are the one who decides what it is and to whom it is imparted.