As I shared last week from David Worcester’s article, “5 Practices of A Life-Long Learner,” we can choose to just go through life, or grow through life. Personally, I believe that merely going through life shows that we don’t care about it; we’re just here, doing whatever it is we do for no particular reason. But if we choose to grow through life, I think it could prove to be so much more meaningful. That’s something we as Christians, especially those of us who are in the mission field, should start putting into practice if we haven’t been doing so already. After all, growing in our personal relationship with Christ should be our first and foremost life goal. So, how can we learn to start growing through life instead of just going through it? Well for starters, here is what David Worcester recommends, using the L.E.A.R.N. tool he designed for us.
The first practice he gives us in this set of tools is to listen to wise people. Worcester tells us that we should take care to listen to people we aspire to be like. In this case, listening to audiobooks or sermons by reputable, theologically accurate pastors and teachers is a good start (I personally recommend David Platt, John Piper, and Dr. David Jeremiah, just to name a few). The Berean Jews in Acts 17:11 are an example of how good listeners become good life-long learners. “They received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” The aspect of listening and putting it into practice is important because it will not do us any good if we don’t take care to study and cross-examine what we’re taught for the sake of accuracy and understanding.
The second practice Worcester applies to these tools is to evaluate experiences. In other words, an experience itself might be good, but for us to take away valuable lessons, it helps for us to pause and reflect on what was learned from the experience.
Asking questions is the third, and probably one of the most helpful and applicable practices in this set of tools, in my opinion. Although it's probably one of my weakest points in learning too, ironically enough but don’t ask why (pun intended) because I don’t think I can give a valid enough reason. Worcester notes, “Your growth is largely determined by the quality of questions you ask and the wisdom of those you ask. If you ask the right people the right questions, you tend to get the right answers.” Jesus was a prime example of one who asks questions for the sake of learning and understanding, as seen in Luke 2:46-47 when his parents find him in the synagogue among the religious leaders.
Next, we should practice reading good books. But not just any good books (because romance novels and science-fiction won’t do). Like listening to wise people, we need to take care when choosing what information we want to consume. Being an avid reader myself, here’s something that I found helpful from Worcester when I need something good to read. “The most important thing about a book is not what it teaches you, but what it stimulates in you.” Information is great but it’s even better when the information stirs up conviction or motivation to put it into action and make a change.
An example of a good book is one that I read early last summer called Tactics by Greg Koukl. One thing it teaches us is how we as Christians can make friendly conversation with non-Christians by simply asking them questions about why they believe what they believe. And if they’re open, we can even ask them if they would like to know why we believe what we believe (something our CoMission staff does on a regular basis with students at USFSP). Talk about taking the practice of asking questions to a whole other level!
Finally, the last practice Worcester gives us in the L.E.A.R.N. tool is to never stop learning. “As long as your mind is working, every day can have the adventure of learning something new!” Remember how I mentioned last week at the beginning of my blog post that there are two things I believe can never be perfected (life and medicine)? Well, I don’t think those could be any closer to the truth, especially when it comes to life itself. If we choose to keep learning for the sake of growing, especially in our walk with Christ, life is chock full of adventure and meaning.
“To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of
To receive the instruction of
Justice, judgment and equity;
To give prudence to the simple,
To the young man knowledge and
A wise man will hear and increase
And a man of understanding will
attain wise counsel,
To understand a proverb and an
The words of the wise and their
The fear of the LORD is the
beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and