Tuesday, September 16, 2008
My wife has always liked taking pictures. I've often encouraged her to take a class on photography. For Mother's Day this year I surprised her with her own laptop (something I regret at times!) Besides feeding me a lot of information about news items and world events she has mastered the use of Picasa2. With the use of scanners and pictures from digital cameras she has put together many of our photo albums in a convenient way which makes finding our family and vacation pictures really easy. Picasso is like her new hobby. Good for her.
Whether our growth be accademic or a new hobby, growth should characterize each of us. I believe one of the joys of life is the pursuit of knowledge. To be sure, the Bible says that the greatest knowledge is to know and honor the Lord (Prov. 1:7). Yet, many folks allow days, weeks, and months to go by without a plan to grow as individuals.
Growth is for everyone. For example, Christian leaders who want to influence positive movements and change, must be readers. Many leaders know this addage:"If you want to lead you must learn. If you want to continue to lead, you must continue to learn" (John Maxwell, Leadership Gold, 126). Growth, however, must be intentional. Take for example our kids. Most kids must be helped to consider the importance for intellectual growth. At the beginning of a new school year many are still on summer mode. Parents intent on their children's education will be sure to help them shake off the slumber and get going on the new academic year. Yet, many adults will go through life and forfeit the pleasures of discovery because they have not developed a passion for knowledge and growth.
My pastor is leading our staff through a study of Leadership Gold. Last week we discussed the chapter which dealt with the topic of becoming lifelong learners in order to continue becoming effective leaders. In his book, Maxwell states that "the greatest obstacle to discovery isn't ignorance or lack of intelligence. It's the illusion of knowledge" (127). When you're young you think you have things figured out pretty well. After a few years you know better. Remember Socrates? He once said: "I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing." I like that. That's why I'm always trying to hear for new ideas and learn from the perspectives of others on issues. We can often learn from the gleanings, insights, experiences and knowledge of others. Maxwell says it like this: "Teachability, is essential for being a continual learner."
By nature I'm inquisitive and I enjoy learning, even what some would consider trivial facts like, how much longer is Florida than Cuba. But, I also love to consume many areas of knowledge, including of course, theology, philosophy, history, leadership, the life of the Church, and lately, yes, tennis. In order to be a lifelong learner, however, we need a plan, and having someone more knowledgable than you around is also helpful. Think about new areas of knowledge you can dive into. Think about deepening your understanding of matters you only know little about. Read a book each month. Take a class. Whatever you do, be intentional about developing a personal growth plan.
Maxwell again gets it right: "The secret to success can be found in people's daily agendas. If they do something intentional to grow every day, they move closer to reaching their potential. If they don't, their potential slowly slips away over the course of their lifetime" (125). Second, if possible, find others who are further along than you in a certain area that you want to really grow in. This can come through personal meetings with others, attending conferences, or through reading materials written by a particular author on a specific subject. Maxwell again states: "Being around people who are better than we are has a tendency to make us stretch and improve ourselves. That is not always comfortable, but it is always profitable" (131).
Finally, get out and share what you are learning. Would you believe it if I told you that I'm teaching several people how to play tennis? (Well, maybe "teaching" is too strong of a word.) Imagine me teaching tennis? Yes, it's true that sometimes I'm not sure what I'm doing on the court, especially when I play more experienced players who remind me of how little I know. Yet, that's okay because I do know a few things. As I continue to grow I can begin to pass along the information and the techniques that I'm accquiring. And this too is part of why we want to continue growing and learing throughout life. It's not only about ourselves, and about experiencing God's creation and the pleaures of knowledge before us. It's also about the people you can take along for the ride. It's about enriching others as well.
For years in middle school and high school the light of acquired knowledge shinned dimly in my life. But something changed. Besides the spiritual impact of having my life touched by God during my senior year, something else was ignited within my soul: A thirst for knowledge. A thirst to understand how the world turns. A growing appetite to learn about the wonders of life, of the animal kingdom, of astronomy, history, all things God.
Picasa2 is a great computer program. I especially get a kick from seeing my wife's ability to juggle around pictures and place them in the order she wants. I hope you too well have the light switch of knowledge turned on in your life. Read, understand, grow, and share. In whatever area, be it academic, hobby, or sport, become a lifelong learner!
Por Su Gracia y Poder (By His Grace and Power)