Posted in Personal Development

Learning with Preschoolers

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I just enjoyed a wonderful week of vacation. My husband and I flew to Los Angeles to spend time with our daughter, son-in-law, and twin granddaughters. Almost four years old, my granddaughters are full of energy and creativity. They are joyfully curious, and passionately explore the world around them. Being with my granddaughters is sheer delight. Their zeal for life is contagious. Each moment is filled with learning, either through experience or instruction.

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One moment they learn about the qualities of sand, how to build towers just the right size to support imaginary flags made of leaves.

Another moment they are coached by their mother to face their fears. “Being brave doesn’t mean that you are never afraid. Sometimes it means feeling afraid and doing something any way.”

“Oh, that was good!” I think to myself. “I really needed to hear that.” (How did my daughter become so wise?)

I also got to see my sweet grandson who lives in Seattle with my son and daughter-in-law. At five months old, everything goes from his hands into his mouth. He literally practices “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8, NIV).

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Every time I am with my grandkids, I am reminded to open my mind and heart to discovery. We have all heard that we are never too old to learn, but do we really believe it? Something happens the longer we journey into adulthood. Perhaps we get so engrossed in our routines of “adulting” that we lose sight of life long learning. What can we do to return to the adventure?

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10).

Our reverence and awe of the Lord is just the start of wisdom. We are told to “get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you (Proverbs 4:7-8). There is so much to discover about the Lord. Though we seek to know Him our entire lives, we will just barely scratch the surface of His glory.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Transformation is on-going. Renewing our mind is a continual process.

But the on-going nature of being transformed and becoming who God designed us to be does not need to be drudgery. We can thrive as we seek to grow personally, in our skill levels, in relationships, as leaders, and in faith. Let’s be open for God to teach us through ordinary moments in our daily lives. Let’s follow the lead of the preschoolers and learn with joy.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I want to learn more about You. As I grow in You, empower me to answer Your call in life and as a leader. Teach me Your ways, and restore the joy of learning. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Posted in Personal Development

Keep Learning No Matter What

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” This phrase is generally used as an excuse for being too old to learn a new skill or habit. It may be true for a dog, but it doesn’t have to be true for us. In fact, no matter how old or educated we might be, we should always seek to learn and grow. How sad it is to be around others who are so set in their ways that they refuse to listen to new or different ideas. It isn’t just “the old folks” with this kind of attitude. There are plenty of “young ones” that fit in the closed mindset category, too.

People that thrive in life and as leaders are poised to learn. Learning leads to creativity and the ability to innovate. Being stagnant is draining to relationships. Maintaining the status quo is damaging to business. Growth and vitality come from the willingness and ability to change as needed.

Twenty-five years in non-profit ministry has shown me there isn’t just one right way of doing things. God’s Word remains the same, but there are a varieties of ways to express it. Just when a system is perfected, it’s time to tweak it to address a situation that arises. Thirty years of marriage has taught me that I need to find new ways to connect with my husband to keep our relationship solid. Resting on our laurels will take us to a dangerous place. We can’t just pat ourselves on the back because we’ve gained so much experience. We need to keep moving forward.

Transformation is produced from the consistent, on-going application of knowledge, whether it comes directly from the untarnished truths of God’s Word or from wise principles spoken by others.

We don’t have to go to school in order to learn. I enjoy academics and I love reading. However, I have found people to be the greatest resources for learning and transformation.

Mentors are older than I am or have walked where I want to go. They are farther along the road of life and can share their experiences. I recently had the opportunity to meet a former Executive Director of the organization I currently lead. She resigned 10 years ago. Things have changed remarkably since she was at the helm. However, I listened intently to her stories of how God met financial needs in the midst of difficult times. She inspired me, and showed me a dimension of faith I hadn’t seen before.

Reverse mentors are younger than I am and don’t have the breadth of experience that I have. However, they possess specific skills that I lack (i.e. social media savvy), or they have a particular perspective I want to understand. So they mentor me in an area I want to grow. The majority of people my organization serves are between the ages of 15 – 29. It’s important to connect with our clients. By engaging in conversations with young adults, I learn about their mindset, beliefs, and values. The knowledge helps me serve our clientele better.

Learning from others is enhanced when I glean from people that are different from me. Rather than surrounding myself only with people that agree with my beliefs or point of view, I welcome alternate opinions and ideas. Differences don’t need to create tension or alarm. Instead I try to look for principles that are beneficial. At the very least I come away with deeper understanding of somebody who is incredibly valued and loved by our heavenly Father, whether or not they know Him. As a committed follower of Christ, I took two classes in Eastern religion and philosophy for my undergraduate degree. I enjoyed robust conversations about a worldview quite different than my own. As a result, I emerged better equipped to be a Christian and live out my faith than before.

No matter your age or how much experience you have, remain teachable. Be open to the Lord and expect Him to use many kinds of teachers.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7).

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding (Proverbs 4:5-6).

Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
teach the righteous and they will add to their learning (Proverbs 9:9).

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gifts of wisdom and knowledge. Help me never feel that I have arrived, but rather seek to learn, improve, and grow. May my ears be open to Your instruction as you use many people along life’s way. May I be transformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.