……is one who thinks they know it all and have no more need to learn.
We all have our areas of expertise whether we realize it or not (and that my friends is another area for discussion at some point as I see so many people that think they are good at nothing….blog post for another day), but we should never forget that we have more to learn. Let me give a few examples.
Learn your profession
I’m a professional software developer by trade with 20+ years of professional experience, not to mention years before that as a teenager learning and working on projects on my own time. I’ve worked in basically the same technology for the last 10+ years (see another blog that I maintain occasionally, lautzofdotnet.wordpress.com). I still learn something new everyday, in fact, I strive to learn something new everyday. In the technology industry, things change constantly, if I don’t keep up, I become stale and irrelevant. If I don’t keep on top of technology, I get left behind.
My coworkers whom I manage, are very good developers themselves. I may have more experience than they do, and while I am able to assist them in their learning, I learn from them all the time. In fact that is one of my favorite things about my job; I get to learn each day and am surrounded by people that can help me along.
I also get to educate. My range of experiences has helped others I’ve worked with grow themselves. That is something I’m passionate about; helping others learn. That doesn’t always mean standing up in front of a class and teaching, it may not even mean interacting with people directly. People watch you every day and learn from your example…..pray that it’s a good one.
Learn and grow in life
I was humbled a few weeks back when a person that I’ve known for years as your children have played sports together since they were young approached me at a sporting event and out of the blue let me know what a great marriage my wife and I have and what a great example we are to her and others.
At first I was surprised. I know I have a good marriage, my wife and I love each other intensely. But I didn’t realize that anyone knew that besides her and I and I didn’t think that we were that exceptional that others would need to comment on it.
My next thought was one of pride. I think we work hard at our marriage and it felt good to be recognized. I could have stopped there and walked away feeling all puffed and happy about how good we were doing.
But alas, and this is actually a good thing I think, I suddenly became aware that “Gee, others are watching and using us as an example.” They are learning from what we do, good or bad. I realized the burden and responsibility we had to make sure we actually HAVE a good marriage. Others are watching. They are watching us in our good times and they are watching us in our bad times. If we aren’t reacting positively when things go bad or we are in a difficult season in our marriage, people see that and are influenced by that.
And finally I realized, “Wow, I still have a lot to learn about being a good husband and partner to my wife,” and we’ve been married for over 20 years. I realized I don’t know it all, I can learn so much more yet. I’m not finished in my growth as a husband and I never shall be.
Grow in faith
Well you probably knew I would be going here. How could I not? Your faith, your walk with God (or lack thereof), influences every part of your life… personal, relational, professionally…..everything. I grew up in a Christian home and while I was versed in Christianity, I haven’t always been a strong follower. But regardless of where I was in my walk, I had read the Bible many times, I knew the stories, I had heard many commentaries from different preachers over the years and thought I knew it all.
A few years back when I came stronger in my faith and began a more deliberate walk with God my wife and I were part of a small group. A small group of couples of similar age and interests. We met every couple weeks in one of our homes for fellowship and Bible study. One meeting as we were deciding what to study next, we came upon the idea that each of guys (there were four couples at the time) would pick a man of influence in the Bible and present a little study on him to the rest of the group (and the women would pick a woman of influence to do the same).
I chose Jonah, I don’t really recall why. I think it may have been just out of laziness. It’s a relatively short book in the Bible and everyone knows the story of Jonah….I thought it would be easy. I had read the story of Jonah and heard it taught so many times that I figured I could recite it from memory and my work would be done.
It’s funny how God works sometimes, but God used that moment and that study of Jonah to teach me a valuable lesson. One that I hadn’t heard in all those years of hearing and reading that story. That lesson could be a good topic for a series of posts themselves, which perhaps I’ll do someday. But in a nutshell, I learned that no matter how much we try to run and hide from God, he is there with us. He is in control always, even if we deny him and wish to walk the other way. But the other side of the story, and perhaps my true lesson, was that no matter how far we walk from God, nor the punishment that we may endure…..God will not be diverted from His plan. And if God wishes to use us in some powerful way, we can still go on and be a powerful force for God as Jonah was after he left the belly of the fish (Note: the last part of the book of Jonah where he finally does God’s work is usually the part we skip over)
Had I thought I had learned everything I needed to know about Jonah, I would have missed out on a great truth that God gave me at that moment in time.
Never sit idle regardless of what you do for a living, or where you are in your life. Always be learning, it keeps your mind active and engaged when it otherwise may become weak. Never accept that you have nothing left to learn in an area that you are an “expert” in. God gave us these wonderful brains and gave us such a beautiful and complex world that learning opportunities are endless. Take advantage of them.