Robert Fulghum famously titled a book, “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” It is a great title, but a lousy philosophy of life. There is much to be learned after kindergarten- algebra, geology and how to cook a good steak, to name a few.
The best leaders are life long learners. They don’t stop learning after school ends. They don’t believe they possess they sum of all knowledge or that what they currently know is sufficient. They ask questions, seek information and try new things.
Christian leaders especially need to continue to learn. Our calling cries out for continuing education- formal and informal. We would do well to keep studying, thinking and searching. There is much for us yet to learn about God’s word, his plans and the ministry he calls us to.
Perhaps, like me, you finished kindergarten long ago. But here are five reasons ministry leaders need to continue to learn as long as God gives us life and breath.
1. We keep learning because there is much to learn. The subject matter of our ministry is our infinite God. We will never learn all there is to understand about his nature, glory and goodness. The textbook of our ministry is the bible. It is massive and a lifetime of study will not begin to fully comprehend its wisdom. Applying the truth of our infinite God and his incredible word is a daunting task. We have so much to learn that studying for a lifetime is our only reasonable course.
2. We keep learning because our calling is so vital. Ministry is no small thing. Teaching God’s word is an awesome task. Serving in the name of Jesus is a magnificent calling. Doing great things takes great preparation and great understanding. If you take ministry seriously– and you should– you will want to learn all you can about it. You will want to be truthful in your teaching and faithful in your calling. This is too important to do in a mediocre fashion.
3. We keep learning because our world and culture is always changing. The truth does not change, but the context of our ministry changes all the time. The culture of my own country is changing so rapidly that I feel more like a cross cultural missionary than ever. How do I teach the truth to people who have been taught there is no objective truth? How do I teach bible stories to those who have no biblical background and maybe not even a bible? Questions like these require me to study, learn and think. And cultural changes don’t seem to be ending any time soon.
4. We keep learning because we want to be more effective. It is not enough for us to be faithful in ministry, though this is an indispensable part. We also want to be fruitful. We care about the people to whom we preach and teach and serve. We want them to know the Lord, follow the Lord and begin to serve the Lord themselves. Continuing to learn is a way we can continue to be effective. Learning is a means by which we effectively accomplish the tasks God gives us. We want to preach and teach and evangelize and disciple and plant churches well. So, we need to study and learn and understand well.
5. We keep learning because we want to bring glory to God. We can glorify God with our minds as well as our hands and our feet. The Lord gave us intellects so we can use those intellects to glorify him. Study is a means by which we can more fully know the Lord and, by knowing him, more fully glorify him. Our ministry is not for our personal enrichment (though that is a byproduct) but a means by which we can glorify our Lord who so richly deserves glory. Learning is a means by which we worship. The more we learn of the Lord, the deeper our worship becomes.
Keep learning. Find out more of what God wants for you and from you. Kindergarten was great but it wasn’t the end. There is more to know and more to do and more to become. Learn something today!