Last week we talked about the power of study, today I’d like to talk about the act of learning. One enhances the other. Today though, I want to look at the pursuit of new knowledge itself.
As adults, it’s easy to spend time with only those things that give us enjoyment we’re familiar with. That’s perfectly fine within limits, however we don’t have to limit ourselves to what we already know. Previously, if you wanted to learn a new skill, you would have to take a class, or read a book, both of which are still valuable. The problem is, people lead busy lives, and they may not have the time or the money for those options.
What we do have available to us are more free tools than ever before. Libraries of information are open to us. These are not only the physical books and buildings we grew up with, but digital ones as well. Wikipedia, YouTube, Kahn Academy are all free resources to learn a new skill. Whether it’s about history, a new hobby, or another culture. Even the public libraries now offer eBook apps that enable us to make time for learning without an appointment.
Learning is important for three reasons. First, it adds value to our lives. We expand our minds when we take in knowledge. Every human, no matter how they did in school, no matter how insecure they are about their own intelligence, can learn something. I also believe that every one of us has a talent of some kind, it’s only a matter of finding what it is.
If you are insecure about your intelligence, if you did struggle in school, I challenge you to learn one fact a day that you didn’t know before. At the end of each week, if you’ve only retained one of them, you’ve learned something new. You’ve also proven to yourself that you are smarter than you believed you were. Your self-worth has been increased, you’ve learned something about yourself in the midst of learning something new.
It will give you a new outlet. Boredom is something very sneaky, it can be a gateway to depression. The more you know, the more avenues you have to travel, leaving that sense of ‘everything is the same’ behind. A new outlet will open your point of view to how others see things.
If you are a mathematician, try learning about art, or vice versa. Place yourself in a different scenario, and see how others would get out of a situation. It will add insight and perspective that you couldn’t of had before. Many times the answer to solving a problem is by knowing how to view it from a different angle.
Second, it will add value to others. Your new confidence, skill, and viewpoint will be an example to others. Your children, co-workers, and friends may be inspired to enhance their own education by following your example.
It’s not that you are flaunting your new knowledge, when we do this it’s more about arrogance than learning anyway. It’s that you are saying, “If I can do this, so can you. I’m no Einstein, but I can improve my mind by learning about him.” The most detrimental attitude comes from a feeling of the inability to learn. If you can counteract that in the eyes of a child, you are a true hero.
Thirdly, and as important as anything else, it will remind us that we as humans, will always be students. Too often in life, if we’re not careful, we can think that we’ve learned everything we need to know. When we think that, we unintentionally withdraw from learning, shutting ourselves off from a wonderful world of opportunities. If we were under 18, we’d call this a drop out.
If we’re over 18, we are tempted to simply say I’m too old to learn anything new. When that happens, we are once again dropouts. We withdraw from new horizons, climbing higher mountains, experiencing sunrises that we haven’t seen before. Learning lifts us, leads us, and allows us to lend more of ourselves to others.
Every skill I have, everything new that I learn adds value to me, to those around me, and honors our Creator. The very act of learning says, I am smart enough to know that I have more to learn. A teachable spirit will never grow arrogant or indifferent. It will always be a willing heart, ready to listen, to grow, and to share.
Bishop Spencer McCool Senior is one of the finest Ministers that I’ve ever met. On top of all of his Scriptural knowledge, he knows how to work on electrical wiring, plumbing, and numerous appliances. These aren’t skills that you would immediately associate with his calling, but he’s made the difference in numerous people’s lives with them. He does this, not for profit, but to benefit others. To help those who don’t have the same skills that he has.
When we first moved into our home, we couldn’t afford to call a plumber to fix our kitchen’s water problems. Bishop McCool, our Pastor’s Father-In-Law, happened to be in town. They told him about our predicament, and he volunteered to help. He is a man that has guided my soul in numerous decisions in my life, and was now blessing our home.
Bishop did this out of love, and because he had the knowledge. How many times have we made the statement, “I would help if I knew how to …?” In this day when learning is just a podcast or video away, how much more could we learn that would add value to ourselves and our loved ones?