The Great Commission has not called us to make converts, but disciples. (Matthew 28:19-20) The words “make disciples” in our English Bibles come from a Greek word (matheteuo ) that means, “to become a pupil; instruct or teach”. Jesus is calling us to teach other people what it means to follow him. In order to teach others, we must also be committed lifelong learners of what it means to follow the Lord.
By setting a priority on learning, we position ourselves to benefit from all of life’s circumstances regardless of how pleasant or difficult. Paul the Apostle said that he learned to be content in all circumstances. He also learned how to be empowered by God’s strength in tough times. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12)
Personally, I am often at fault for setting goals that are oriented strictly around an accomplishment or objective. In doing so, I fall short of God’s greater purpose for my life which is to learn and grow in Christlikeness. (Romans 8:29)
For example, I may have a goal of launching a new ministry or leading a team on a mission trip. Both of these goals may be good, godly and Spirit directed. However, in seeking any God inspired goal, you find there are many obstacles along the way. When you put on the mindset of being a lifelong learner, you see these goals through a different set of lenses.
Instead of complaining to God, blaming the devil or being frustrated with difficult people, you can simply ask the question, “What is God trying to teach me through this situation?” In doing so, the situation has become subject to me, not me to it. Now the circumstances are simply an object lesson through which the Lord is going to tutor me in life and faith. I become a curious student instead of becoming a frustrated pilot.
Let’s make this lesson extremely practical and one that you can learn from even today. Take a sheet of paper and fold it in half. On the left side, write down all the areas in your life that are pulling on your emotions. You can list those circumstances that are bringing you joy, sorrow, anger, fear, numbness or excitement. No situation is excluded. Boredom is no less a teacher than excitement, sorrow no greater than joy. Now on the opposite side of the paper write down the things you are learning from the situation at hand. Better yet, journal with God and ask the question, “Lord, what are you trying to teach me through this circumstance?”
When you make the determination to be a lifelong learner, you never find life being wasted or without purpose. You live to learn and you learn to live.