Teaching Others Things We Should

23 Nov

How does learning occur? It’s a simple question, yet it comes with a nuanced answer. If we look back at our own lives with an honest scope, we know that there was no singular way that knowledge was acquired. It was important to go to school and listen to lectures. Clearly, we learned things from such an event, though the success of Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader displays that we may not have learned (or at least retained) everything that was delivered.

As the Foxworthy-hosted game show exhibited, we do not merely achieve adulthood by retaining the information that was dumped upon us in elementary school. I would submit that we would achieve similar results if we asked questions from middle school, high school, or whatever education you received. I think this would even apply to classes that deal with industries we work with every day.

For example, I teach a real estate class for those attempting to get a real estate license in the state of Florida. This class is taught to people that want to get a real estate license. Upon teaching it, the students need to pass a couple of exams. Yet, if you polled the 100 most successful real estate agents, who have been in the industry for ten years, there would undoubtedly be portions of the test with which they struggle. (I use real estate as an example, but I believe, though I cannot prove, almost every industry would have similar results). Does this mean that those successful agents haven’t learned anything?

The reality is that we have a formal education and we have a functional one. There is certainly overlap, and I believe formal education is very important, but I would submit that book learning without any introduction to normal life can lead to situations like Adam from Blast From The Past finally understanding the rules for baseball he learned decades earlier. There must be a presence of a formal education, but that education is best enhanced when combined with real-world experiences that give it meaning.

That paradigm doesn’t cease to exist when we talk about the gospel. We must present the gospel, and we should do so succinctly and clearly. However, that presentation should be accompanied by a life that has focus, liturgies, actions, piety, and holiness that points them to that gospel. I think this is what is meant by the Francis of Assisi-attributed quote, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”

Our lives are always preaching to those with whom we live, work, and play. It’s a sermon that they hear loud and clear. When that sermon matches what we are saying with our lips, it produces an unmistakable message. It is the way most of us were educated. We had school teachers who poured into our lives. Then we had someone (or multiple someones) who took that knowledge and showed us how we could turn it into a career. Just as the lack of a formal education makes one look incompetent in general, despite his potential excellence elsewhere, so can a great life fall short if you never know or explain why you are the way you are.

The fact that my primary identity does not come from things I do is revolutionary when understood in my life. By the same token, the fact that our lives are coming to reflect that sanctified reality is a gift. We get to play a part in God bestowing that gift to others. My good friend, Bob Collins, used to say, “God uses the church to bring others to Himself! We get to be a part of it!” I think that doing so involves our focus, liturgies, actions, piety, holiness, and lives, in addition to our words.


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