Learning: A Prelude to Teaching (Part II)

By Barbara Howard of Independence, Missouri, USA

The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.  Isaiah 11:6

One of the most-difficult learning experiences for me has been to listen to people whose ideas seem completely different from my own. However, when I truly listen I realize their commitment and enthusiasm for their own point of view is much like my own.

So, rather than argue or turn off my listening, I am trying to learn to listen with my heart. If I do this, even though we still see the world differently, I can love and accept them in ways that were not possible before. Learning about them changes the way I look at them.

Learning can precede our teaching. Spending time with those different from ourselves in settings other than church can open doors for ministry. Spending time with those in other age groups can give us new insights about community. Learning and practicing the spiritual disciplines can teach us to recognize the leading of God’s Spirit more readily.

Every experience offers a chance to learn. In recent weeks we’ve had the blessing of many houseguests. (My neighbor suggested we were “overwhelmed with company,” but we assured her we were blessed with friends.) During these special times, while being grateful for this faith community that created such a web of associations, I realize how much our guests taught me about scripture, prayer, and the value of laughter and joy. They were my teachers and I the learner. I want to use these lessons in my ministry.

Look around. Who’s been teaching you?

Prayer for Peace:

Tender Shepherd, lead us as your lambs. May we realize the uncorrupted wisdom of children and humbly follow them to your peaceable kingdom.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Examining God’s Call to Me and to All

Each day this week reflect on God’s call in your life. Begin by prayerfully asking to recall particular moments when you have experienced God’s presence and invitation. Write in your journal or just quietly reflect on images and insights that come.

When has God seemed most real in your life? How and when has God called you to use your energies and gifts? When have you felt most deeply connected and responsive to God’s movement in your life? When have you felt disconnected or resistant to God’s call? How do your gifts and callings connect with the call of God you notice in your family members, friends, congregation, or community?

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will open myself to the ideas of others and humbly learn what I thought I already knew.

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