My life long field of study has been adult spiritual formation and development. I love researching about it, talking about it, teaching on it, and even attempting to live it out. I’ve done it at camps, churches, chapels, Bible Schools (both national and international), retreats, pulpits, class rooms, living rooms, training centers, for not-for-profit and for profit companies.
I got the bug shortly after I became a follower of Jesus’ and went on a youth crusade to a small town in western Kansas during my senior year of high school. I saw firsthand how the Holy Spirit might want to use me. My life has never been the same.
The single greatest help (and most difficult to admit) in this vocation of teaching on adult spiritual formation and development comes from a line I once heard from Henrietta Mears, “A teacher hasn’t taught until the student has learned.” Learning means change, and change is hard.
If you are an adult follower of Jesus you ought to take a hard look at that line again.
The question that rises to the top is, “How have I changed?” I don’t mean how many books have I read, how many classes have I taken, or how many conferences have I attended. Those might be good places for wonderfully correct information.
Change means I live differently than before, I have different motives than before, I see life in a bigger way than before, I respond to life around me different than before. But change only occurs because of an intrinsic motivation to want to change.
The purest and most powerful intrinsic motivation is love. Not trying to change in order to earn love or receive love but to live it, to give it, because we’ve already been loved. When we choose to love (God and neighbor) the Holy Spirit ignites the ability to love without reciprocity.
Change is hard.
It’s hard because most of us don’t believe we can be loved by God just as we are. When I want to change because I believe I am loved by God, just as I am, then I’m open to learning. I’m now open to allowing all that wonderful information to impact the deepest places of my soul rather than just stay in my head for the next trivia opportunity.
“A teacher hasn’t taught until the student has learned.” (Henrietta Mears) TWEET THIS
One of the goals of adult education is to remain a lifelong learner. In Christian circles the admonition is to remain teachable. I like those goals for my life. But I realize this goal means that I want to change, and change is hard. That’s why we see spiritual formation as a lifelong process. A class, a retreat, a book; these are all necessary to acquire information. The harder task to remain teachable is the desire to change. I will change to the degree that I experience Love.