Early in my marriage, my wife and I made a pact that we would take turns studying. In our 27 years of marriage, there have been only a scant handful of years when neither of us were students.
This article is supposed to be about the importance of staff development. However, if we develop a good attitude towards lifelong learning, we would not need to be convinced about staff development and instead eagerly seek it out.
I think that lifelong learning is important because learning is a Christ-like activity. Jesus was found at the temple learning from the teachers (Luke 2:46). He had a thirst for learning and was humble enough to listen to the teachers in the temple. Paul encouraged the Corinthians to follow him as he followed Christ (1 Cor 11:1). He had the humility to learn from Christ and he wanted that same attitude from them. Proverbs 1:5 and 9:9 reminds me that a wise and righteous person is willing to learn.
Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. — Proverbs 1:5 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. — Proverbs 9:9
Paul encouraged Timothy to devote himself to teaching (1 Tim 4:13). The implication is that there must be those willing to learn. I have been blessed by the teachers and theologians I have studied under. They were called by God to teach and I honour them by being eager to learn. And in doing so, I honour God by affirming his calling on their lives.
Secondly, it honours the people I serve. They deserve the best that I can give them. Almost every profession has a programme of professional development and continuous learning. Professionals are expected to keep up with the latest developments in the field. No one wants a doctor who isn’t current with the latest medical knowledge and advances. Surely Christians called into ministry should be no less diligent in our development and learning. There are new fields in theology, new knowledge in Biblical studies and new skills to acquire.
Finally, it is incarnational in my ministry with students. I am a student as they are students. I understand and can relate to the stress of assignment deadlines and reading load. By studying, I can relate my studies to my faith and help them to do so too. If I invite them to study the Bible, I must be ready to show them I take this task seriously too. Ministering to tertiary students, I want to be ready to give them answers that are at least as sophisticated and complex as what they will encounter in class. For that to happen, I must be willing to learn and to also improve my teaching skills.
Board Chairman, ISMNZ