permission to learn (1)

>> May 4, 2011

Adel Torres writes from California, where she is wife to Pastor Jose, mother to toddler Toby, and is expecting baby #2 later this year. She is a missionary at heart, and spent time in India, Nepal and other countries before marrying a pastor in the States. This series of posts was originally published on Adel's blog "This Journey, My Home", where she writes about her life, insights, and mission stories. 

We recently sat down for a visit with a family friend who has been a great source of wisdom and support in our lives. As we chatted about life’s challenges, he told us about his early days as a teacher in a junior high classroom.

“When I started teaching,” he said, “I made it a point to establish right from the beginning that I was the teacher and THEY were the students.” He laughed, “Those kids spent the rest of the year making me a student!”

He went on to explain, “It wasn’t until I realized I didn’t have all the answers that I gave myself permission to learn.”

In fact, now in his work with teens, he makes it a point to listen most distinctly to the most difficult ones, because he believes they have the answers that will help him understand how to minister to others.

It reminded me of something I once heard said by Pastor Clarissa Sproul. If you have committed yourself to be a student of God, she says, you better realize that every situation in life is a potential learning opportunity. That means every PERSON in your life is your teacher! Every single person.

That challenged my thinking.

I thought I was pretty teachable, but when I started going through the list of “difficult” people in my life, I discovered a whole university's worth of potential teachers that I wasn’t especially comfortable with.

EVERY person?

That includes the Critical Church Member. The Schizophrenic off the street. The Guy who’s beliefs sound heretical to mine. The Difficult Family Member. And my own Spouse—ouch!

So what exactly is preventing me from being willing to learn in these situations?

There are a number of reasons any of us might refuse to learn, and that's what this series of posts is about. 

(To be continued...)

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