By Dr. Emily Dean, Coordinator of Women's Programs
“The Lord God has given Me the tongue of those who are instructed to know how to sustain the weary with a word. He awakens Me each morning; He awakens My ear to listen like those being instructed.” Isaiah 50:4 HCSB
“I know a lot, but I’m still learning.” In an effort to instill a teachable spirit in our kids, this phrase is repeated often in our house. As a mom, what’s most important to me is not so much how much my kids know, but how willing they are to be taught. If they keep a willing heart, they can always grow and learn. We live in a community of learning, and I absolutely love it. However, working and studying among scholars does not necessarily mean you are constantly learning. We must have hearts willing to be instructed.
I like the story of Apollos found in Acts (see Acts 18-19 for the full story). He was a guy who spoke passionately about Jesus, but he didn’t know the full story. When fellow believers Aquila and Priscilla invited him into their home to teach him the rest of the story about Jesus, he welcomed their teaching. He could have ignored them and kept right on teaching what he knew, but he was willing to learn more so that he could more accurately share the truth. The scripture says that it is not good to have zeal without knowledge (Proverbs 19:2), yet on the other hand, knowledge without love is just noise (1 Corinthians 13:1).
The truth is we need both. We need accuracy in handling the Word of God, and we need passion to share it. So how do we balance this need for both accuracy and passion?
1) Stay teachable – Maintaining a teachable spirit is crucial to growing as a disciple of Jesus. Whether you are new to the faith, new to seminary, or have multiple degrees, we all have the opportunity to start each day with a willing heart ready to learn what God wants to teach us. When we stop learning, we stop growing.
2) Stay fresh – What I love most about the Word of God is that it is “living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). I just love it when I read fresh truth from familiar passages of scripture. If they become too familiar, change up not what you read, but how you read it. As long as we have breath, there is always something new to learn!
3) Stay faithful – You may be on the other end with lots of zeal but overwhelmed with all you feel like you need to know. If this is your first semester in seminary, you may be in utter syllabus shock right now! It’s okay, take a deep breath. Take your time. As a culture we are not good at waiting. We expect everything to happen right now. Growing as a disciple is a daily process. Be faithful to meet with Jesus daily and He will be faithful to meet with you.
4) Stay focused – We are all called to do everything with excellence to the best of our abilities. So back to our friend Apollos. He didn’t know everything, but he gave it his all to teach what he did know. When he had opportunity, he learned more so that he could teach even more. Whatever God has called you to do, give it all you’ve got.
None of us are perfect at balancing zeal and knowledge. You may be struggling with too much of one and less of the other. The one thing we all can do is wake up each day ready “to listen like those being instructed.”