Learning new disciplines requires planning and setting aside time to submit to whatever it is these practices may require of us. In fact, a good first step is to take some time away to think about it. You might say, “But, Jill, I need God to teach me humility. How do I put that on my schedule?” Well, perhaps you could plan a mission trip where you get your hands dirty in a challenging project that requires compassion. This may mean setting aside other pursuits, such as learning to water-ski or taking a course to gain new skills in your vocation. Or it could be that you go to your pastor or other church leaders and ask that you be empowered to exchange leadership or teaching opportunities for following and serving opportunities for a period of time. It may mean you take a self-learning theological study on the internet that will require submitting your life to some additional stress for a time. It is important that those who teach others also teach themselves. I don’t know what it will require in your case, but carefully consider the art you need to learn, and then submit to whatever time it takes to learn it.
It may be a matter of learning a skill or a character trait—gentleness, for example. Can you learn how to be gentle? Yes, you can learn how to be anything God wants you to be if you are teachable. Ask yourself, “How can I practice this character trait in my life?” Well, look around for a difficult person in your life. Most of us don’t have to look far. Think of your past dealings with this person. Have you been harsh, loud, or bossy? Have you been inflexible and unwilling to change tactics? Try gentleness. How? Submit to the Spirit’s working in you. Next time you talk to your difficult person, remember the Scripture that says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). It doesn’t mean that you allow this person to run all over you; it means you gently and firmly hold your ground, smile, and lovingly see that you are heard. That takes practice. But gentleness is a learned art.
They say old dogs can’t learn new tricks. Well, I am an old dog, and I’m still learning new tricks—but only insofar as I submit myself to the learning process, admit that I need to learn whatever is necessary to make me more mature in Christ, and make sure that I learn the how-tos as well as the principles of daily Christian living.
Just Between Us Magazine