Learning, Growing, Teaching, Repeat

Though many of us feel incapable of teaching, life is a perpetual cycle of learning, growing, and teaching, repeated through generations. We see the pattern played out in virtually every aspect of our lives. In our homes, workplaces, educational centres, and sports arenas to name a few. In fact, every facet of understanding demands, at various levels, a willingness to learn, grow, and teach.

Most of us tend to shy away from formal teaching roles. However, we all have developed skills and obtained knowledge that others could greatly benefit from.

The sponge-like capacity for learning dominates the behavior of all children. Somehow as we grow older, we lose the inquisitiveness of childhood. If we become complacent, our knowledge base actually diminishes.

Recently someone said, “If you say you know when you don’t know, you will never know.” The statement exposes the unwillingness to learn will keep us from knowing what we desperately need to understand. Learning is the first step in all developmental processes.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
Psalm 32:8

Learning

The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.
Brian Herbert

Because God is the Creator of all things, He knows how everything works and functions. Wisdom leads us to look to Him to guide and direct our learning process. I’m not just talking about spiritual things. One God idea proves of more worth than all human wisdom.

A few months ago, I began to hold business meeting with God. I can’t tell you how many “God ideas” He has inspired! Though previously I constantly prayed and surrendered the aspects of my business, welcoming Him into these weekly meetings has transformed it in indispensible ways.

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.”
Psalm 25:4

I believe God waits in anticipation for us to turn to Him with a hunger to learn. He desires to teach us how to parent our children, how to create artistic designs, how to produce or repair mechanical things, how to overcome obstacles in relationships or workplaces, and how to establish healthy life patterns.

Nothing is “hard” for God! He has the answer for the most difficult problems we face. Whatever we are attempting to learn, God already possesses the knowledge and understanding for us. The choice to learn, He leaves with us.

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”
Psalm 86:11

Growing

Every expert started as a novice.

Often, learning includes a multitude of skills and abilities stacked, like building blocks, one upon the other. The process often takes many years of experience, including successes and failures.

I chalk up far more mistakes than successes. I have also learned a great deal from my mistakes. Failing at something is often as helpful as succeeding!

A significant portion of training assists others bypass our mistakes. It builds bridges so others don’t have to fall into the same river we almost drowned in.

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Philippians 4:9

This verse clearly illustrates the learning process: learning, receiving, hearing, and putting into practice. When we willingly stay humble and teachable, we open the doors to learn, receive, hear, and watch others to grow and develop even in areas which are personal weaknesses or deficiencies.

Nothing substitutes for practice. Practice! Then practice! And practice again! Anything we desire to develop our skill in will require practice. Growth will spring from our practice ground.

Teaching

Let’s not stop here! One more step completes the cycle — teaching.

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
Colossians 3:16

Oh course, God refers directly to teaching biblical truths. However, these principles apply to every aspect of life.

Only a smidgen of teaching is performed by “experts.” Everyone possesses knowledge and skill in any one of a number of areas. We have responsibility, before God and others, to share that knowledge.

Let us each consider for moment:

  • what skill am I developing
  • how could I share that skill with others
  • who might appreciate knowing this skill

Like music flowing from the heart, sharing our knowledge can and will become a joyous activity — Spirit-led songs flowing into the hearts of others

Repeat

“The best learning I had came from teaching.”
Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie Ten Boom recognized that as we pour ourselves out into the lives of others, we learn even more. We receive encouragement and inspiration to delve in deeper, improving our skills at a greater level.

The ultimate goal in everything we do is to draw others into a deeper relationship with God. The greatest learning, growing, and teaching comes from walking with others in their life journey. This side-by-side cycle of growth and development, both personal and corporate, offers ample opportunity to share faith.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
John 14:26

As the Holy Spirit teaches us, we teach others. Others will automatically learn from us as we learn from God. This incredible cycle of learning, growing, and teaching imparts a life-giving community of mutual benefit for everyone.

Let’s applaud where we are already successfully sharing skills. May we also seek God for knew ways to build bridges of understanding. May our greatest joy be in partnering with the Holy Spirit, leading people through ever-increasing circles of learning, growing, and teaching.

Bless you!

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The Power of Networking With People

The Power of Networking

Although connection and community have always been important, the power of networking with people is becoming increasingly significant.

We all seem to arrive upon the life’s landscape with an independent chromozone. Every parent has heard their little one unequivocally announce, “I do it myself!” Every parent has also watched the ensuing struggle to learn — often through scraped knees and bruised shins.

Hopefully, we all eventually realize life was never meant to be a solo journey. We overcome as we form strategic partnerships. We need others!

My natural introverted nature resists reaching out and developing the communities that God knows I need to successfully press beyond personal incapabilities.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”
Ecclesiates 4:9-10

Networking in the Workplace

As an author and communicator without formal training, I lean heavily upon pioneers who have paved the way. Old in years never guarantees wisdom or maturity. Those much younger may carry a wealth of knowledge and creative insight all would benefit from.

Pride might be the greatest inhibitor to developing strong workplace networks. Humility elevates and promotes each other for mutual benefit.

I have reaped the rewards from these workplace networks:

  • Enroll in courses and training modules.
  • Seek the critique of others.
  • Create support groups for mutual development and encouragement.
  • Openly and freely share knowledge.
  • Strive for team excellency.

Though it might seem counter cultural, our greatest success comes by advancing others. Let us develop a culture of promoting and applauding those around us.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
1 Corinthians 12:27

Jesus’ workplace revolved around ministry — ministry He could have easily accomplished alone. Yet, he chose to train and advance others, launching them into similar areas of ministry. The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, could easily be viewed as a manual for elevating and promoting others in the workplace. In everything He did, Jesus demonstrated the power of networking with people, even messed up people.

I would be amiss to not mention the faithful group of women who sacrifically promoted Jesus’ work. They supported Him financially and practically.

Networking in Community

Jesus maintained several layers of community, refusing to function in isolation. His circles included:

  • His three closest friends and collegues (Mark 9:2)
  • A slightly larger group of twelve shared ministry and life — eating and travelling together, even seeing Jesus exhausted, hungry, and pressured (Luke 6:12-16)
  • Seventy-two sat under His teaching and entered into ministry (Luke 10:1)
  • Finally, the crowds who followed were released from demonic possession, healed of diseases, and restored to relationships (Luke 14:25)

What are your community circles? Do you have a small group of close friends who walk beside you through ups and downs? Do you have a larger network of comfort and support among your family or church? Are you connected where you live, impacting the lives of others for the advancement of the Kingdom of God?

I recently read that the greatest human need is for connection. Without personal networks, we feel deprived and empty. Only in and through interconnected relationships will we achieve all God desires for us. The power of networking with people comes alive in integrated healthy community circles.

” . . . I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
John 17:20-21

Networking presents risks. As much as we need these networks, we have all been wounded or taken advantage of by communities that meant to assist and support. Within the context off community healing also effectively flows.

Networking in Prayer

I have vividly seen the value of many network communities. However, the greatest aspect of united agreement flows out of joint networking within prayer circles. Here again, we look to Jesus and those who followed Him.

  • Jesus took His eleven disciples with Him to the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32)
  • Eight stayed prayed from distance (Mark 14:32)
  • Three followed closer, overhearing His prayers and seeing His travail (Mark 14:33)
  • About one hundred and twenty of His followers waited in the upper room, continuously in prayer after his ascension (Acts 1:12-15)
  • The early church devoted themselves to corporate prayer (Acts 4:42)

Prayer networks require committment. I have learned to purposefully create prayer teams of support for the projects I work on. I also commit to network in prayer with women who mentor me as I mentor others. Our foundation is prayer. Christian churches and organizes also maintain local, national, and international prayer initiatives.

These prayer circles support while being supported. Nothing significant for God ever occurs apart from the power of networking in prayer.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Never too Busy to Network

One of the biggest excuses standing in the way of healthy networking is over-activity. To receive the full benefits of the power of networking, adjustments and prioritizing our schedules becomes essential.

The second hindrance to strong community networks might possibly be personal insecuity. One of the reasons I hesitated so long to begin a women’s group was the feelings of intimidation and insecurity. Gulp!!! By pushing aside our fears, past failures, and pride we will reap the benefits of amazing networks waiting for us.

Finally, everything Jesus taught ran countercultural. Networking is a prime example.

As application points, let’s look honestly (and without condemnation) at how we are personally interacting within networks.

  • Do I carry wounds from network communities that I need healing from?
  • What networks should I prioritize in work, community, and prayer?
  • Do I need to relinquish independence or insecurity to move into healthy communities?

“Lord Jesus, I ask You to knit us together into vibrant, healthy, thriving communities. Move us forward together so we all reach our ultimate potential and efficacy. I ask You to clearly demonstrate the power of networking Your way. Amen.”

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Building Community – The Purpose and Power of Connections

How do we genuinely comprehend the magnitude of God’s intention for networks of friendship, bonds of community, and genuine alliances of faith? Whenever I write about community, I am walking on foreign soil! I am like an explorer mapping freshly discovered territory with the intention of others following and traversing similar terrain into healthy community relationships.

Jesus The Example

For my answers I must turn to Jesus Christ. No other human exemplified both the purpose and power of connections as Jesus. Jesus remains the benchmark of excellence! He chose his followers from the most unlike candidates who were

at times highfalutin and oft cantankerous,
more than a little rag-tag mixed with a pinch of upper crust,
self-centered and self-promoting.

Creating unity in community!

How did he solidify in these men unparalleled power-filled connection that would be reproduced through generations in spite of the unending assaults of government, church and society?

“He appointed twelve that they might be with him
and that he might send them out to preach”
Mark 3:14

I realize any group, large or small, must be built on two strong legs in order to not only walk out faith, but have the capacity to run the race Christ has established. The first is love and the second is honour. Without both of these pillars, our journey together will be crippled and distorted.

The entire purpose and power of connections is based on these two ingredients: love and honour. Yet in multiple meetings with recognized leaders, few mention either!

Love

When asked what the greatest of commandments was, Jesus minced no words!

“… ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it:
Love your neighbour as yourself’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:36-40

A community of love and honour!

Paul would later dissect truth further in his letter to the Corinthians. He clarifies that without love, regardless of supernatural gifts and abilities, “I am nothing…I gain nothing”!

Any endeavour at building community without love is void and impotent.

I’m not talking about the here today and gone tomorrow shadow of  love, the touchy-feely, ooey-gooey imposter of love, or the make me “look good”, “feel good”, self-seeking mutation of love.

In true community love flows from the heart of the Father permeating every activity, conversation, discipleship, and connection. It bears repeating, without it we are nothing; we gain nothing!

Honour

When love is genuine, honour will also be sincere.

Pay to all what is owed to them:
taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed,
respect to whom respect is owed,
honor to whom honor is owed.”
Romans 13:7

Paul is writing concerning how to treat those in authority. Christ always went beyond the letter of the law manifesting the heart of truth. 

Community extends honour to all!

If the purpose of honour is to give merit, distinction or worth on the basis only of rank or status, it is a faint shadow of God’s intention, contradicting Christ’s example.

We see Jesus not just honouring people with title or position, but the lowly, despised, rejected, outcast members of His society. Honour is based not on social hierarchy, but the divine attribute and worth of being God’s image bearers.

When the heart of community is honour, it infiltrates every aspect of that community elevating each member. It is impossible to truly honour God without recognizing

  His likeness in every individual
and excellence in their personal uniqueness,
seeing purpose in His divine impartation
and gifts to His children,
while acknowledging His brilliance in every life.

By honouring the one, we honour the whole. In the honour of individuals, we honour the community.

Power of Community

The synergy of love and honour united this unlikely group of The Twelve into an undeniable re-presentation of Christ on earth.

If we believe that community is for the purpose of evangelism, we begin to treat people like a number on a list. If the attempt is keeping people from walking out the revolving back door of the church, community becomes a camouflaged prison of co-dependence. It is dangerous and deceptive to tag community’s primary purpose as discipleship. We cannot succumb to creating robotic reproductions full of knowledge and void of purpose.

Community - a fellowship of worth and purpose!

On the other hand, if every community is a fellowship of love and honour, each individual develops a sense of worth and purpose in their divine existence and calling.

People naturally encouraged and drawn into intimate relationship with Jesus
directly flows out of community.
The soil of community facilitates restoration and healing.
The wandering ones find a sense belonging.
Vibrant community environments release and develop gifts and abilities.

The united power of love and honour creates the fertile soil out which The Twelve became a hundred and the hundred became thousands, multiplying into a diverse and dominant worldwide movement unified for the glory of God.

Now that is genuine community!

“For everything comes from him and exists by his power
and is intended for his glory.
All glory to him forever!
Amen.”
Romans 11:36

Building community for the glory of Christ!

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Further Reading:

Friendship – Embracing Unity While Valuing Diversity

Top 4 Hindrances to Authentic Relationships

Building Relationships

Building healthy relationships is one of the short suits of my life. I have become stronger over the years, but I am still learning from my mistakes. Here are my top 4 hindrances to authentic relationships. I assure you my personal list could be longer!!!

“I’m Fine”

“How are you?” Pushing ourselves to trust and answer honestly may be scary, but truth is the only soil in which healthy relationships can truly grow. To strengthen friendship and community requires risk, a risk others may be unsure to take but worth giving a try ourselves.

The LORD detests lying lips,
but he delights in people who are trustworthy.
.”

(Proverbs 12:22)

I'm Fine

Being real with one another is worth peaking beyond our shells of self-protection. An authentic response may be the first step down the road of a life-long friendship. If things are going well, this is an opportunity to rejoice together; if you are ‘turtling’ your way through a tough season, genuine support and care may be directly in front on you.

“Calm Down”

Emotionally charged environments give tangible opportunity for honesty. Emotionally transparency is key within genuinely strong communities . We need to be able to listen attentively to the hearts of those around us without trying to filter everything around our own comfort zones, laying aside critical judgments and condescending attitudes.

Communication

Studies show that women, more than men, are “wired to quickly and accurately decode or detect distress.” This alone can cause problems with relating authentically in cross-gender circles. Just as the perception of one may create precipices of risk, the lack of accurate perception may allow for bulldozing attitudes in the other! Neither is intentional! Both must be overcome! Dictating when and how every conversation will flow results in emotional distancing. Tempering without hiding keeps us from damaging and distancing those around us.

We watch Jesus fully engaged emotionally: angry, sad, joyful, or moved with compassion. His complete honesty was an open door to enjoyed just “hanging out” with Him. He was real, but he was tempered.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech
but with actions and in truth.
.”
 (I John 3:18)

“If you would just [fill in the blank] then I would…”

Without question, it’s give-and-take in developing rock solid community. How do we treat others when they are not “carrying their load”?

Putting Others First

“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control…”
Galatians 5:22-23

There are several elements within the fruit of the spirit, that only exist in the context of going the extra mile in developing community; elements that require us to be initiators in developing a loving relationship, rather that reactors when the going gets tough.

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak
and not to please ourselves.
Each of us should please our neighbors for their good,
to build them up.

Romans 15:1-2

“I’ll do it Myself!”

Bossy

“Miss Bossy” may look cute in a picture but not in real life! Years of being a cattle producer gave daily examples of why these “four-leggeds” are often called bossy…

the first to the trough; the last to leave
maintain position at all cost
take the lead or lose it
challenge me and see what happens
muscle power!

The “I’ll do it myself” thoughts are blatant reminders of those days! Haughty superiority and need for control decapitates future opportunities to develop the team relationships needed in healthy community.

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,
but rather think of yourself with sober judgment,
in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

Romans 12:3

 Relationships Within Community

Community comes in many forms: a family, a leadership team, a small group or your workplace, just to name a few!

Ants go Marching

I am reminded of a walk with my children years ago. We came across an ant super-highway. It amazed us the strategy, precision and efficiency of this community of workers. Each stuck to the right side of the pathway as traffic was streaming different directions. Many struggled in the process of carrying loads disproportionately larger than they; other workers came and assisted in their struggle. For some time we crouched low, watching in amazement. Whether the worker was large or small, each shared the same mission.

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!
Proverbs 6:6

Only yesterday, a comment from one of my sons, reminded me how far I have to go in developing godly, authentic and loving community. Unfortunately, I am very much still a “work-in-progress” in this area!

__________

Meg Gemelli  was inspiration behind this blog. Thank you!)

__________

Related Articles:

Beatitudes – Encouragement and Instruction for Every Circumstance!

3 Relationships We All Need and The Reasons Why

 

My Call to Action – Living and Communing Authentic Relationships

My Call to Action

I don’t know about you but I find it challenging to live fully and freely in relationships with others while simultaneously remaining in communion with God. My call to action is living and communing authentically!

The other night, I had a vivid dream about several mountain ranges filled with high peeks. An outdoor deck nestled at the base of each mountain while a house perched solidly on the highest point. Halfway up the mountain was a “docking point” – a small out-shoot of metal.

As I viewed the sheer mountain face, I questioned how one would get from the deck to the house. Instantly, I whizzed above even the highest apex. Each mountain was a solid rock with unique and beautifully intricate marble-like veining.

Mountains

I knew that God was showing me three positions I could choose:

  • The first was on the deck, relaxing and enjoying the company of those around me
  • The second was at the top where a different kind of “dwelling” occurs! It is where I get to know God in reading the Bible, prayer, solitude, and lingering in His Presence.
  • But there is a third choice – neither up nor down! The place of “self” – disconnected from both God and others. This is the most precarious spot.

The longer I meditate on the dream the more truth it reveals of the life choices I have made and am making in relationships. Regrets, like heavy dew, settle on me as I think of how often I choose to sit in the “docking-point” – disconnected from others and trusting in the frailty of myself.

My Call to Action – Living and Communing Authentically

I feel God’s invitation to enter more transparently into the lives of all those around me while at the same time allowing Him the reins to draw me closer with Him. I can do neither in my strength or power.

To commune means to “share one’s intimate thoughts or feelings with…
especially when the exchange is on a spiritual level…
to feel in close spiritual contact with.”

To fully share life together has a spiritual dimension – not just in our relationship with God and but also with others.

Community

Living fully with others may include

praying together.
sharing spiritual truths and insights,
spurring others on in their faith journey
and relationship with Jesus,
trusting Holy Spirit together to lead and direct
our lives and ministry.

The Deck

I greatly enjoy “deck” times! Hanging out… relaxing... getting to know others… often laughing… sometimes crying… reminiscing…sipping lemonade on a hot day or hot chocolate on a cold one. Relationships with family and friends fill life with a rich hue of appreciation and growing respect.

Communing

My ever-expanding circle of  friendships are woven intricately with threads of  Jesus Christ and the fullness He brings. The deck is where I introduce Christ to people!

The Mountain

I long to live continually on the mountain. Here is where my heart rests, my body restored and my mind renewed. Clothed in the full forgiveness of Christ, I approach His throne of grave,

listening and speaking,
waiting and resting,
rising early and lingering late,
fully me wrapped in Holy Him
with childlike freedom
warrior courage
maturing faith
breathing deep
trusting more…

“No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another,
Know the Lord.’ because they will all know me.”

Hebrews 8:11

The first “know” in this verse means a growing kind of knowledge, to come to know and to know personally.

The second “know” is a different word meaning to perceive, to know absolutely, to have complete knowledge of.

Mountain

The mountain is where I come to know the Triune God more fully and personally and where I pray for people!

The Dock

In the middle is a desolate place! It is the place of neither hot nor cold. (Revelation 3:16) The place of disconnect with God or others! I  have the option  to go, stop or even stay here. It is the forty years in the desert place. The place where no one really wants to stop, yet where all will at some point.

Alone

Every moment is a choice  –  a choice about where I will live and commune. Will it be the deck, the mountain, or the dock? True authentic living always breathes life of God into people. Always!


Authentic Living

Lord draw me to the place of richer and deeper
fellowship with those around me.
where I am neither ashamed or afraid to
share how much You mean to me.
Lift me up, Lord, to my true resting place
the place where I can see beyond believing,
feel completely and fully,
and be fully known and loved.
Both require a level of vulnerability that
I try to avoid, but must maintain.
I ask for courage and grace to live fully
and authentically!

Want to check out other blogs about living in healthy relationships?

3 Relationships We All Need and The Reasons Why

Top 4 Hindrances to Authentic Relationships