I have often heard students talk about being eager to graduate so they can stop studying and start doing. While I am eager to graduate in my own current studies, it is a mistake to look forward to a time where studying is finished. I believe that no matter what our vocation, it is important to be a lifelong learner.I believe that no matter what our vocation, it is important to be a lifelong learner. Click To Tweet
While I realize that it is not always possible to remain in a formal education environment, there are plenty of opportunities to keep the learning process going. In fact I would say that completing a degree should have opened our eyes to how much we do not know. By the time we get our diploma, we are just figuring out the questions rather than having found all the answers.
Read my Thinking Faith column: Is theological education a faith-killer?
I come at this from my own context as a pastor, apologist and Bible teacher. There is so much to know yet, but I am excited about the things that I am learning about every day.
Here are five ways you can intentionally become a lifelong learner.
- Read books. That seems rather obvious but I think that it is important to be intentional with what we read. It is not just about reading the latest bestseller. I try to read both in my area of specialization (apologetics/New Testament) but also to read widely in any areas. I read books on theology, philosophy, history, writing, and so on. You can find my current reading list on the sidebar of this blog.
- Listen to podcasts. My iPhone is one of my best friends. I am currently subscribed to twenty podcasts. Like my books, I listen to podcasts that are directly related to what I do, such as pastoral leadership and apologetics, but also listen to podcasts in other areas to broaden my knowledge.
- Listen to audio courses. Many universities record the audio (and sometimes video) of their courses. You can listen to a full semester’s course on almost any subject for free. You can find some here. They are a tremendous resource.
- Take a course. I know that I have a problem with ongoing education, being currently on my fifth university degree. But I’m not talking just about working toward a degree. You can just take a course for interest’s sake. It could be an on campus course or a distance education course. If you are not worried about accreditation (meaning you do not need it for your career), there are plenty of affordable and flexible options.
- Spend time with smart people. Despite all my schooling, one of the most educational opportunities I had was pastoring at a small country church in a rural community. I knew nothing about farming and so at our men’s breakfast I would keep my mouth shut and just learn about farming from the farmers. You can do this for any subject. There are people in your life that know things you don’t know and you can learn from them. You can do the same for others.
The important thing is that you should never shut down the learning process. Commit to be a lifelong learner and choose the options that work with the stage of life you are in right now.