Studies have shown that learning new things keeps your brain healthy; in the same way, learning more about ourselves, our faith, and our God keeps us spiritually healthy. A faith that fails to reflect, learn, and grow will decay, and as our spiritual health atrophies, so will our relationship with God.
It is so easy for us to fall into the trap of believing that our faith grows solely through personal experiences, whether it is through a pilgrimage, a mountaintop moment in our faith, or a personal encounter with God through prayer or meditation. While those experiences certainly deepen our faith and desire to grow closer to God, and while we do often learn more about the character and nature of God, we must orient ourselves towards the spiritual discipline of learning rather than relying on fleeting moments of closeness with God.
Being a lifelong learner requires humility, dedication, perseverance and the recognition that we will never know everything there is to know about the faith (or anything else for that matter). It is easy for us to become complacent and believe our faith is “good enough.” But we serve a God who is so much greater than we will ever fully understand. Our desire as believers should be to seek him everyday for the rest of our lives, and to continually press in and learn more about our faith. Here are five ways to foster a life of learning.
- Intentionally Seek Out Experiences to Witness the Hand of God in New Ways
One of the best ways to be a lifelong learner is by being a lifelong explorer. Visiting new places through pilgrimage can expand your worldview and reveal new aspects of the character of God as you experience the hand of God in new areas of the world. You can learn so much about your faith by fellowshipping with other believers through Bible study or a prayer group, and you can be challenged by the viewpoints and beliefs of others.
Another way to challenge yourself and learn more about your faith is through talking with those of different faiths and backgrounds. Understanding their values, beliefs, and stories can both strengthen and give you the opportunity to more deeply reflect on your own faith, while challenging you to learn more. It also presents you with the unique opportunity to seek a deeper understanding of your own beliefs, especially when those beliefs come into question.
- Develop a Mindset of Curiosity
Have you ever read the Scripture and noticed something that you’ve never noticed before? Have you ever been surprised when learning something new about the character of God? Maybe those moments sparked a curiosity in you to learn more. Developing a mindset of curiosity comes from being observant and opening yourself up to seeing things in new ways.
- Dedicate Yourself to Studying the Scripture
There is no greater way to learn the story of our faith than by reading the scriptures, from the lives of the faithful and unfaithful, to the life of Christ himself, there is so much for us to learn through the Scripture. We may be tempted to think that we know all there is to know about the story of our faith; maybe you have read through the entire Bible cover to cover–if so, that’s great! But there is always more to learn. As we grow deeper and deeper into our faith, we are not merely learning more facts; we are learning more about the character of God and more about ourselves as he reveals his plan to us.
Pick one book of the Bible and dive deep into it over the course of a few months, read it passage by passage, examine the original languages, find other Scriptures that align, meditate on the passage, memorize it, and pray that God would reveal the truth and give you wisdom, understanding, and discernment as you learn more about his Word. You’ll be surprised as you study how much more there is to learn about our faith and the character of God.
- Read Theological Texts
Dive deep into the theology of the faith and seek answers to your questions. Reading theological texts by those who have committed their lives to studying the Scripture can accelerate your learning and open you to new insights and understandings.
- Seek Mentors and Wise People of Faith to Learn From
There is a lot we can learn from those who have gone before us, who have walked with God for longer than we have. Find a spiritual mentor and surround yourself with wise people of the faith, ask them questions about their faith journey and what they have learned through their walk with God. Learn their prayer practices, how they study the Bible, how they experience fellowship with others, and apply those practices in your own life.
Becoming a life-long learner requires intentional effort and dedication. As we continually seek out new experiences, develop a mindset of curiosity, dedicate ourselves to studying the Scripture and other theological texts, and seek out mentors, we will develop a deeper understanding of our relationship with God and a greater appreciation for the complexity and beauty of our faith.