Reflections and resources for lifelong learning for missionaries

Category: Growth Plans Page 1 of 2

like your teacher
Image by Raphi D from Pixabay

What limits our disciple’s progress?

Over the years, I have recognized that many of those I have taught, coached or mentored have become better communicators and more effective leaders than me. I may have been their teacher, but their gifting and competency have surpassed my own. This has been a cause for celebration. I have even seen it as an indication of God’s blessing on my life.

Upon first reading, Jesus’ words in John 14:12 might seem to suggest that he had the same sentiments.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. – John 14:12

However, I think D. A. Carson is right in saying that Jesus is talking about the greater impact the disciples will have once the resurrection has made it clear who Jesus is. The works of the disciples are greater than those that Jesus did, because in the light of his death and resurrection, these works will more clearly glorify him for who he really is.1D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John, p. 496.

Like your teacher

In Luke 6, Jesus gives a more realistic evaluation of the potential of his disciples. But it is still a pretty lofty perspective!

The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. – Luke 6:40

Wellness after 40
Photo by Tristan Le from Pexels

A book about planning to live well after 40

Wellness for the Glory of God: Living Well after 40 with Joy and Contentment in All of Life by [MD Dunlop, John]

What does wellness look like after 40? Why should we care? We find helpful and practical answers in Wellness for the Glory of God: Living Well After 40 with Joy and Contentment in All of Life by John Dunlop, MD. The author focuses on wellness in the second half of life.

In the introduction, he explains what the book is about:

What strategies can we who are getting older adopt that will maximize our chances to endure the challenges of our later days and continue to be well? The essence of this book is expressed in the title. Wellness depends on living with a purpose that goes beyond the here and now. Over and over I have seen that one way in which Christians can stay well in their twilight years is to keep their focus on God, his greatness, and his glory.1John Dunlop, Wellness for the Glory of God, Crossway, 2014, p 12.

The suggested strategies call for changes that can make a difference as we age. Consequently, starting at age 40 is not too early.

Defining Wellness

Dr. Dunlop takes a wholistic approach to wellness. He writes:

. . . wellness is much more than physical health and freedom from distressing symptoms. Wellness involves the whole of our being, which includes six distinct areas: physical, mental, social, financial, spiritual, and emotional. These areas of wellness are not independent but are all interrelated. Each area contributes to the wellbeing of each of the others. At the same time, struggles in one area may distract from wellness in each of the others.2Dunlop, p 21.

Learning by doing
Photo by VisionPic .net from Pexels

Is learning by doing better than learning through courses?

Recently I reacquainted myself with a common formula used among trainers. It is the 70-20-10 model for learning and development. The model is based on research back in the 1980s on what were the most significant learning experiences for effective leaders.1https://trainingindustry.com/wiki/content-development/the-702010-model-for-learning-and-development/.

The research showed that leaders learned most (70%) through hands-on-experience at work when they accepted challenging assignments and worked on problem-solving. This included learning from taking risks, experimenting and making mistakes.

The next greatest source of learning (20%) came from working with others. This would include collaborating with others, giving and receiving feedback and receiving coaching and mentoring. The last 10% was learning through educational courses, seminars and books.

The danger of not learning from history

When Daniel was called into Belshazzar’s banquet hall to interpret the writing on the wall, he was no longer a young man. He was probably a little over 80 years of age.  Nebuchadnezzar had died more than 20 years ago, and apparently the current king Belshazzar no longer valued or had need of Daniel’s wisdom and experience.

But when the writing on the wall appears, and no one can interpret its meaning, the queen mother recommends that they call Daniel, who under a previous king, had proven to be a man of “insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods.”

When personal development became exciting for me

I remember the minute personal development became exciting for me. I was sitting in a training room in Singapore listening to the introductory session on Christian coaching. I showed up to the training kind of on accident. I didn’t know the first thing about coaching but a few months earlier someone had asked me to consider going. He also volunteered to pay for the training and to watch my 3- and 7-year-old for a week. So I said yes.

Crucibles develop our capacity

These days, I am following a training plan to prepare for a half marathon that I would like to run in September.  The training plan is progressive.  You start with running 4.8 km, then after a few weeks you move up to 6.4 km.  When running 6.4 km is no longer a big challenge, then the training plan asks you to run 8 km.   A few weeks later, when 8 km becomes relatively easy, then you are asked to run 10 km, and so on.

There are no shortcuts.  This is a 20-week plan, and slowly builds capacity up to 21.1 km as you faithfully follow the plan.   Other training plans for half marathons may be shorter, but they all follow the same principle. You run longer and longer distances as your capacity increases over time.

What’s Best Next

As we think about goals and priorities for the new year, we are frequently reminded of how often we have failed to reach our goals of previous years. Apparently only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions successfully accomplish their resolutions.

In our mission organization, we are asking all of our members to put together an Individual Growth Plan for 2015.  Being intentional about and planning our learning is important.  People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.   But planning is only the first step.   Unless we carry out the plan, we are no further ahead at the end of next year.

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