Reflections and resources for lifelong learning for missionaries

Tag: humility

lifelong learning
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Cultivating Learning Attitudes

Part of SEND U’s vision is: “Every SEND missionary will be proactive in creating habits of lifelong, intentional learning focused on both character and skill development.” What attitudes does a missionary need to cultivate in order to get personal buy-in to this vision? I suggest that cultivating attitudes of humility, openness, civility, and commitment provide motivation for personal buy-in. Moreover, these attitudes are the soil in which habits of lifelong, intentional learning will grow.


Humility is an essential attitude for learning, for without it we will not recognize the need to learn. Furthermore, humility helps us remain teachable. On my desk I have a quote from John Calvin as a reminder to stay teachable:

Lifelong learning begins with humility

We all need to be lifelong learners.  As David Mathis reminds us in a recent Desiring God blog post,

Teaching and learning are at the very heart of our faith. To be a “disciple” means to be a “learner.” … The Christian faith is not a finite course of study for the front-end of adulthood. Our mindset shouldn’t be to first do our learning and then spend the rest of our lives drawing from that original deposit of knowledge. Rather, ongoing health in the Christian life is inextricably linked to ongoing learning.

Questions persist

The first step toward being a lifelong learner is to admit that despite our experience and education, there is still so much that we still do not understand about life and ministry.   We don’t know it all. We haven’t figured it all out.  In fact, some of the most important questions are still mysteries to us. Recently, the book of Job brought home this truth to me.

Not trying to share the stage with God

In the leadership course I recently taught in Khabarovsk at the Far East Russia Bible College, one of my assignments required my students to read through the first 6 chapters of Nehemiah. They were to describe five leadership characteristics or actions of Nehemiah that explain why he was able to motivate and organize the people to build the walls of Jerusalem in such a short time.

During the week that I was in Khabarovsk, I decided to re-read Nehemiah for myself in my personal devotions, and pay particular attention to his leadership qualities. Over the years, I have read Nehemiah many, many times, and marked dozens of papers on this subject. But again, I noticed leadership qualities in Nehemiah that I had missed before, particularly in the chapters following chapter six. My reading and reflection on Nehemiah continued after my return to Kiev, and I would like to share a few observations from the dedication celebration of the wall that Nehemiah organized, and which is recorded in chapter 12.

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