By Pastor Josh Bundy
Proverbs 19:20 (NLT)
20 Get all the advice and instruction you can,
so you will be wise the rest of your life.
I’ve spent more years of my life in school than young me could have imagined. As a kid I thought the great privilege of adulthood was permanent freedom from the classroom. (Well, that and eating ice cream without having to ask permission!) We would spin the globe and jab a finger to foretell our adventures when we were in charge and life was open and fun and free of teachers and books. In adulthood, I really did get to travel to many of those places, and other destinations are in my future plans! Yet as my life stretches through its fourth decade on the spinning globe, I’ve found myself repeatedly returning to the seat of a student. What’s up with that?
Why would someone go back to long hours behind desks, hand cramps from writing, and anxious deadlines if they didn’t have to… (wait a second… that’s starting to sound like just the average American job!) Though the first days of a new school year were always fun, by the third or fourth week I was over it. So, what happened?
Something changed in me along the way.
A lot changed since my early school days. I can still smell wood shavings from #2 lead pencils and the burn of rubber erasers on composition paper. I feel the tackiness of Elmer’s glue as I hold a project board in place for it to dry. Now, we sling laptops on our backs and backup digital presentations to the cloud. But for me, something changed beyond the tools. I left behind most of the math they promised me I would need and explored new subjects that interested me. Languages, theology, and religion. But there was a deeper shift than subject matter.
Along the way I was formed. I was influenced by the people; teachers led me, students shaped me, professors and authors challenged me. Bit by bit I was formed into a person who could handle the grind of the study, who could appreciate the wealth it produced. Along the way I discovered treasures of greater value than “right answers,” such as great questions, being wrong and trying a new thesis, and most of all, receiving instruction.
The proverb says get all the instruction you can. Not just all the information you can, but all the instruction. Study is not merely a pursuit of right answers, but of rightly forming people who hold knowledge to dispense wisdom. It’s not about being right but about being formed rightly.
There are exceptionally smart people who could easily go on to be professors or academics or leading professionals, who don’t because while mastery of information comes easily for them, wisdom does not. I’ve known some of these people. I’ve also seen a lot of average students who kept rising higher in study, in career, and in life simply because they learned the art of taking good advice. They were instructed. A lot of students get frustrated because learning is hard, and they can’t see the point. Others get bored because memorizing is easy. What does each one need? To be shaped into a person who values good advice. To become a person who seeks many counselors.
As we prepare to talk about our Discipleship Pathway at Covenant Church this weekend, I can’t help but think about the unschooled fishermen, over-schooled Pharisees, and overlooked women who followed Jesus. He chose them to receive wise instruction. They were discipled/formed/instructed in his ways. They came out different. Something changed. They were shaped.
They didn’t become apostles because they passed tests, nevertheless they were schooled. They bumped up against a true master and they kept hanging around and coming back and learning until their lives were irrevocably remade.
Isn’t this something worth seeking from Jesus? Discipleship includes dimensions of obedience, Bible teaching, skills, knowledge of various kinds…but at its core it is relational instruction. It is being pressed by the advice and wisdom that have shaped a good life until we bear the impression ourselves. In Jesus, we can receive this life-remaking instruction because we are remade in his grace; let us return to Jesus, our teacher.
As we return to school drop off lines and lunch boxes and return to our ministry year rhythms may God grant us renewal in our return and a season of instruction that will help us for our whole lives. If you’re looking for a little help and some great relationships along the way, check out our Core Classes, Community Groups, and Care Groups on the website. We are looking forward to being shaped by Jesus as we spend time with him together.