lessons learned, vol. 1

it's only been a couple of years that i've been called [& been calling myself] a "student of Life." but even in that time, i've learned much. here are a few lessons among many, in no particular order:

>> being "right" without being loving is still wrong.
boy, have i gotten myself into plenty of trouble with this one. i've learned this more by being wrong than right. i am a passionate, opinionated person. i feel strongly convicted about my beliefs & values. but my means of communicating them can be abrasive, unloving, & ineffective. thankfully, & by the immeasurable grace of God, He's grown me a lot in this area. but i had to learn the hard way. the way that has lost me many a disagreement & cost me many a friendship. because no matter how "right" i am on the issue, if i don't act rightly as i communicate what i think, i'm still wrong. railroading people is never right. dismissing people & their thoughts, beliefs, & opinions is never right. and even arguing a point just because "i'm right" is never right. there needs to be a point beyond "i'm right" for engaging in disagreements. there needs to be something at stake besides my pride & need to be right. plus, it's just not effective to share your thoughts in these ways! Jesus & the apostle paul taught that quarreling is never becoming or productive for a follower of Christ. they also taught that when disagreement arises, perhaps even in the manner of correction, it is paramount to treat the other person with love & gentleness. this is a tough teaching for someone like me, but it is the way Christ, the Life, has called us to live.

>> education does not equal effectiveness.
i can not preach this one enough! having a degree in a particular subject does not make one an expert. it does not mean you are guaranteed to know more than someone else who does not have that same degree or education in that same subject. and it certainly does not mean you are or will be effective in the active field of that subject. i might say this from some personal experience... i've seen this to be true in several areas, including design & teaching, but i've learned this lesson most strikingly in the area of ministry. knowing a lot about theology &/or ministry tactics will not ensure a person to be an effective minister. and it does not necessarily indicate gifting or calling from God. conversely, not having attended seminary or having a degree in theology does not necessarily mean a person cannot be extremely effective in ministry & even called to it. God does not gift or call people according to the letters after their name or the fancy framed paper in their office. He calls who He calls, for His purposes, & God has a long track record of working through people the world would deem unqualified. i'm certainly not against going to seminary -- my sister is studying theology on a graduate level right now. i also don't think that hiring ministers with degrees is a bad thing -- i have lots of godly & effective degreed minister friends. rather, i have learned that a degree is not an absolute indicator, nor is the lack of one.

>> embrace the current season.
i just turned 30 last year, & for over a year leading up to that milestone, i was dreading it. and then a dear longtime friend of mine told me this attitude didn't seem consistent with or becoming for a student of life. she said she imagined a student of life would embrace the season in which they currently found themselves, no matter what it might be, & they would intentionally prepare for & even look forward to new seasons in life. and she was right. i still often struggle with the reality that i'm 30. working with teens can cause that! but reflecting over my 20s, i am thankful for all the ways in which God has grown me up to this point. i have plenty of regrets, mainly the regret of squandered time, but i also have lots of triumphs, to the glory of God. side note: i asked another friend if i should "freeze" my age at 29, & she advised against it. instead, she said to wait until i turn 32 to "stop aging" because who would ever think you're lying about being 32?!

i've learned much more than these three lessons, & i'll write more at another time. but these lessons have been pivotal for me in learning how to live the good life. 

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