Become a Life-Long Learner

opensign.jpgI love to be around people who have energy for life. Specifically, I love to be around people who have never stopped learning.

  • The college professor who continues to explore and learn in her field.
  • The minister who reads the Bible and other books believing that he has much to learn.
  • The parent who understands that he has much to learn about his children, regardless of their age.
  • The woman or man who wakes up every day with a healthy curiosity about life.
  • The church leader who continues to read, think, and explore.

Unfortunately, there are people who do not stay fully alive.  They shut down at some point in their lives.  They stop reading, thinking, and growing. 

This morning, I came across a wonderful paragraph written by Tom Peters (a business consultant, thinker, author).  The quote speaks of the importance of being a life-long learner:

Gerson Barbosa posted a comment yesterday that included the following: "The mission statement of Johns Hopkins
includes ‘cultivate their capacity for life-long learning, to foster
independent and original research, and to bring the benefits of
discovery to the world.’"

It got me thinking. In our rapidly gyrating world (see the two posts
immediately above), learning-for-life is no longer an option. This is
true of you at 6 or 26 or 46, and of me at 66 and my great pal Warren
in his 80s. Moreover, explicit focus on "life-long learning" for
everyone on board may be the most sustainable advantage an organization
of any flavor can have….


I have found that in many ways, biological age is almost irrelevant if you are a life-long learner.  My friend Bill Kirk (Dr. Willis E. Kirk) was selected, in 1963, to serve as the first president of what was then Christian College of the Southwest, in Dallas.  Now, some 46 years later, Bill lives in Waco, Texas.  He continues to think, read, and is fully alive in his mid-to-late 80s.  He leads an Alzheimer’s support group for caregivers.  Bill, also a former psychologist, is more alive in his 80s than some people who are many, many years younger.

What has been helpful to me in my effort to stay fully alive:

1.  Spending time with fully alive people.  I seek out fully alive people.  I greatly enjoy these conversations.

2.  Staying aware of technology.  No, I don’t fully understand the computer I am using at this moment.  However, I am fascinated by technology, online social networking, possibilities for creativity, etc. 

3.  Listening to people of all ages who are curious about life and who cultivate their curiosity.

4.  Continuing to learn.  I have served as a minister for a number of years now.  I read and then read more.  I go to seminars, workshops, special lectures, and other learning events because I want to learn.  I learn from other ministers — younger and older.  Some ministers learn for awhile and then spend the rest of their lives resting on that body of knowledge.  They stop thinking, growing, and developing.  This kind of ministry is deadly to the minister and the church.  

5.  Staying aware of what is happening in the world.  You may notice that on the side of this blog are links to various news sites, book reviews, etc.  These are on my blog because I really do use these links.  This started years ago when we were living in Alabama.  About every other week, I visited the library at the University of North Alabama.  I would spend several hours skimming through newspapers such as the Sunday edition of The New York Times, The London Times, The Wall Street Journal, and a few regional newspapers.  Then I would look through magazines, various journals, etc.  I was not looking for anything in particular.  I was just trying to stay aware of discussions, arts/music, and world events.  (The Internet was not available then.  Thankfully, staying abreast is much easier now.  From within the comfort of my home or office, I can access most any newspaper, journal, etc. in the world.  Amazing!)  This practice has been helpful to me.

What about you?  What do you do intentionally in order to stay fully alive?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “Become a Life-Long Learner

  1. One thing i did to intentionally continue learning was to begin another degree.  The seminars required the reading of some books/authors I would not have read otherwise.   The experience  has led to a spiritual and mental reneal

  2. To stay fresh, I teach.  Preparing to teach is hard work for me.  The process forces me to read and to clarify what I think about something.  Then, I have to figure out a way to talk about the subject so that at least some of my students will care about it too.  It’s not only stimulating, it humbles me.