The Two Sides of Learning (and Teaching), One of Which We Often Reject

Some lessons are easy to learn; others, though, are hard to accept. Sometimes we don't want to hear it; other times the information is badly given.

I recently posted about reasons to mentor others.  Though uploaded to YouTube before I conceived the mentoring post, this week’s devotional is very much related to that.

I think God arranged that.

Learning life lessons can be tough – or easy – depending on the lesson to be learned.  Some lessons we accept and even seek, while others we often reject.  However, we need both if we’re to grow as humans, as individuals, and as believers in Christ.

I’ll outline both types of lessons and offer a vital piece of advice regarding one of them.

Two Aspects of Learning: Information and Correction

That’s right.  Learning is about both obtaining information and accepting correction.

Solomon knew this and, when writing his proverbs, noted the value of gaining an education that included both:

17 Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life,
    but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.

– Proverbs 10:17 (ESV)

That verse is pretty straight forward: learners are wise, non-learners are foolish.  In it, though, Solomon references both obtaining information and accepting correction.

Information: The Sought-After Education

A wise person desires information.  Sometimes even a fool seeks information.  We want to know stuff, and that’s the beauty (and curse) of the Internet and social media.

Want to know something?  Google it.

Want to learn about someone?  Google them (ever Googled yourself?).

Want to see what someone is up to?  Social media.

Information and data is something we crave.  We want it.  We need it.  We hunt for it!  We . . . yep, we Google it.

Gaining knowledge can help us know more, but information alone won’t help us grow.  We also need correction.

Correction: The Hated Education

Solomon said that a fool rejects correction.  We all make mistakes, make bad choices, and do things wrong.  Sometimes we need someone to come beside us, show us the error, and guide us to what is right.

That is reproof.

A quick note regarding reproof/correction:

Insulting and demeaning people, whether directly or indirectly, is not reproof.  Tearing someone down personally does not teach them, it only hurts them.

To put it another way: derision is not discipline.

That said . . . reproof is pointing out the error and offering a correct alternative.  If the person needs further help, it should be given.

Sadly, though, we often refuse to hear reproof.  We think we know better when, in fact, our error proves how little we know.

When we renounce reproof, we not only hurt ourselves, but those around us.  People see our example and follow it (especially our children).  Furthermore, by rejecting correction, we’re unable to grow and, thus, unable to effectively help others.

We should welcome reproof (not insults or derision), learn from it, and adjust our lives accordingly.  This is how we grow.  This is how we truly use the information we gathered in a positive, beneficial way.

Bringing it Home

In order to grow as people and as believers in Jesus, we need to learn.  Learning includes both gaining knowledge and accepting correction.

Many – if not most – people gladly accept and even seek knowledge.  How else do you explain 3.5 billion Google searches per day (or 40,000 per second)?

However, we often reject correction.  For whatever reason, we shy away from or outright push away any semblance of being told we made a mistake.

If we are to grow in maturity and wisdom, then we need to gain knowledge and accept correction.  To do otherwise is foolish.

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About John L. Rothra
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