I didn't plan it this way. I was looking in a different direction. No one who knows me from my early years (especially my teachers) would have suspected this. But the fact is, I've been a teacher (certifiable!) for thirty years. This is going to make a lot of my teachers shake their heads and know there must be a God, because I actually have an earned doctorate in education!
My field of study has been adult spiritual formation and development. I love researching it, talking about it, teaching on it, and even attempting to live it out. I've done it at camps, churches, chapels, Bible Schools (both national and international), retreats, pulpits, class rooms, living rooms, dinning rooms, training centers, for not-for-profit and for profit companies.
I think I got the bug shortly after I became a follower of Jesus' and saw firsthand how the Holy Spirit might want to use me. My life has never been the same.
Probably the single greatest help (and most difficult to admit) in this vocation of teaching on adult spiritual formation and development is a line I heard (and I think it was from the late Dr. Howard Hendricks): "A teacher hasn't taught until the student has learned, and learning means change, and change is hard."
If you are an adult follower of Jesus you might take a hard look at that line again.
The question I think that rises to the top is, 'how have I changed?' I don't mean how many books have I read, how many classes have I taken, or how many conferences have I attended. Those might be good places for wonderfully correct information (and I've casted lots of information over the years).
Change means I live differently than before, I have different motives than before, I see life in a bigger way than before, I respond to life around me different than before. But change only occurs because of an intrinsic motivation to want to change.
I have come to believe the purest and most powerful intrinsic motivation is love. Not trying to change in order to earn love or receive love but to live it, to give it, because we've already been loved. When we choose to love (God and neighbor) then the Holy Spirit ignites the ability to love without reciprocity.
Change is hard. It's hard because most of us don't believe we can be loved by God just as we are without changing first. When I want to change because I believe I am loved by God, just as I am, then I'm open to learning. I'm now open to allowing all that wonderful information to impact the deepest places of my soul rather than just stay in my head for the next trivia opportunity.
One of the goals of adult education is to remain a lifelong learner. In Christian circles the admonition is to remain teachable. I like those goals for my life. But I realize this goal means 'I want to change,' and change is hard. That's why we see spiritual formation as a lifelong process. A class, a retreat, a book; these are all necessary to acquire information. The harder task to remain teachable is the desire to change. I will change to the degree that I experience Love.
Rhythm of Grace is about waking up to the process of learning as adults. That means change. Change is not easy; it only occurs when we know we are loved. Everything we offer by way of retreat, training course, practice experiences is about waking up to learning. Those that encounter the Grace of God in loving them just as they are find transformation; change, occurring.
May this be a blessing over you.