Keep on learning
January 4, 2006
Hoffer, a longshoreman on the California docks with next to no formal education, spoke sanity into my generation of the '60s and '70s.
He saw past the arrogance of many leaders of his day. He knew that learners have an attitude of humility: "There is so much more for me to know."
The "learned"—Hoffer speaks with tongue in cheek—really aren't learned. They just think they are.
There are two kinds of "learned" leaders, those who are insecure but want their team to believe that they do know it all, and those who don't know they don't know it all.
There were solid reasons for the radical movement of the 1960s. It wasn't just crazy, indolent students raising mischief. Rather, they recognized an essential issue that needed correcting. In their eyes, the establishment had become arrogant. Inflexibility in organization, be it in private commerce or public institutions had become entrenched. The world was changing and leaders were either too self-absorbed or unwilling to notice.
I hear the unease some of my contemporaries have with the emerging church. Here is a warning to church leaders: We have much yet to learn about the ways of God with his people. In each generation the Spirit is creative, speaking by way of the language and culture of the day. For us of former generations, let us recognize that even as the Spirit spoke into our generation, he will speak to this and coming generations in language they best understand.
God of each generation—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—keep me from trying to serve a need that no longer exists. May humility infuse my heart so that in learning I will understand you ride alongside each generation in its day and with its forms. As I pass on to others the best I know, may it be humility that carries whatever I think I know, so my life will show others that I am ever learning, as did Mary, seeking to understand. Amen.
"In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped, to deal with a world that no longer exists."