When I was young, our church hosted a summer camp every year. There’s usually a great speaker and we head home feeling really excited about our faith and God. However, after a few weeks, that excitement waned and our attentions were soon diverted back to the daily grind in life and ministry. Eventually, after a few years of this cycle, we began to wonder if our summer camp was really effective. It’s great to feel the conviction and initial excitement. If only we can keep the momentum going.
I noticed a similar pattern in my own life. When God highlights an area that He wants me to focus on, I get really excited at first. The new ideas and possibilities, they all sound so exciting and full of promise. I dive right in only to lose steam and drop it after a few months. This became a cycle for both me and my friends. And trying harder didn’t help either. In fact, the harder we tried, the faster we burnt out, it seemed.
Feeling defeated, I prayed and asked for help. What God showed me was surprising. It wasn’t because I didn’t try hard enough, it was because I didn’t understand His learning process…
Learning takes time. Maybe it’s the digital age we live in. We love to see instant result. I’m no different, and that was my problem. We are not robots. We do not learn by installing a program or an app. It takes time for us to learn and adapt. It takes time for our brains to form new synaptic pathways. It takes time for our motor skills to change their habits. It just takes time. Just because I intellectually understand an idea, it doesn’t translate into mastery and reality overnight. I mistakenly expected to succeed in these new endeavors in 3 months time, when in reality, it takes years to bear fruit.
Mistakes are learning opportunities. Being raised by a Tiger Mom, I can be a perfectionist at times. Mistakes were unacceptable to me. I expected to become an expert at the first try. It’s unrealistic, and it’s this kind of false expectation that set me up to fail most of the time. Thankfully, that’s not how God looks at things. When we learn, we’re trying out new skills and new ways of thinking. It’s important to observe the results so we understand how to proceed and improve next time. We are almost guaranteed to never get it right on the first try. The key is to understand where we went wrong and learn from it.
Expect opposition. When God gives us a gift, calling, ministry or direction, it does *not* mean things will go smoothly. In fact, it is almost a guarantee that our paths will be more challenging than expected. This is because we learn through experiences and repetition. God allows these difficult situations to arise as training sessions. Don’t be discouraged when you encounter unexpected challenges. Ask God to show you what He wants you to learn, and ask for His wisdom to lead you through it.
While our journey may seem more difficult, God’s favor and grace will also show up in many unexpected areas. He will connect us with best people for support and counsel. He will provide the best material at a fraction of the price. And most importantly, He will cause the work of our hands to bear His signature. That is the result of following God’s learning process. Now, *that* is priceless.