2. Create Space and Redeem Spare Time.
If you work a fulltime job and have a young family, it may be difficult to make room for the homework and weekly commitment of attending an evening class or even taking a course online. But what you can do, in this tight season or any other, is create little windows for learning.
It may only be five or 10 minutes of reading as you go to bed at night, or a few extra minutes of lingering over the Scriptures in the morning, or listening to a short podcast like Ask Pastor John or Theology Refresh as you brush your teeth, commute or run errands. Or maybe just set the goal to read an article or two each day online at a substantive site like The Gospel Coalition.
3. Mind Your Mindless Moments.
There’s a place for mental rest and recreation, for ballgames and television and pop tunes and motion pictures, but a lifelong learner will want to take care that most of life’s spare moments are not cannibalized by mere mindless entertainment. There is a way to watch (some) sports and television with intentionality for learning. Checking on the news is one. The History Channel or some good documentary are among others.
Lifelong learning, over time, will mean developing the resistance to simply veg out whenever you feel the impulse, and turn some of these moments, if not many, into opportunities to grow instead. It may not feel like much on any given day, but the payoff in the long haul is extraordinary.
4. Adapt to New Media.
A large personal library, with tattered and penciled pages, was once the mark of a lifelong learner. Then shelves of books were accompanied by newspaper and magazine clippings, then stacks of 8-track tapes, then stashes of cassettes, then piles of CDs. Today a veritable library can be stored on an e-reader or laptop, and mp3s once hoarded on hard drives are available online through near ubiquitous wifi.
Podcasts have become a favorite channel of the endlessly curious, and tomorrow the technology will be new and even better. Already free video and online education courses are accessible like never before. And there is social media—and what teachers or entertainers or athletes or friends you let fill your feed may say a lot about how eager you are to simply kill a few moments or bring them to life with learning.
5. Embrace the Identity of Learner.
Finally, whether it appears among your top five in StrengthFinders or not, declare yourself a “Learner.” Claim it was your sixth strength. Fight against the tide that takes learning to be something quarantined to school days and essential to childhood and adolescence but something beneath adulthood. Resist the urge to squander spare time on mindless entertainment. Embrace your finitude and the glorious infinity of God, and brace yourself to never stop learning, not as a burden, but a great joy. Own the truth that in a sense we creatures never “arrive,” not even in the new creation.
Resolve to be a lifelong learner.