Earlier this week on our Twitter and Facebook, you may have come across this quote from Dwight Moody:
"So few grow, because so few study."
Today, many of us operate under the unchallenged assumption that learning and study end after college or graduate school. And understandably, too: there are jobs to get and keep, families to manage, community groups to run, and sports programs to plug into. And then, in the precious, exhausting moments at the end of the day, we must give quality time to our smartphones.
Tongue-in-cheek. (A little.) But Moody was speaking to us as time-frazzled, modern-day adults, not to our children, and not to an idyllic, unhurried people of the past. He understood that one of the key purposes of education is to become life-long learners, to be parents and citizens who have both the ability and interest to self-teach. He understood that without this life-long learning, we will not grow. And as we hopefully learned from Biology class, if you're not a growing organism, you're a dead one.
Mental and moral growth requires study and learning, entirely distinct from our day jobs, separate from our child-rearing. Sacrifice is required. But if we claim (and we do) that art, beauty, and the enjoyment of God are at the center of existence, and if we claim (and we do) that high grades, the Ivy league, and fast-lane jobs are not the first reasons we educate our children, then these claims have to come out our fingertips. Vision must become tangible mission. We want our children to study and grow -- but are we content to land our jobs and coast to retirement ourselves? As Malcolm Muggeridge once said, "Only dead fish swim with the current."
Let's continue to show our kids how to learn -- and not just because it will benefit them. We all have a duty to glorify God and enjoy him forever, and true enjoyment takes focus. Let's commit to steeping ourselves in the stories of the Old and New Testaments, to exploring the great books we've never read (and which make little sense to us at first), and to engaging in the cultural conversation of ideas. Our children are watching us, watching whether we practice what we preach. But we should also watch ourselves. May we always be interested, bright-eyed Christians, glutted with knowledge and wisdom for God's glory. May we work tangibly to bring Christ's kingdom to earth, and may we always be able to "taste and see that the Lord is good" (Ps. 34:8).
Grace and Peace, Nate Ahern