learn by trying

Since the beginning of the New Year / decade, I have been presented with two new opportunities that, in their own way, pose certain challenges.

First, I have started a new job as a support worker at a children’s residence. I had gone for an interview prior to Christmas, and was able to pick up my first shift on Sunday. Part of the interview process was a intense reading session, where I spent about seven hours making my way through the various policies and procedure of the program, and also read the profiles of each individual child. While this was certainly an informative evening, I must admit that not all of the information stuck with me. It will undoubtedly take me several shifts to get a feel for the rhythm of the place and to gain a sense of how effectively and meaningfully relate to each child. It takes time to get familiar with how things work, and there is only so much that you can actually learn from a three-inch binder.

Related to the this new job is the issue of transportation. Here in Guelph, we live in a house that has two vehicles – one automatic, one standard. In other words, one that I know how to drive, and one that I don’t. Or didn’t know. This past Saturday, I was taken out for my first lesson on how to drive a stick shift, and drove around the roads of Wellington County for about 45 minutes. The next day – the day of my first shift – I was to drive the truck to work, putting my very limited experience to the test. I’ll be honest, this filled me with some anxiety; but, apart from a stall here and there, I was able to successfully transition from first to fifth and back again, safely and punctually making the 25 minute drive to and from the new job.

My point? There’s only so much that you can learn from reading or having something explained to you. It takes time to develop a new skill or become acclimated to a new situation. There will surely be some bumps along the way, but, in most instances, things will work out if a persistent and repeated effort is made to put into practice that which has been taught and learned.

This is not unlike the life of discipleship. We become followers of Jesus not by simply reading the Word or words about him, and not by hearing it explained to us or admiring from a distance how he has shaped the lives of others. We become disciples by putting into practice the different Way of living that he came to introduce. Christians often become paralyzed by a sense of unknowing – we don’t know what it all really means and have no idea where to start, failing to see that all that is required of us is a tangible first step, an effort to develop certain disciplines and practices that will help us along the Way of Jesus.

We only really learn by trying. Anything less leaves us forever stuck in neutral.

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  1. I should have let you drive the jeep. With Big boy hangin on the side of course.

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