Awhile back, a man who was visiting from out of town sat in on the Wednesday night Bible study that I facilitate. Once the class was over, he came up to me and introduced himself. Then he said, “Let me ask you a question.”
“O.K.,” I said.
“What happens to us after we die? I’ve asked this question to many preachers and not one has been able to answer my question.”
“Well, I’ll give it a shot,” I quipped. Then I started in on my answer to his question.
The man interrupted and said, “You’re not getting to my question. Why is it that preachers, of all people, can’t answer this question?”
I said, “Well, sir, I’m getting to the heart of your question, if you’ll let me finish.” So I continued answering his question, citing several Bible passages in support of my thoughts.
Again, the man interrupted me. “Still, no preacher can answer my question!”
I was a little dumbfounded at this because I was answering his question. After another attempt at finishing my thought, the man interrupted me again.
So I said, “Sir, with all due respect, maybe the reason you’ve never heard a preacher answer your question is because you’ve never let him finish his response.”
That conversation made me think about our approach to learning. When we seek to answer a question we have, are we truly open to learning? Or do we just want to have our predetermined “answers” affirmed? Are we open to having our assumptions challenged, or do we simply disregard whatever doesn’t fit into our preconceived notions? Do we have respect for the people we look to as teachers, or do we go to our teachers trying to stump them in an effort to bolster our own egos?
The key posture in learning is humility.
Practice it and we will learn.
By the way, if you’re interested in knowing what happens to us when we die, check out this helpful article from my friend Matthew Dowling It’s where I was going with my attempts to answer the man’s question:)