As we covered in Part 1, C.S. Lewis’ Learning in Wartime is an important read for us in our current context. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to do so. You can access it here.
In Part 1 of the blog, we explored the three enemies that, according to Lewis, would seek to rise up against us as we learn in war-time (global pandemic time): distraction; anxiety; and fear.
This time around, we look into the seven things you can put in place in your situation to optimise your learning and growth. Whether you are formally studying at school, college or university, or completing a short course or self-initiated pursuit of knowledge and skill, the following will apply:
Number 1 – “Know the importance of the season you are in” (Proverbs 10:5)
You are in a unique season of disruption, change and transition. There will be other unique characteristics to the season that you are in. What are they? Take time to reflect on them.
Number 2 – Calling
We have a primary calling from God that is shared: to know him and make him known. You also have unique callings that are specific and situational, seasonal and distinct to you.
How does the education and growth that you are undertaking intersect with your calling at this time?
Number 3 – Invest in people, relationships and community
Many of us have been deprived of people and relationships in the past 18 months and we see their importance and the impact of this to our communities. We long for the return of being able to drive to see family and friends who have been cut off from us. It is good and healthy for us to do our best in the context we are in.
During this time, prayerfully seek to invest in others as you are able. People who are in need, people who are different to you, perhaps they are the generation above or below you. Also, remember that education, learning and growth are good things to do with other people and enhance community and connection through a shared experience.
Number 4 – The Stockdale Paradox
This story is drawn from the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. James Stockdale was a POW in Vietnam. Basically, he stated that ‘’you must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time, have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be’’.
Stockdale would later state that other POWs who would say this will be all over by Christmas did not do well.
Number 5 – Ordering your Private World
I take that term from the book of the same name by Gordon MacDonald. It is a wonderful book and I commend it to you.
During the current crisis what needs to be reordered in your inner garden as MacDonald would say? A solid audit and review of your life and particularly your inner life. Also, thinking about certain relationships, thoughts and habits that may have served you well up to this point but no longer do. We can hang on to them because they are familiar and comfortable but they are not who we now are nor who we are becoming.
So, a question for you is, what do you need to let go of?
Number 6 – Daily Routine
This one deserves special mention and is an important part of the antidote to the enemies (Distraction – Anxiety – Fear) of education and true growth. Your daily routine provides the scaffolding and informs much of your mood and ways of thinking about yourself and others. The rhythms and disciplines that enable you to be at your best (even if in lockdown) will positively compound into all other areas of life.
Number 7 – Know your limits
This is especially important at this time – knowing what isn’t and what is yours to control. For example, your thoughts and your choices and as we spoke about in episode 5 of the Counsel Culture Podcast …. the story that you tell yourself!
I hope we can draw on C.S. Lewis’s lessons of Learning in Wartime. May we remember that there will always be challenges and crises in our lives. And there will always be rationalisations to give up and lose hope for our education and growth.
Remember – you are learning from the present crisis the very attributes of persistence and grit that will bless you throughout your entire life. What is more, if you consecrate your studies to the Lord, recognising how you can use your learning to build His kingdom, he will pour out power and capacity that you never thought you had.
You are in the midst of sacred work. Your education is key to your personal growth and to realising your potential in the Lord. He will bless you and be with you.