the weblog of Alan Knox

Learning before serving?

Posted by on Jan 2, 2010 in blog links, discipleship | 4 comments

Andy at “aBowden Blog” continues his series on sanctification in a post called “sanctification, part III.”

He begins with the following description:

There we were at the men’s breakfast. The biscuits, grits, eggs, and bacon were quickly devoured. Our attention turned to the group facilitator who began the morning discussion. He began by explaining his joy over men’s ministry and then asked the rest of us for suggestions about what our purpose should be. Many piped up with “community service projects,” “evangelism,” and “Bible study.” To my surprise, an earnest debate ensued. One man argued, “We should not seek to serve until we have had enough teaching.” Sadly, he won the discussion. His logic was that the men were not ready to serve yet. What they lacked was adequate teaching. Silently I marvelled. How could Sunday morning Sunday school, Sunday morning sermons, Sunday night sermons, and Wednesday night Bible study not be enough teaching? As the weeks progressed, the men’s breakfast quickly fizzled and then completely died.

Then he continues with this observation:

I think the solution is quite different. I think the best lessons are learned, not in the classroom, but in the trenches, with sleeves rolled up, hands dirty, and back sore. Those men at the morning breakfast could have had innumerable teaching times, about love, service, etc, or they could have chosen to DO, to love, to serve. Sure, they would have made a ton of mistakes and realized their lack of love, but isn’t that the point? Don’t we learn best by doing?

I think that Andy is learning a lesson that I’m learning as well: people primarily learn by doing. So, separating “learning” from “serving” actually decreasing learning.

Do you want people to learn about the love of God? Then take them with you as you demonstrate that love to others. It really is that simple… and that difficult.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 1-2-2010

    Maybe it’s the perpetual academic in me, but I’m more inclined to think learning occurs by praxis: doing+thinking+feeling. Each flows into the other and it’s tough–if not impossible–to separate them if true learning is occurring.

    On the other hand, if any one aspect is alone, the I would question whether the person is learning, for knowledge involves thought, action, and affection.

  2. 1-2-2010

    As an addendum to my previous comment, I absolutely agree those in my Christian tradition (and other, I expect) put too much emphasis on thinking and little to none on doing and feeling.

  3. 1-2-2010


    I wholeheartedly agree with what Andy said,”I think the best lessons are learned, not in the classroom, but in the trenches, with sleeves rolled up, hands dirty, and back sore.”

    I would add this,”Alongside of a genuinely committed disciple maker who teaches BOTH verbally AND “in the trenches”, and EQUALLY shares the “sleeves rolled up, hands dirty, and back sore.”

  4. 1-2-2010

    Paul said we should be subject to the smartest, most educated guys didn’t he? Or maybe he said:

    Now I urge you, brothers–you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints– be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer. (1Co 16:15-16)

    If you wait to serve until you have “learned enough” you will find yourself never serving.