Editor’s Note: Starting today, each Sunday we will publish a new blog post from the editors of and regular contributors to Christian Standard. Our purpose is to encourage and equip leaders with timely and relevant leadership lessons we are learning. We will relate to current events in the church and culture and also provide insider information about Christian Standard Media. And we’d love to hear from you! If you have a reaction to a post, please comment below!
By Michael C. Mack
As kids in our area went back to school this past week, I started reflecting on those first days of school for our four kids (who are all in their twenties now).
Several years ago, part of my Bible-reading practice was to study a chapter of Proverbs each day for a month. On the first day of school, August 15, I read Proverbs 15, and I immediately knew what our verse of the day would be:
“The wise person makes learning a joy; fools spout only foolishness” (Proverbs 15:2, New Living Translation).
I woke up the kids and as we sat together at the kitchen table and they ate chocolate chip muffins and drank their Starbucks Frappuccino’s (a special treat for the first day of school), I shared this verse with them and encouraged them to think about it through the day.
My hope was that learning would be a joy for each of our kids, not only during the school year, but throughout their lives. This verse is not based on my hopes, however; it’s based on their attitudes and choices. “The wise person makes learning a joy.” This will be a choice each of them will make each day. They can choose to say: “I don’t understand chemistry [Actually, that’s what I said in high school!]. I’m bad in math. I’m going to get lost in the hallways . . .” Or they can choose to say: “Chemistry isn’t easy, but I’ll find a way to get this! I’ll find my way through the halls and there are plenty of people to help me if I need them.” You get what I mean.
This is not just about our kids, of course. I know that my attitudes often determine my outcomes. I need to constantly be going “back to school,” back to God’s Word—spending time with him every day, listening to him, and following his teaching—to learn how to make better life choices. I need other people, wise counselors, in my life to show me the way and encourage me.
As the kids in my neighborhood loaded into buses each morning this week, I was reminded about my own need to consistently make learning a joy. “I delight in your decrees,” said the psalmist, “I will not neglect your word” (Psalm 119:16). That’s the right attitude!
Last week, I wrote in our Christian Standard newsletter,
I believe one of the best things church leaders can do for their people is to provide them with vision and the tools to make a long-term commitment to get into and stay in God’s Word.
A systematic approach to studying the Bible is vital for individual followers and for churches.
Perhaps you’ve seen that our sister publication, The Lookout, has designed a new scope and sequence for Bible study. Lookout editor Shawn McMullen said in his current month’s Letter from the Editor, “What greater discipline can the church instill in adult Bible students and what greater lifelong practice can the church encourage in young students of Scripture than to learn to study the Bible in its entirety, allowing the Word of God itself to determine the course and plan of learning?”
As a leader (all of us lead something or someone, even ourselves!), the most vital thing you can do is commit to a regular, systematic study of God’s Word as part of abiding in him. When you spend time with God in his Word each day, he will not only fill you up, he will overflow his truth, wisdom, and love through you. Start there. (The Lookout provides a daily reading plan as part of its weekly lessons.)
Next, I want to encourage you to provide the people you lead with tools for a systematic study of the Scriptures. Spur them on to make the same commitment you have. Provide your classes and groups with The Lookout and its new scope and sequence plan that will enable groups to study systematically through the Bible every six years. The magazine provides excellent commentary and application as well as a list of questions you can use. Well-written articles supplement this material each week.
Imagine if everyone you lead—in your family, small group, class, or church—engaged in regular, systematic study of God’s Word. What differences would it make in your church, your city, the kingdom?
Michael C. Mack is editor of Christian Standard.