Study: The First Element of Practice
The first of ten elements offered by the Aidan Way as a means of building consistent habits and discipline into one's weekly life is study:
It’s vital to develop the habit of being a learning in every situation – for both humility and a desire to change are inherent in the learner. My aim is therefore to approach all of life as a learner – but with an understanding that there are three central sources of learning that are to be priority for me…
- the Bible – along w/ all the journaling, writing and teaching related to it
- prayer and meditation (more on this later)
- literature and the arts
Just as learning is vital, learning is also dangerous. There’s a tendency to view information as an end in itself, and the scriptures warn of those who are ‘always learning, but never able to come a knowledge of the truth’ – This is a real danger for me, and for many of us in our educated culture. We think we need more information, when most often what we need is a heart soft enough to respond to the information we have.
One example of this that comes to mind: A pressing need that arises occassionally in our congregation is for people to practice hospitality for the poor and marginlized who find their way to our church. We know Jesus words about this. We know what we ought to do. But will His reign find rest in my heart or not? I wrestle with these things as never before in my life, because never before in my life have I been face to face with these kinds of needs and issues. When I travel and teach, I'm dealing with 'inner issues' among students. But here in the city, God is bringing people to us who, like Jesus, have 'nowhere to lay their head'. What are we to do?
It's not impressive to know a lot if the knowing doesn't change the way we live. And for this reason, I think study, as an end in itself is dangerous. Perhaps that's why the healthiest movement down through the ages have always been a spirit designed blend of study, prayer, service, and hospitality - a lot like the Aidan practices I'm working on. Now - to actually do them!