Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Much of my summer has been taking up by one thing: Studying to pass the California State Bar Exam in February. For those not familiar, it's an 18 hour exam that is taken over the course of three days. You need to pass this to be able to practice law in the state of California. Needless to say, this has had me thinking a lot about two things: 1) the law and 2) what studying actually is.
When we study God's Word, the law, or anything for that matter, we should keep this in mind: No one knows everything except God. Even the most decorated Bible teacher will not know an assortment of facts like who wrote a certain book or what page certain information is on. We must start with this premise or studying will become a frustrating, fruitless endeavor: Only God is omniscient. No man will ever know everything there is. Ever.
If we can't learn everything, why use our time to learn anything? The way you answer this question will either result in your study being a benefit or a burden. The goal of studying should never be perfection. If you start with the premise that God is the only one who knows everything, you will have to agree that perfection is unattainable for any man. If the goal of our studying is something that is impossible, we will always come to study with discouragement, frustration, and hopelessness. I say this from experience. For a long time, whether I realized it or not, I tried to study in the sense of a perfectionist, and I always had these feelings as well. It made me want to procrastinate when I needed to study. Who wants to willingly submit themselves to a practice that will make them discouraged, frustrated, and hopeless every time they decide to do it? If you can decide to avoid these feelings, it doesn't make much sense to willingly submit yourself to these emotions. But as we said earlier, perfection is not attainable for any man, and, therefore, should not be the goal of studying.
So what, then, is the goal of studying? Increase. Increasing our knowledge and understanding should be our goal at all times when studying. Focusing on increase allows us to walk away from every session meeting a goal and provides a sense of constant accomplishment. Feelings of guilt because of procrastination eventually subside. If you study, and your goal is to know more than you did before you started, then your goal is met, and you are not discouraged, frustrated, and hopeless. Constantly striving for increase is the mark of a good student. Constantly striving for perfection is the mark of a discouraged (and I would argue, disillusioned) student.
When we go to study God's Word, let's always approach it looking for an increase of knowledge and understanding and not expect it to be perfect in this life. It will keep us coming back to learn more and more, and our procrastination from doing the things we know we should do will become less and less.
Perfection as the Goal
- Causes Constant Feelings of Guilt
- Causes Discouragement
- Causes Procrastination
Increase as the Goal
- Attainable Every Session
- Provides a Sense of Accomplishment
- Guilt Free
- Procrastination Subsides
- Learning Increases as a Result