If you follow me on social media, you know that I love posting pictures of new review copies that I get from a variety of Christian publishers. Ever since I was in elementary school, I’ve loved to read and have read voraciously. This appetite to read increased as I stepped from childhood into puberty. During this period of my life, God gave me a hunger and a desire to read and learn more about Himself. This passion for reading and learning has led me to consume thousands of books, go to Bible College, and to Seminary. It has further created a burden to see others grow to have a passion for reading and learning the truths of God’s Word from the past to the present. In this article, I want to help you understand not only how to learn from books you read, but also to learn from the school of life.
Growing up as I mentioned I’ve always had a passion for learning. What I didn’t always have was a direction towards learning. In school, I sat in the back of the class reading various books while the teacher taught. Yes, I was that student in school much to the chagrin of my parents and teachers. When I got married, my wife sat me down and told me bluntly that she wouldn’t tolerate me slacking off in school. I said like any smart man at the time, “Yes Ma’am”, and set forth studying as hard as I could. I ended up graduating with every degree I’ve obtained post-high school with excellent grades that I’m still proud of to this day.
Applying Biblical Truth to Our Lives
Going to school and taking Bible and ministry classes led me to developing an even greater desire to grow in my walk with God. This May, I’ll have been graduated from Seminary for four years. Over that time I’ve come to realize that while the time I spent in school was valuable and I will always treasure it, what is more, important is the lessons life has taught me. Yes, school is part of the process of learning, but it is not the be all end all. I know plenty of people who’ve never gone to school who have more wisdom in their pinkie than most Ph.D’s.
Life has a lot to teach us as Christians. It is not only our knowledge our Bible’s that matters. It is knowing how to apply the biblical knowledge we have to our own heart and lives. Only then will we be able to walk with people and help them to grow in Christ.
Some of the greatest Christians I know are those who haven’t gone to Bible College or Seminary. They have no titles after their name. They have no great or grand position, but they do have godly character and a load of life experience. These are the people that I naturally tend to gravitate towards and the one’s I learn the most from.
To be wise is to apply the truth of God’s Word to our lives. When God tells us who we are now in Christ and that there is now, therefore, “no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Romans 8:1), Paul is telling us as Christians about our present position in Christ. As Christians, we can often over spiritualize the circumstances of our lives and instead of being real, we fake it. Instead of adopting a posture of humility, we instead take the road of haughtiness. Instead of life in the Spirit, we instead choose to rely on ourselves.
There is nothing wrong with lots of head knowledge if it is used in the service of the Lord. We who have gone to Bible College or Seminary need to take our responsibility much more seriously in our local churches. There are new and seasoned Christians who need us to be humble. They need us to share humbly with them the truths from God’s Word we’ve learned and the lessons we’ve grown from in our own lives. We need not be know-it-all’s but instead realize, we are servants of Christ with these people. We need to connect with older seasoned men who will help us to learn that while book knowledge is great—we still have lots to go through in this life and to learn from it in the school of life.
Reading good godly books and reviewing them will always be a part of my life as long as God allows. Learning from other godly saints in the context of the local church is vital to a healthy Christian life. All my books can go away. All the head knowledge in the world will not at the end of the day help me to practice what I preach and put into practice what I know. This is the hard work of sanctification—of growing in Christ. You and I need this as Christians.
Reading lots of books is good but loving God with all of our hearts, mind, and strength, and others is greater. I encourage you to read; you would never hear me say otherwise but also to balance that with learning from others. This will help you learn lessons from what you are going through so that you can grow and become who God wants you to be—like Jesus.
Books and life have a lot to teach us. Books can help us to see the world through the eyes of another. When we do life with others we take what we learn in books and put in into practice in our daily lives.
I encourage you if you aren’t already in a Bible-believing, teaching, and practicing church to find one where you can learn and grow with other Christians. There you will begin to put into practice what you’ve learned and to share it with others over time.
In the local church, Bible College, and Seminary student is where you’ll grow deeper in the gospel and in love for fellow believers. As you do that, you’ll grow in relational maturity which is what many of us who’ve gone to Bible College and Seminary need the most as we prepare for what the Lord is calling us to do next in our lives. Please don’t fight against where you need to grow. Instead, be humble and realize you have lots of room for growth.
As you do this, not only will you grow in the Lord, but others around you will begin to notice Christ-like character being formed in you. You’ll also notice that others around you are more apt to ask you questions and opportunities to minister and speak into people’s lives increases. Grow in your walk with God, continue to cultivate godly character, and the Lord will use you in whatever way He has for you in powerful ways to extol His name among the nations for His glory.
Dave Jenkins is happily married to his wife, Sarah. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, the Host and Producer of Equipping You in Grace Podcast, and is a contributor to and producer of Contending for the Word. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021), The Word Matters: Defending Biblical Authority Against the Spirit of the Age (G3 Press, 2022), and Contentment: The Journey of a Lifetime (Theology for Life, 2024). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.