Learning is hard when you don’t know something.

As part of my day job, I lead a weekly staff meeting. Nine of us who spend our time supporting the people who call themselves Grabill Missionary Church. We mostly have the title ‘pastor.’

At these meetings,  we talk about what’s happening in our lives, what’s happening in our areas of responsibility. We like and respect each other. The meetings are good.

Except for my opening question.

I ask things like “what song best describes how you are doing this week.” This week I asked “What is the most recent thing you learned how to do?” I asked that because I had spent the week learning how to use new video editing software. I was at the limits of my old software and realized that we would all benefit from me having something less frustrating and more stable. For all the upside of the switch, however, the process of learning while in the middle of producing a couple of  short projects was pretty draining.

Everyone talked about learning. Often about technology. Often about the frustrations of learning new technology. Most of us on staff are not IT people. We are people people. (They all are anyway. I’m more of an IT person. I don’t really like people. But don’t tell anyone. Please.)

After everyone talked about how it feels to feel trapped by what is so easy for the tech people but so paralyzing for normal people, I said, “That’s what it’s like for most of the people we talk to about church stuff and God stuff.”

“Having a problem? Just pray,” we say.

“But how do I just pray, ” someone asks.

“You just talk to God.” we say.

“But what if I do and I don’t hear anything?”

“Just read the Bible.”

“But where do I start?”

“I dunno.”

I was privileged to guest write for Jonny Rose on Sunday: I blog on a Sunday.

8 thoughts on “Learning is hard when you don’t know something.

  1. Wesley

    That’s utterly brilliant! I’ve taught myself a fair amount of IT based skills over the years and it’s not been terribly challenging.
    I’m also an alcoholic/addict and have been in recovery for 2 yrs and I still don’t really get how to talk to God. Everyone says ‘just do it’ and I often feel like I’m coming up short.

    Brilliant post, thank you again


    1. Jon Swanson

      Wesley, that’s the part of the challenge for us. What is the expectation? What is “doing it”? Of course, I struggle with that all the time with all the people around me. How to talk to them. How to talk to you. (not you, Wesley, in particular, but, well, see what I mean?)



  2. Stu Mark

    My opinion: Change the word “hard” to “fun.” – It’s all a matter of perspective. If you see the tech stuff as hard, it’ll be hard. If you see it as fun, it’ll be fun. Same with God talk. – When people ask me about God and prayer and how to handle tough situations through faith, I talk about the fun, or the relief, or the ease of prayer/God/Faith. I keep the perspective upbeat. When someone says to me,

    “Keeping my faith is a real challenge,”

    I respond, “Yeah, I know, isn’t that excellent?”

    “What? How can that be a good thing?”

    “You’re a smart person, an intellectual person. That’s why you do crossword puzzles or things like that. Because the challenge keeps you from becoming bored. Faith is just another puzzle. God is just another mystery. That is the great gift of God, to keep you occupied, to give you something to puzzle over and distract you while you’re going through the tough times.”

    But that’s just me.


    1. Jon Swanson

      thanks Stu. Sometimes the struggle is part of the challenge. If faith were obvious, it wouldn’t take faith. And I like the distinction you make between faith/puzzle and God/mystery.

      However, for myself, there are times that I don’t particularly want faith. I want someone. I want a conversation. I want presence.


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