We must commit ourselves to a lifetime of learning.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered,
you will never grow."
We will either shape our future or we will be shaped by it.
When we choose to be the best we can, that will make a profound difference in our life.
Those who continue to learn throughout their life generally experience much higher levels
of life and career fulfillment.
We must continue to invest in ourselves.
We must continue to grow in knowledge of our chosen fields.
Yet few people ever commit themselves to meaningful self-development.
I have read that 23 million adults, or about 15 percent of the American work force, are functional illiterates.
As consumers demand higher standards of service and product performance,
even entry-level positions will require increasing knowledge and skills.
Under these demanding conditions, the American educational system has slipped
to number twelve in the world and appears to continue the decline.
Many companies in corporate America can no longer rely on high school or even college graduates
to perform at expected levels.
U.S. companies spend more than $210 billion annually on training and development just to keep pace
with present demands.
Executive, technical, and professional levels require more brain power as well.
This is certainly true in the ministry.
So many more skills are demanded of today's minister than ever before.
Even farming and garbage disposal have now become high-tech.
Informational life span is three years in the computer field and five years in the medical field.
This means that approximately one-half of what a computer expert knows will be obsolete in three years.
In the medical profession, one-half of what the physician knows will be obsolete in five years.
If your surgeon hasn't participated in continuing education for the last 10 years,
then he has not kept pace.
Would you want him to perform surgery on you?
One self-renewal principle is called, "sharpening the saw."
Here is an individual working feverishly to cut down a large tree.
Another person, observing his hard work, asks him why he doesn't take a break to sharpen the saw.
"I don't have time to sharpen the saw," replies the worker. "I'm too busy sawing."
Are you so busy sawing that you don't have time to renew yourself physically, mentally,
physically, and professionally?
Are you pausing to keep yourself fresh and alive?
If you don't pause for the systematic renewing of your skills, you might find yourself obsolete!
If you don't develop your competitive edge, your competitors will edge you out.
As pastors, our competitors are the flesh, the world and the devil.
That is stiff competition!
But, as we grow in Christ, the victory is ours, because "greater is he who is in us than he
who is in the world."
Pastor, how much do you read?
Earl Nightingale was observed that only one hour of study per day in your chosen field of interest
would place you at the top in only three years, and would position you to be a national authority
in five years, and would make you an internationally renown expert in seven years.
Yet, the average American adult reads less than one book per year.
And 58 percent of the American population never read another nonfiction book cover to cover
after their high school years.
A working adult spends between 500 and 1000 hours per year behind the wheel of the car.
This works out to 12 1/2 to 25 work weeks per year.
This is a time that you could learn from audiotapes.
Is this lost time or is it a golden opportunity to learn?
What if you gained one or two new ideas per day through this process?
What if you actively applied these ideas?
Such ideas could pay dividends to your employer -- and multiply them also to you.
I'm not sure that many employees would agree with statement of Brian Tracy.
He stated, "You are paid exactly what you are worth -- no more, no less."
If you are not paid enough, then commit yourself to increase your value.
Commit yourself to being so good at what you do that when a special need arises, others will think of you
as the needed resource.
A key strategy to reach this level in your life is to constantly seek to improve yourself in every way.
Love to learn.
Don't look for shortcuts.
Don't expect sensational results without a commitment.
Be willing to do whatever it takes to be the best that you can be.
It will be worth the investment.
Be prepared to act wisely.
Life doesn't just happen; we create the results we experience.
What are you creating in your life? Your career? Your church? Your relationships?
If you don't like what you're getting back in life, then you should examine what you are putting into it.
John Wooden, former UCLA basketball coach, wisely said:
"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."
We must never become satisfied with our personal and professional development.
Complacency is the first step toward the extinction of our career.
When we become satisfied, the inner drive to change and innovate diminishes.
Dissatisfaction can become our best motivator.
When we mentioned our competitive energy, we were not referring to beating others, we were emphasizing
that we should be the very best we can be.
Our focus should not be getting better than the others; it should be just being the best we can be.
Don't cheat yourself!
When you increase your value, others will attribute more value to you.
Commit yourself to be the best that you can be!
-- Adapted form several sources