Sunday, August 21, 2011

Qualities of a Learner

The middle school where I work is part of the International Baccalaureate program. The program is designed to develop students who are able to think beyond their own neighborhoods and cities (and in the case of some middle schoolers, get them to think beyond themselves). One of the things stressed in the IB program is what are called Learner Profile Qualities. As we were discussing these qualities in a class this past week, I was thinking of how these qualities relate to living life as a follower of Jesus. I am going to attempt to put some of these thoughts here in a series of posts. I hope you'll bear with me.

One goal of the IB program is to develop life-long learners. If we are followers of Jesus, we are learners. We realize that we don't have all the answers, and that we need constant teaching. We are apprentices who are continually learning to be like our Rabbi. One of the qualities of a learner is caring. I don't know where this quality is ranked in IB, but I think it is the basic quality for a learner of Jesus. The most important command that Jesus gave us is to love each other. John, in his first letter goes so far as to say that if we don't have love we don't really belong to Christ at all. Jesus said that the defining mark of a follower is love for other followers. Beyond that, Jesus said that the second greatest commandment, after love God, is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. A characteristic of the early church is that there were no needy persons among them. We are to care for each other, to love each other, to be willing even to lay down our lives for each other.

A second quality of a learner is being principled. Being principled means doing the right thing, no matter what. This is a quality that some students have a problem with. It is also a problem that sometimes gives learners of Jesus a hard time. It's far too easy to not do the hard things that Jesus calls us to do. Sometimes we try to justify this by reminding others that we are under grace, and doing certain things is just being legalistic. Sometimes we look at something that Jesus clearly wants us to do, and justify not doing it because of other people. Either they aren't doing it so why should we, or I'm not going to do that because certain folks might treat us badly. Like a middle schooler, we are afraid of what our peers think or what they might do, so we excuse our failure to do what is right. We are called to obey Christ no matter what, and to leave the results of that obedience in his hands.

Be caring and principled.

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