The next man took the stage and began to speak. I missed the first few dozen sentences he said, because it sounded like the teacher from the Peanuts cartoon. I wondered if I’d be able to tune into this person who seemed to speak mostly in a monotone, give very little expression, and begin the presentation with a nearly unreadable PowerPoint slide.
No more than 30 seconds had passed, and I was already settling for a session of boredom. Yet something he said caught my attention, and I shook away the clouds and tried to listen. And as I did, I quickly realized this guy had some great thoughts to share. He was challenging and equipping, and he ended up as one of my favorite teachers of the day.
Yes, he was boring, and I would have preferred he present with a bit more flair or even interest, but why should I let personality get in the way of learning? I realized there are many times I can let boredom get in the way of my own experience.
My mom used to say, “If you’re bored, you’re boring.”
I know she was just trying to motivate me to get up and do something, and I don’t know that the statement is actually accurate, but I started thinking about boredom as I reflected on my response to different speakers. Especially in a society where we expect entertainment, what we mean when we say “I’m bored” is usually “You’re boring.” We’re discontent, and we think it’s someone else’s responsibility to help us become content. If we’re not learning something, we blame the person teaching. If we’re not doing well, we blame the coach, doctor, parent, child, and so on. If we’re angry, fearful, frustrated, or jealous, we blame the person we believe to be the cause of such feelings.
The truth is the teacher is responsible for considering the students’ learning styles and meeting them where they are. The coach is responsible for helping each team member improve. The doctor is responsible for helping to care for the patient. And so on. But all of those responsibilities are not exclusive. Everyone involved has responsibilities, and none of us are void of inadequacies and failures. If the patient refuses to heed the advice of the doctor or has a condition that has no tried-and-true solution, the doctor can still be responsible for what he is supposed to do without being expected to change the outcome. If the team member refuses to practice away from team practice and cooperate with others, it doesn’t mean the coach hasn’t been responsible. When a student doesn’t learn, it’s not always for lack on the part of a teacher.
And as I sat and listened to the boring speaker, I knew that if my goal was to learn something, it didn’t matter whether he was captivating or not. It didn’t matter what my preferred style of teaching and communicating was. If I wanted to learn, I needed to commit to learn. That was my responsibility.
Maybe you don’t care for the style of teaching or music at church. Maybe you find the Bible to be boring or you just can’t focus during prayer. Maybe you don’t want to be part of a small group study because you’re pretty sure you’ll be uncomfortable. Maybe you want things to be more fun than they are…or more serious than they are.
Spiritual growth isn’t about your entertainment.
Spiritually growth is going to take effort to stay engaged at times. You’ll get easily distracted. You’ll be uncomfortable. But what if you set your own expectations and preferences aside? What if you began to approach the very situations you usually avoid because they bore you or don’t meet your needs and fully engage in them with expectations to grow?
You might just learn something.