Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks
“And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14).
I made a decision after I retired that I was going to spend significant amounts of time learning new things. While as a full-time pastor, I didn’t feel like I had the bandwidth to devote to learning new skills outside of what was necessary for good preaching, pastoral care and for church leadership.
For whatever reason, after I stepped down from senior leadership after 38 years, I felt this great urge to give myself permission to learn new stuff. So, I started with the thing I’ve loved and enjoyed most of my life: mountain biking. I enrolled in Barnett’s Bicycle School and learned the science of bike repair. This has been a great help in bringing my non-profit bike shop to a new level of service and integrity.
Throughout 2020 and early 2021, I’ve also been learning cooking skills, mixology (the art of mixing adult beverages), welding, and movie editing. But the most challenging thing I’m pouring myself into learning is the skill of leadership.
Along with our region staff, I’m being coached with leadership skills using the GiANT Leadership platform (giantworldwide.com). It’s a deep-dive into self-discovery and leadership tools that have been life-changing. I wish I had learned of GiANT leadership years ago. It would have served me in leading my church with much greater insight and direction.
When I read scriptures like Titus (chapter 3 and especially verse 14), I’m convicted to “up my game” in learning and in growing – not just for my own benefit and enjoyment, but more specifically, for the benefit of others.
In these times of trouble, sickness, death, tragedy, pain, loneliness, hatred, and fear, I believe that it’s incumbent upon followers of Jesus to apply ourselves to the needs around us. “Learn to devote” ourselves to others in “fruitful” ways.
I’ve been trying to apply that directive by cooking and mixing for neighbors in need. I’ve been happily building and repairing bikes for dozens of people. I’ve been using newly discovered leadership skills to help others learn about themselves.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that the mission of Jesus on earth is always accomplished in the exact same way: serving others in love and in changing lives “one action at a time.”
Whatever this old dog learns, I must then turn that insight and skill outwardly. It’s not just for me and my pleasure, it’s actually for the benefit and good of others, which in return, actually gives me the greatest pleasure.
Dear God, help us to live fruitful lives in service to others for their good and for Your glory. Amen.
Pastor Kim Skattum
American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains