A number of years ago I heard Jim Collins (Good to Great & Built to Last, both get strong recommendations from me) speak at a conference in Colorado. I wrote down this quote that has plagued (and blessed) my life and ministry ever since, “Are you willing to let go of a hard fought expertise, lose the competence you’ve invested years in, in order to master a new expertise and competence that can take you to a new level?”
It’s all about ‘unlearning,’ recognizing that what you know and have is not always the way to the next step, but sometimes the roadblock to it. This is tough for me, but so intriguing and so inviting. My problem is that I don’t like to look stupid (translation: incompetent). At some visceral level I’d rather keep doing what I know how to do and improve it, and maybe kid myself that I can simultaneously learn the new thing and gradually let it replace the old one. That isn’t impossible, but the facts are that I’m too busy (not proud of that) to keep up the old and master the new, and my ties to what I already know undermines my investment in the new. It’s like learning to use your left hand when your right hand is still perfectly able to do everything.
God is in favor of new things. God lets old things die; sheds a tear, but lets them go. Creation implies brand new, not gradually evolving from the old. Resurrection isn’t reworking, it is death and a brand new life.
Another of my life verses:The Lord says, “Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago.Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already—you can see it now!” Isaiah 43.18-19a TEV
As the pastor of Jacob’s Well (www.jacobs-well.net) unlearning is more important than learning for me right now because I’m getting plenty of new ideas, hopes and inspirations. The obstacle is clearing room in my head and heart to allow those great things to take root and grow.
I’ll chase down some of the areas I’m trying to unlearn in postings to come. I’d love to hear what others are willing to unlearn, and what it is that is so attractive, so promising, so wonderful that they are willing to go down that risky path. It must be a treasure of great worth!