Lifelong learning

Being disciple-makers and students go hand in hand, Driesell says

January 20, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.

“Learning is perhaps an accumulation of moments that form us,” the Rev. Pam Driesell told the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Disciple-Making Church Conference here Jan. 17.

We might not remember the exact moment we learned something new, but we know that we have, said Driesell, pastor of Atlanta’s Trinity Presbyterian Church, adding that learning is more than just facts.

In Matthew 23, Jesus tells the crowd that they’re all students, Driesell said and if Presbyterians want to be a disciple-making church, they must remember this.

“We must be students before we are teachers,” she said. “We must demonstrate our own discipleship by understanding ourselves to be students.”

We’re all vulnerable to caring more about appearances that reality and to seek positions of honor, Driesell said. But Jesus also warns the crowd to not use titles but to know that Jesus is the only teacher.

“The rest of us are students — all of us,” Driesell said.

People will always put pastors on a pedestal but, she said, “It is your job to constantly step down and announce in word and deed that you are a student of Jesus,” she said.

The essence of our Reformed theology is knowing that we can “get it wrong.” And as a coach’s daughter accustomed to viewing game films after every game, Driesell said she’s learned that we can get it wrong even when we’re winning. No one is perfect, and so we must humble ourselves.

So how do we listen for the voice of the Spirit? The underlying concept of the Book of Order is that a prayerful group of people is better able to discern the will of God than an individual. We must really listen to each other and be willing to be influenced by what we hear.

“You cannot, by the way, be defensive and open at the same time,” Driesell said.

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