I recently heard Carl George, a friend of Parkview’s and a noted thinker and consultant on church life, talk about a “learning contract.” He was talking about it in terms of apprenticeship and mentoring but I found that you could say the same things about our growth as disciples or “apprentices” of Jesus. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard
…I’d like to grow, but where do I start?
…I don’t know why I’m stuck here and not moving forward.
…I don’t know why I can’t seem to get out of this spiritual rut.
…I’ve really lost track of God in my life.
Let’s create a “learning contract” with Jesus. Get a sheet of paper and answer the following:
- What do you do well? This would be a place to talk about the areas of your life with God (spiritual, physical, mental, relational) where you are seeing growth, change, and maturity. Where are things working or clicking right now?
- What would you like to do better? Here, talk about the places where improvement is needed – where you feel like things are out of hand or out of sorts. How is your physical health? How much sleep are you getting? These are outside elements that can affect everything else in your life – including the way you relate to God.
- How would you like to address this? Here is where the rubber meets the road – don’t just acknowledge struggles, take them on. Usually the best way to address a spiritual weakness is to find a discipline that is the opposite of that weakness. For example, if you’d like to work on speaking less destructively try practicing the discipline of silence on a regular basis. If you find you’re struggling with sexual temptation, go on a media fast for a week where you cut out TV, radio, internet (except for this blog, of course), etc. where a lot of that temptation comes from. Prayer is key here - let God open your eyes to new stuff or old stuff, whatever needs to be dealt with.
The contract will take time to work through and will take dedication in order to keep it together – but more than that we all need someone to hold us to it. Find another person and share your “learning contract” with them so that someone is asking you “How are you doing with ________?” on a regular basis and help you pray for strength when it gets tough.
You can apply this in several areas (leadership, ministry, spiritual growth, marriage) but the cool thing about it is that it makes you conceive of a vision for who you could be (What would you like to do better?) instead of focusing on how bad things are at the present.