Sattler Values: LearningWritten by Christopher Kelly
Before Sattler, I thought that learning simply meant getting hold of certain facts, possibly repeating them to other people, and passing a test. Although I certainly cared about applying the information I learned to useful tasks, it did not form a bigger picture for me; I did not recognize how learning could also be a part of character-building. Being a student at Sattler, though, has helped redefine my view of learning. Like all things in life, learning starts with a reason. It may be as simple as “I like this subject,” but when our reason for learning involves more passionate and long-term endeavors, it often goes hand in hand with our vision for our lives–with our vision of the kind of person we want to become. You may want to help cure illnesses, so you become a doctor. You may want to fix worldwide problems, so you start a non-profit. You may want to communicate stories and lessons to other people, so you get involved in theater. But importantly, these visions are fruitful when we seek to understand the person we want to become in relation to God and others first, rather than seeking to forge our identity and purpose on our own. Thus, I will discuss learning centered on God, on others, and finally, on self.
Learning in Relation to God
When God is your ultimate focus of learning, you become closer and more connected to Him. He created the universe, and you get to know Him and learn about Him-not just intellectually, but personally. Not only that, but learning about Him gives us the pattern for how to best live our lives. For example, God is the epitome of holiness, and when we learn more about His holiness, we can find a sense of wholeness by applying that holiness to our lives. Knowing God better, then, capitalizes on the best focus of learning there is and brings us closer to Him. This is what I appreciate most about receiving my education at a Christian college like Sattler. Why give up that opportunity?
Learning in Relation to Others
Knowing the compassionate character of God through Christ’s life, we then become eager to learn how we can serve others and help to better their lives. Because most colleges in America simply stress that they offer students career advancement, academic learning typically appears to be just about helping students get ahead in our society. But coming to Sattler helped remind me that academic learning can be oriented toward equipping students to help other people. This approach has made learning in college much more exciting and fulfilling.
When Jesus told us the two greatest commandments, he gave us the best approach to learning: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:37-39). If we are to love our God and our neighbors, we have to learn to know them. For how can we love someone we do not spend time learning to know? Likewise, how can we show love to others if we do not spend time learning to know how to serve them? I am excited that Sattler has given me a biblical basis for investing time to learn skills that I can use to assist others.
Learning in Relation to Self
Finally, learning can be undertaken to develop a fuller sense of our individual talents once we have a firm understanding of ourselves in relation to our Creator and our obligations to the other people He loves. When we find learning to be “fun” for ourselves, it is a sign that we are living into an area of study that God designed us specially to develop. He delights to see us enjoy the arts and sciences that He crafted, and He is glorified when we discover and develop the talents He gave us out of appreciation for His handiwork. When this happens, we feel our “self” fulfilled and whole.
To sum up, learning can be undertaken with God, others and self in mind. At Sattler, my learning has become more focused on God and helping other people than it previously was. I can still learn for my enjoyment, but if I stop learning about God or if I stop learning information that I can use to help people, I feel like I am missing the key lessons. Learning more about God and how to reach more people with His love is now an integral part of my life. And this is a kind of learning that will not stop when I graduate from college and choose a “career.” Sattler’s approach to learning is one that I will carry with me my whole life long and try to pass on.