Are You Leaking and Learning as Leaders?

Interim Ministry Workshop, Tuesday-Thursday March 14–16, 2023, Heritage Christian University, Florence, Alabama

Lack of adequate rainfall produces a dry river and empty reservoirs. Lack of study and meaningful interaction with helpful people can result in a dry and empty person.

Are you leaking and learning, or just leaking?

I’ve been leaking all my life. My forgettery works better than my memory. If I don’t learn and relearn, I’ll be dry soon.

Much of what I learned earlier is no longer true. We used to pray for the 6,000,000 souls in the world. That was 1999. 7,000,000 came in 2011. We hit 8,000,000 last month. Illustrations get out of date. I told about a car having water in the carburetor and had to explain what a carburetor was. They went out in the 1980s.

If I don’t keep learning, many won’t understand what I’m saying. Some of what I’m saying will be inaccurate. I won’t communicate with younger people.

I’m leaking, but am I learning?

During my twenties, several people warned me of the danger of the age of thirty for a preacher. Their observation was many preachers started declining at age thirty. They’d studied hard in their first work. They were fresh out of school. They were filled with enthusiasm. People had given them books. They’d bought books. They wanted to do and be the best.

Then, they’d taken more jobs. Perhaps burnout was a problem. Maybe they’d moved a time or two. They had old sermons they could reuse. They started leaking because they stopped learning. I doubled down when I reached thirty. I knew I was leaking. I was determined to keep learning.

This principle is not only true for preachers but also for elders, deacons, teachers, and all Christians. What is your continuing education plan? How do you learn from others? I see ads for preachers in our papers. The desired preacher must have graduated from a brotherhood university or preachers’ training school. What are the expectations for elders? Many preachers are expected to attend lectureships to get content and methods to make them more effective. Do elders, deacons, and other members feel the same need?

A man’s IQ and information bank don’t expand and explode the day he’s appointed a shepherd. A preacher isn’t educated for life when he graduates from a Christian university with a B.A., M.A., M.Div., P.h.D., or a two-year preacher school, even if it’s the best and the only sound one in the brotherhood.

Elders, preachers, and others are leaking. But are we learning?

I hear many who are concerned about the curriculum in the Bible classes in the congregation. I understand. That’s important. I’ve rarely heard parents discuss the curriculum for the continuing spiritual education of the parents and children in the home. Some education in the home (and church) needs to be for large groups to teach and study the entirety of the Bible at appropriate ages. King Manasseh killing his son might not be the best Bible story for a five-year-old. Some classes need to be in smaller groups to meet the needs of certain ages. Some topics should be individual studies to meet individual needs, opportunities, and challenges.

There’re so many tools and opportunities to expand our knowledge and explore new ideas: books, podcasts, lectureships, recorded books, online learning, Zoom groups, and meetings with others who have similar interests and struggles. As of 2022, there are 2.4 million podcasts. Many can teach and encourage elders and preachers. We can listen to them driving, shaving, walking, and running.

From my first full-time preaching work to the present, I’ve always had a monthly group for study, support, and encouragement. The one in the Middle Tennessee area has been meeting for thirty-four years: 3rd Monday Workshop. It’s been a source for me to be challenged, charged, and comforted each month.

The need is great. The consequences are evident. Spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally, you and I are either growing or dying. If you and I are leaders and we find our church or family is dry, dull, and not growing in some way, the place to start looking is within ourselves. We need to start our own rain dance before our reservoir is empty.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow explained how to stay alive as one ages:

To those who ask how I can write so many things that sound as if I were as happy as a boy, please say that there is in the neighboring town a pear tree, planted by Governor Endicott 200 years ago, and it still bears fruit not to be distinguished from that of a young tree in flavor. I suppose the tree makes new wood every year, so that some parts of it are always young.

Are you leaking and learning, or just leaking?

How many Continuing Education Units have you completed this year?

Interim Ministry Workshop, Tuesday-Thursday March 14-16, 2023, Heritage Christian University, Florence, Alabama

(Visited 404 times, 50 visits today)
Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

4 Responses to “Are You Leaking and Learning as Leaders?

  • John H. Williams
    1 year ago

    Great thoughts, Jerrie! Would that every congregation thought as seriously as you do about its education program and about continuing education for its leadership.

    • John,

      Thank you.

      After I read your comment, I thought: how would I like to have a doctor who hadn’t studied, read, attended additional classes, and never discussed his cases with fellow physicians? He thinks he knows it all and wants no help to learn more.

  • Mike Gurganus
    1 year ago

    Thanks, Jerrie. Much needed by me… and possibly a few others.

    • Mike,

      Congratulations on your long and effective ministry at Ringgold and other locations.

      May God bless you as you switch gears and serve in other ways and places.

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