When I was a young boy my art teacher gave us the assignment to draw a tree. I remember setting out with enthusiasm to draw the image of a tree that had formed in my head. After a few moments, I grew frustrated. The lines I had scribbled on my sketchpad looked nothing like a tree. They hardly looked like they resembled anything. So I added a few more strokes. Still no improvement.
Just then I felt the warmth of my teacher’s hand overlaid on mine. With soothing words and smoother gestures she guided my hand to sketch a masterpiece—or so it looked to me. I was so nervous to not screw up what was taking place that it took all my concentration to keep my hand flowing with hers. Soon, the incomprehensible lines I had so strenuously laid on my own magically transformed themselves into elaborate branches, bark and leaves. I was elated. What a prize to show my mom! Those thoughts, however, were abruptly interrupted, “Now, finish the rest.”
I remembered that experience recently when I submitted a portion of a book I had been working on to my writing mentor. A gifted author of numerous awards and best-selling books, including one of my all-time favorites, I was privileged to be mentored by him. The readings he assigned and his insights on my project greatly encouraged me. So, I waited anxiously to learn what he thought about my actual writing.
Finally, his email arrived along with a revised manuscript. What I read was masterful. He had taken my painful strokes and showed me how to turn them into elaborate branches, bark and leaves. As if I were back in art class again he wrote, “This is just a start. Now do this to rest of your work.”
We all need people in our lives to show what’s possible—who can take our modest beginnings and show the way. My art teacher and my writing mentor are two such people. Under their guiding hand I got better. But only because I yielded to their hands-on instruction and added my own feeble effort to it.
My contribution was not nearly as good as theirs, but that’s not the point. It was better than before because of the inspiration of what it could be. They were willing to impart their talent. I was willing to yield to it.
Which brings me to our present topic. Are you a yielded learner?
Yielded learners yield. They submit to the wisdom, insight, and skill of another. Yielded learners know they can’t possibly be best at everything. And, by corollary, they know there’s something they can learn from anyone.
Yielded learners ask themselves, “Is there something I should learn from this person today?”
What assignment has God given you today? To be more loving? Joyful? Restful? Productive? Encouraging? Perhaps someone you meet today is willing to take your hand in theirs and show you the way.
What experiences have you had yielding to the wisdom, insights, skill of another?