I love learning. I like increasing my knowledge. Not in a Jeopardy random-facts way, but gathering information and knowledge that I can use to become an authority on any given subject. One of the issues I have from childhood is feeling discarded and unimportant. That wound frequently rears its ugly head when someone responds to something I say in a way that shows they don’t believe I know what I’m talking about, or that they don’t take into consideration who I am and how I work. I can see the big picture, and I have a gift for thinking about processes and all of the details necessary to make something happen. I also think about how decisions impact other aspects of the business. That’s just how my brain works, and it’s one reason why I was a good teacher and now I can excel in the field of Human Resources.
Since desiring validation from others is one of my—albeit unhealthy—motivating factors, I thought I could pair that with my enjoyment of learning by getting an HR certification. After researching my choices, I narrowed down my options to the PHR, Professional in Human Resources, or the SPHR, Senior Professional in Human Resources. I found myself torn between the two, because I felt confident in my ability to understand and apply the knowledge necessary to run the daily operations of my HR Department, which is in alignment with the PHR. Plus, I tend to choose activities that I feel confident I’d be successful at. I viewed the senior option with more trepidation, as that focus was more on strategic planning and business, which I don’t have as much experience with. I frequently provide the knowledge that guides decisions and establishes policies, but I pass that information on to my boss who is the one with a seat at the decision-making table. Pursuing the SPHR would be harder and require more work on my part, but I decided I needed to pursue the SPHR certification that reflected where I wanted to go in my career instead of where I currently am.
I signed up for a 12-week online class to help me prepare for my exam. I was excited and eagerly anticipated all of the learning I was about to do. Two weeks before class started, the materials arrived in the mail. That’s when the panic hit. When I took a look at the books, syllabus, study guide, and flashcards, I was struck by how much reading I was going to have to do. Before the first class, I was expected to take two pre-tests and read five chapters. I have not had to do this much required reading since college, and that was a good 30 years ago!
Image courtesy of Lorianne Lee
I’ve always considered myself a life-long learner and enjoy going to workshops and seminars for professional development. I have no problem applying what I learn from those trainings to my work. However, this certification prep class is a very different kind of learning. Memorizing names and dates of laws and remembering the actual theory names are much harder for me. I have a horrible memory for those types of details.
Since I know memorizing facts is not a strength for me, I am trying to do as many things as I can to set myself up for success. I am keeping up with the reading by doing a chapter a day (or catching up on the weekend). I’ve placed each unit’s flashcards in little Ziploc bags and carry my current unit in my purse. Whenever I find myself needing to wait or have a few minutes, I’ll review the flashcards. I’ll even review them while I’m eating lunch at work. I figured out the online textbooks were available as audiobooks, so I listen to the material while I’m driving. I reserve a conference room at work twice a week, from five to six-thirty in the evening, so I can use a big-screen TV and my laptop to follow the presenter and interact with my cohort on Slack.
Image courtesy of Lorianne Lee
I am taking this seriously. This is my fourth week, and I am not budging on this commitment. I have been spending less time watching TV and playing on social media, and I am getting it done.
Just the other day it hit me: I can devote this much time and energy towards this certification endeavor, so why can’t I replicate this same level of commitment with God?
I’ve tried various spiritual disciplines at different times, but none have really stuck long-term. I’ve tried blocking off time on my calendar, but I didn’t hold fast to those appointments with God. One practice that worked well, although for only a season, was reading a devotional during my lunch break. My car radio is locked into Christian radio, but I haven’t tried listening to devotionals or Bible studies while I drive. If an audiobook is available for my textbook, I imagine the Bible and other devotionals would be available as audiobooks too. I know people who memorize scriptures the same way I study my class flashcards.
So, what is the difference? Is it that I have a definitive end date for my class? Do I need that time frame versus having an indefinite amount of time to grow my relationship with God? Do I make this class a priority because it’s only here temporarily, whereas God will always be there? Is it because the class and test are actual things I can see and touch? Why don’t I give God the same, if not higher, level of commitment than I am giving to this HR certification process?
I hear the shame from the Enemy as I type this. Maybe instead of beating myself up and feeling guilty for not prioritizing God, I can use this as a learning opportunity. I’ve established habits and practices to help me be successful with my class. There is no reason why I couldn’t apply the same strategies for drawing closer to God. See? I’m still learning.
Lorianne Lee is one of the old-timers here at The River, having been a part of our church since our Sunnyvale days. She has been an active member of our community serving in a variety of ministries, mentoring, volunteering, and participating in and leading small groups. Lorianne is a doer, always finding herself busy and out of time. She is currently in a season of trying to slow down so she can be more present to God and those around her.