I am a strong believer in being an L3 leader (Life Long Learner). Over the years, I’ve led a lot of training experiences for pastors and group leaders. I’ve also participated in a lot of training experiences as an attendee. Because you and I invest time, money, and energy attending a training experience, we must get the most out of it. Too many times a person attends a training experience, learns some new things, gets excited, perhaps even buys some resources at the event, but does not follow through on a desire to grow further. I’ve done that myself! I’ve come home from a training experience with a sense of excitement about learning more and implementing some changes, but life sets in and business crowds out my plans to surge forward. I forget to go back and read my conference notes. I don’t read that book I bought. I don’t maximize my training experiences that way.
How can you maximize a training event you’ve had the opportunity to attend? Here are four things that I’m doing to get the most out of training experiences I attend:
- Read – Don’t watch live TV on the flight to your training event. On a recent trip, I had four hours in the air, so I read a book on the way. Because of this, I gained new insights before the conference even started. I’ll do the same on the way home and get in a total of eight hours of reading. If you are driving to an event, consider listening to a digital book or educational podcast. Digital files go with you on your smartphone, so your car becomes a mobile university.
- Reflect – Take detailed notes in the conferences you attend, and do the same during times when a plenary speaker is on the stage. Go back through your notes and place an asterisk by things you want to learn more about. If you don’t spend time reflecting, your note taking efforts are pretty useless. Dr. Howard Hendricks once said the secret to learning was in reflecting. He maintained that you should reflect on an experience for at least as long as the duration of that experience. So in his opinion, if you read a book for an hour, you should reflect on it an hour. If you were in a 2-hour conference, reflect on its contents for two hours.
- Relax – There comes a time when it’s time to say, “That’s enough.” Don’t feel guilty for enjoying a good meal in the evening, and spending time with fellow conference attendees (or just watching some television or seeing a movie). Part of the goal of training is to break from your normal routine and give your brain a diversion.
- Receive – Don’t attend a training event with the “I know it already” attitude. If you do, you’ve wasted your time. Remain open to receiving new information and ideas. Don’t have the “I should be leading that workshop” mentality. Allow God to teach you new things from people He’s gifted with different experiences. Don’t close yourself off to learning—you’ll be amazed at how much you don’t yet know.
Ken Braddy manages Lifeway’s Ongoing Bible studies, leads his church’s groups ministry, and blogs daily on Sunday School and small groups at kenbraddy.com.