In the United States and so many other places where Americans are located, we just celebrated her 241st birthday yesterday. For many it was a day of boating, picnics, family, and fireworks. It was also a day of reminiscing about other times the holiday was celebrated. Some may have given a brief thought of the Founding Fathers who had sat for days in Philadelphia’s sweltering heat debating the step they ultimately took. They were overall quite a group of men. Most were classically educated and had read the great histories of nations long since gone. They knew what had failed. Now they were learning from one another and hoping they would succeed in a great triumph at risk to their very lives.
So many in 1776 learned by working with, alongside, or under someone else. Apprenticeships were sought after and an excellent way to start to gain a footing into adulthood.
Certainly there are some apprenticeships today, but they are certainly not the norm. In an earlier era, they were common for any and all adult skills and future work and life.
Internships are a little more common today with certain professions and they serve a great value. I experienced one on the way to becoming a professional clinical counselor. It was the very best way to learn before I had to prove to the rest of the world that I could do what the diploma and certificates on the wall said that I could do.
I wonder if we have left this key learning tool behind. Now we count on books, the Internet, and You Tube to learn something new or advance our skill in some area. They are all great tools. We even rarely head off to a library as we once did, but there is a piece we lose that may be more significant than we realize.
An apprenticeship (or internship) doesn’t just teach us facts or tell us how to do something. We gain the relationship with a master in the area we are seeking to learn or become proficient at. We also pick up other things as well (a rather lengthy list I can’t fully include). We develop character, consistency, and an ability to work for and submit to someone else. We also learn more about how to communicate and develop connections with others in the area we are learning that sets up a network that may help us grow more and offer opportunities for other work.
In our faith area, apprenticeship was common at one time but we called it discipleship. It was that key piece where we learned to live like Jesus by spending time with a seasoned believer who had been tested and lived out his or her faith in the practical, daily nitty-gritty areas of life.
When Jesus walked the earth, His disciples learned by spending time with Him. They were not only being taught, but also watching how He did what He did. Certainly they missed a lot in those three years with Him, but yet it was enough to allow them to be used to turn the world upside down.
I read a book a number of years ago entitled Apprenticeship with Jesus (Learning to Live Like the Master) by Gary W. Moon that framed a 30 day experience with practices of things to help a believer to develop more of what it means to look like Jesus in daily life.
Many of us have not had any formal discipleship program in any area of our lives, but I think we need to consider the many informal ways we learn such things if those ahead of us on the journey are to live out His ways on purpose. I actually think we would be surprised how much of a living letter we may be without paying attention and doing so on purpose. Whether we pay attention or not, others are catching a message.
Have our lives truly been transformed since we came to know the Lord? Sometimes we can be lost in our intellectual study of Him without really being transformed in every area of our lives to look like Him.
I love what Gary Moon says in Apprenticeship with Jesus:
“If we are going to deal with the breakdown of ‘good enough Christianity,’ that is, Christianity without transformation, we must also step into and experience the solution, an apprenticeship with Jesus.”