Instruction & Training

training & instructionWhen I worked in Business Services at a local community college, I helped companies set up customized training programs for employees. During that time, I also witnessed the shift from instruction to training in many traditional college classrooms as well. Community colleges as a whole began to understand the value of instruction plus training rather than just instruction alone.

Instruction involves knowledge imparted with the onus on the person teaching. Those receiving instruction choose either activity or passivity, but instruction takes place regardless.

Training also involves instruction but holds the added element of the acquiring knowledge, skills and competencies as a result. Training requires active participation by both instructor and student.

Training also involves assessing needs and customizing learning. While all individuals may receive the same information, training allows for individuals to receive information in a way unique to how they learn.


Needs AssessmentNeeds assessment

As a parent, I learned the valuable difference between training and instructing when we adopted our youngest son. Up to that point our biological son received a lot of instruction, but his comfortable life failed to involve the practical application that training brings.

Our youngest son, on the other hand, lived through a rather brutal training program called “survival.” But a huge void existed in the area of instruction in character.

Seeing the contrast between our two boys taught me the value of training based on individual needs.

Bob Sorge gets at this idea to in The Fire of Delayed Answers:

“We need more than instruction – we need training. And training means pain. [God] gives us the pain of His merciful intention to preserve our souls to the coming of the Lord Jesus.” (Chapter 4)

Our oldest had instruction but not pain. He lived a comfortable life as an only child, going to church regularly and learning right from wrong. But he knew little of pain, and as a result struggles today with change but does so with consistently solid character.

Our youngest had pain but not instruction. He lived life not knowing where his next meal would come from or where he would sleep at night. He knew discomfort, but he had little instruction to help that training shape him positively. Today, he adapts well to change but struggles with consistently solid character.

customized  trainingCustomized Training

While both our boys need training and instruction to teach them to not allow circumstances dictate behavior and attitude, they need that training customized based on their unique needs. Both receive instruction on living according to God’s Word, but our oldest needs more hands-on training through struggle while our youngest needs more instruction on handling struggles with Godly character instead of merely surviving them.

Sorge emphasizes the importance of training by saying:

“Instructing and teaching our kids will never be sufficient. We need to find ways to train our kids and to allow God to train them as well.” (Chapter 4)

We mistakenly protected our oldest too much at times, not to the extreme as David did with Solomon, but enough to handicap his ability to handle change well. Fortunately, we learned our lesson, made the necessary adjustments, and he now receives more Godly training.

Sorge expresses that lesson by saying,

“God fashions caves for His choice sons; wise parents would do well to permit their children cave experiences within God’s purposes as well, rather than asserting the instinctive tendency to try to steer them clear of pain.” (Chapter 4)

For our oldest, we encourage challenging situations by letting him make more of his own choices. For our youngest, we use his many cave experiences (Sorge’s terminology) to instruct him on living with Godly character. For both, we instruct along the way but allow God to provide the training opportunities.

The long-term success of an individual life lies with submitting to God’s training program, which allows for applying instruction received to real-life situations. God’s training through brokenness, while incredibly challenging, produces true faith because

“God wants us to see that our faith should not waiver whether we feel good in ourselves or whether we feel completely undone.” (Sorge, Chapter 4)

Truly, a consistent faith that honors God above all lies at the heart of God’s training program. Actually, that type of faith IS God’s heart for us.

DISCUSSION: What value do you see in God’s training program?

Welcome to the book club discussion of The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge. Each blogger in the group is reading and then sharing on what inspires, encourages, or challenges them. We’ll be taking 2 weeks per chapter. Our co-facilitators are Jason and Sarah – other active participants include Dusty, Glynn, Joell, TC and Rick. If you know of others, please leave a link for their post in the comments.

Controlled Burn

When on vacation, my family and I enjoy studying facts about the area where we are staying. So, at the start of our Gatlinburg, TN vacation, I bought the book “Great Smoky Mountains Trivia” at the Visitor’s Center.

While our kids had no idea, my husband and I immediately understood the reference to Smokey Bear in a few of the questions. For those of you who are too young to remember, let me educate you on Smokey Bear’s wisdom.

“Only YOU Can Prevent Wildfires.”029c3232ce6c7a15355efd406fb8ecfb

Smokey Bear started telling people about fire danger in 1944. He was a cartoon bear used by the National Forest Service in a campaign to protect national forests from human-caused fires. In the campaign, Smokey Bear often pointed and declared that “Only YOU Can Prevent Wildfires.”

While still active, the campaign now features a realistic-looking bear, still pointing. However, those of us who remember Smokey Bear likely realize the significant absence of this campaign as compared to its heyday.

Great Smoky Mountains Trivia”explains that foresters now recognize fire can benefit nature. Today, park managers decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to fight fires or allow them to clean the forest.

Additionally, the National Forest Service now educates people on the benefits of fire. They still educate about fire safety and being responsible to not carelessly cause a forest fire that could destroy homes and wildlife, but the finger-pointing pressure seems to be off of “YOU” just a bit. In fact, forest experts explain that fire can significantly benefit forests so much so that they sometimes intentionally start or “prescribe” them.

Prescribed FiresAugust 2012 (16)

Known as a “controlled burn,” a prescribed fire “refers to the controlled application of fire by a team of fire experts under specified weather conditions that help restore health to fire-adapted environments.”

Forest experts name the following as benefits of “prescribed fire”:

  1. Reduces excess brush, shrubs & trees that stifle new growth.
  2. Encourages new growth to flourish in space created by burned excess.
  3. Maintains structure for the many plants and animals that need fire to stay healthy.
  4. Reduces catastrophic damage from unplanned fires that destroy homes and other land beyond the forests.

The key with “prescribed fires” lies with their execution at the hands of experts who carefully plan the fires so they can be used in constructive ways.

The Last Days’ Fire

Forest experts understand the benefits of a “prescribed fire,” and that understanding transfers well into what Bob Sorge in “The Fire of Delayed Answers” says about “The Last Days’ Fire.”

Sorge says that “the righteous will understand what this fire is all about. They will embrace the fire, and rather than finding it destructive they will discover it to be constructive in their lives.”

The fire Sorge refers to are the “trials” named in Daniel 12:10: “Many will be purified, cleansed and refined by these trials… Only those who are wise will know what it means.”

Just like forest experts use “prescribed fire” to benefit the forest, God also uses fire to purify, cleanse and refine us. He uses it to prepare us as vessels for “honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).

Without God’s refining fire, we become overgrown with excess. We become distracted, our lives filled to the point that new growth cannot flourish. Even our basic structures become damaged because we can no longer fit in that (fellowship & time with God) which promotes growth.

God’s refining fire, his “controlled burn” in our lives reduces excess. This process purifies and strengthens our love making us increasingly aware of what Sorge describes as the “apathy, greed, lukewarmness, materialism, and the self-indulgent spirit” of the culture in which we live.

Unlike Smokey Bear, God does not point at “YOU” to prevent fire in your life. Instead, He asks that you look to Him as the expert in refining through fire, trusting that His “controlled burn” results in healthier and stronger lives.

DISCUSSION: How do you react to the “controlled burn” of God’s expertise?

This post connects with an Internet Book Study introduced to me by my friend Rick at Planned Peasanthood. In addition to Rick’s posts on the book, be sure to also check out those by Jason, Dusty, Sarah, and Glynn. The “club” covers a chapter in the book “The Fire of Delayed Answers” by Bob Sorge every two weeks.