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.

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27 Replies to “Instruction & Training”

  1. It is tough to realize that training involves pain at times and struggles and heartache. I wish there were better ways. I do know going through the fire and growing from it allows you to be an encouragement to others as they struggle through life. It is tough to tell our kids that life is rough and can be hell at times. We want them to not have to struggle. I think we realize there is value in struggle for it makes you into what you were not before. It molds you into a stronger person. Easy really does nothing for the soul except refresh it at times. It is the struggles and working through them that marks one's soul and fashions a strong character.

    I am sure I have shared this quote before but it is one of my all time favorite….. “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” —- Kahlil Gibran

    1. My youngest son has several noticeable scars on his head from a dog bit and some other injuries. This was before he came to us. He sometimes says he wishes that he didn't have them, but I have encouraged him to be okay with them because they tell a story about where he came from. I think there's more to teach him about his scars. He has so much to learn from the struggles he has had, and it's my job as a parent to help him see that and to develop his character. My oldest can learn from the scars of my youngest too, and he can be thankful for his relatively scar-free life thus far. Both can do great this with tremendous character because of these scars. Great quote & great points, Mark!

      1. Kari,
        I would tell your son that we all have scars…. some visible but most are not. Scars are part of who we are; they are reminders and also warnings. It is good to realize that everyone lives with scars.

  2. I think a lot of times we don't really get God's training program until years and years afterwards. I know I've seen this in my life. You go through seemingly random experiences and periods of pain – but then it all comes together at some point.

  3. Kari,

    i see what you are saying as the difference between "winning people to Jesus" and "training them in their new life" in order to reproduce. We can instruct people but training them is often kicked to the curb. We let them fend for themselves. The church would be taken to a whole new level if we discipled people as we should. Sorry if this is off target.

    1. We definitely do a good job at instructing in many cases but then drop the ball when it comes to training, which is more of an individualized act that requires connecting with who a person is. Can you imagine what that whole new level would look like? I mean, look at what happened with the disciples that Jesus not only instructed but trained!

  4. This is an important and touching post Kari, thanks for sharing. God refines with fire, but no one like being burned. It can be a real lesson in trust to stay on track when you are in the fire and trust God will see you through. Am so glad He has and will continue to do that. I like cycleguy's link to the church, so true.

  5. Part of my job is as an IT related trainer. I can instruct people on the use of technology all day long, but until it comes to a real life application and hands on training experience, they grasp very little.

    The instruction part as you said is necessary, but it goes hand in hand with the training. The training engages people and can cause stress, but it is also where they learn to apply the instruction.

    1. Great example, Dusty. I used go teach basic Word classes to beginners, but I hadn’t recalled that connection until your comment. I really like the word “engaging” to describe training. Really gets at one of the points I wanted to make about customized training.

  6. We have far too many people who's heads are filled with knowledge — and no practical outworking. And that goes for those in the church too. Great post.

  7. I was just having this discussion with someone today actually. I like how you broke down the difference between training and instruction–excellent. We have to be challenged or we don't grow. A head full of knowledge is fine, but a life of surrendered faith is much more fruitful! Thanks so much, Kari.

  8. I love how God knows what each of us needs. He is the best parent ever.

    Before I had a kid it was easy to look at others parenting and judge it (either nicely or not) but now that I have a kid I see that parenting isn't as "easy" as I'd thought. My son challenges me in ways I never realized. Having a kid has brought me to my knees seeking God's guidance more than any other thing or person in my life. My walk with Christ has grown because of my son. I think that's part of the reason why satan had me so convinced I'd never have kids and believing the doctors were right and I'd never be able to have one. Satan is such a liar!

    Great post.

    1. You are so right, TC! I used to – and still do sometimes – judge others parenting. Shame on me! Before it was out of ignorance. And even until we adopted our youngest, we didn't realize what it meant to have a boy that was "all boy." I mean, our oldest is definitely a boy, but he's nothing compared to his rambunctious younger brother. And I love the connection you made about Satan lying to people about not becoming parents because he knows how much it can draw us to Christ. In fact, many families return to the church when they have kids and after having been away for years. I have definitely learned through my kids what a free will looks like from the other side. I can do everything right and still not have my child behave. Thanks for the additional thoughts!

  9. There is something VERY formative about pain. It teaches us not to touch fire, for instance. It can also teach us not to trust. It is a wise parent who is able to use the pain to teach their children well. God is just such a parent. He's such an amazing Father, isn't He? I hope we can all be so wise with our children. And I hope that I can learn to appreciate the lessons I've learned in the most painful parts of the fire.

  10. Great post, Kari. I am reminded of the road we have walked with our son, who is on the autism spectrum. We have had to learn to allow him to endure difficult situations (especially loud places, shrill laughter of women and crying babies) that may or may not lead to a meltdown in order for him to see that he could get through those moments and that each time we allowed the moments to come, and each time he made it through without a meltdown, the better he was able to manage those things the next time they came around. It was so hard to just allow those things….it was always much easier to try to avoid the painful and anxiety producing situations, but it didn't help our son at all. In fact, we were hurting him by not allowing him the opportunity to grow. God has grown us all through it…our whole family. Just instructing him that the loud noises would be over soon was not enough. His experiencing the stress and pain and anxiety, and pressing through it is what really trained him to be able to manage those things. It is so hard to do, but so worth it. I am grateful that this is how God loves and trains us, His children.

    1. Wow, Joell! What a great example of what Sorge talks about. This example inspires me too, realizing that we just never know what or why. We just can't make assumptions about this kind of stuff. What you are doing for your son will be so beneficial to him in the future. I mean, I know it is already, but it will be even more so later in life. Doesn't that just keep you going, sometimes? This knowing that what you are doing will have a ripple affect that impacts his whole life? Keeps me moving forward in tough times, that's for sure.

      1. Our son has come SO far and is doing incredibly well. Jacob has worked so hard and it is so awesome to see where he is today. It is a blessing. Every time we see him have success, we know that there will only be more success to follow–yes, it definitely propels us all forward! To God be the glory! 🙂

        1. Amen! I totally get what you say about how hard your son has worked. People tell us "good parenting" or whatever, but I am just so aware of how hard our son has worked to improve. He amazes me. God has done an amazing work in both our boys!

  11. I believe Joyce Meyer said that we are mostly educated well beyond our level of obedience. Now if we could let that education become practical and applied – in obedience – how much further might we advance the cause of Christ?

    Great post, Kari!

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