Friday, January 20, 2017

Renew the Love You Had At First

I have come across critics of our meetings that claim our meetings are boring. I have never felt that way. I always immediately counter that they are educational but then ask why they think our meetings are boring. Typically, they are used to more emotionalism (entertainment, singing, outbursts of “praise Jesus,” and more). I don’t know where these others are getting their precedent for formulating their worship; we get ours from scripture.  Starting with the Israelites in the time of Moses, Deuteronomy 6:6-7 reads: "And these words that I am commanding you today must prove to be on your heart; and you must inculcate them in your son and speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up." Then, with the start of the early Christian congregations, the book of Acts records the right attitude of believers at Acts 17:11, which indicates that it is noble-minded to examine the scriptures and make sure of our conviction and beliefs. (See also Nehemiah 8:8)

But I have noticed even among some believers that keeping the zeal of participation and attentive reflection going can be a challenge. Preparing for all meetings, even reflecting on how I would teach the material helped me keep focused. But even beyond that, after a few years in serving Jehovah, and developing good study habits, I realized that I knew the subjects discussed at the meetings so well, that I became mentally lazy in listening. It is said that the mind can wonder on any subject because it can process things much faster than the spoken word. Now, I’ve always taken notes – it helps to keep my mind focused. But that got distracting after a while. The fact was, it took me years to test various note-taking methods and find one that worked for me. I wanted something that was both mentally engaging and succinct enough to capture the ideas.

For the first decade or so I couldn’t find such a method, so I decided to take a different type of note. One thing I did was to take notes, not on the actual material, but on the speaker's illustrations and development of his reasoning points. I started keeping a notebook of illustrations and reasoning points. Now I had a purpose in keeping notes – to better my own speaking and presentation skills. To this day, I still do this. In fact, some of the illustrations have been immortalized in my illustration blog.

After about a decade of attending meetings, I finally developed a note-taking form that encourages progressive note-taking by capturing the main point, the main supporting scripture, and reasoning or illustration. At the end of the form, I’d write some brief notes on lessons learned. This challenging form actually made listening fun again.

Finally, sometime around the year 2000, I read about a type of visual relationships note-taking method called mind mapping. I love it because at the end of the discourse, I can immediately see how all the points are related to whatever the subject/theme was.

With all the above, my motive has always been to continually renew the love I had at first. If you haven’t yet clicked on the above links and are interested in the note-taking methods I mentioned, the links will take you to copies of those forms and methods.

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