Last time, I shared the first two “Lessons from an old guy;” Banish Pride and Stay Open Minded. Today, we’ll finish up with these next two. If you missed Monday’s post, go back and read it–this will make a lot more sense.

Never Stop Learning
You’re starting to see a pattern here, aren’t you? If you’re planning on being involved with technology, you had best be committed to a lifetime of learning. Technology changes pretty fast, and if you don’t keep up with it, you will be left behind. I remember being out of work a few years ago, and doing a lot of networking to find my next position (which should be another post in itself now that I think about it…). I ended up talking with a number of guys who were AS400 programmers in an age when companies had already retired (or were retiring) most of their AS400s. They wanted .NET programmers (of course, no one wants .NET programmers anymore; see how fast this changes!). I had coffee after coffee with these guys who lamented the fact that no one wanted their mad AS400 skills. I said, “Why not just learn .NET?” They all shook their heads and said they were too old. Some of them are still out of work…

When I started doing live sound 25 years ago, I didn’t need to know anything about the RF spectrum, networking, digital signal processing, digital mixers, line arrays, or cardioid subs. Those are just a few things off the top of my head in audio. I’ve learned a lot about all of those things, and I have a lot more to learn. For me, that’s what makes this fun.

I have a few friends from high school that are still doing essentially the same thing now as when we graduated college. When I ask them what’s new at work, they shrug and say, “Ah, not much.” When they ask me, I excitedly go on for 30 minutes before I realize I’ve monopolized the conversation. Would you rather be the bored guy or the one who can’t stop talking about all the fun he’s having at work?

Takeaway: As a young guy or gal in this field, make a commitment now to never stop learning.

Get A Sense Of Humor
This one breaks the mold a little, but it’s nonetheless important. Folks, we work in what can be a highly charged and intense field. It’s important to be able to relax and lighten up a little bit. Several times in the last few months I’ve tweeted something that I thought was pretty obviously funny, tongue in cheek or ironic only to have people immediately @reply shouting “No way! You’re wrong! That’s not right!” And every time I’ve had to say, “People, relax; it’s a joke…” Don’t ever take yourself too seriously; life is way too short for that.

I try to make it my mission to lighten the mood whenever things get intense in our meetings at church. Apparently it’s working because my Exec Pastor stopped me in the hall the other day to tell me he thought something I said in a recent meeting was the funniest thing he’d heard in a while. I think it was a comment about how hard it was to build community in tech teams because by and large, techs don’t even like people that much.

See that? Right there? It’s a joke. Lighten up… If you got defensive for a second, you need to get a sense of humor. Seriously.

What we do is a lot of fun, but if you can’t laugh at yourself, your craft and the funny quirks that we all have, then you’re not going enjoy this work. Make it fun. Sure, what we do is important, and yes we have a high calling. But don’t ever forget that it’s God who is in control and He lets us play around down here for a while. I sometimes imagine God in heaven saying, “Guys, come on, that was funny!”

And if you see something on Twitter that seems off at first, before you hit “Reply” to sound the alarm, consider the source (does this person have a long history of spouting heresy), consider the context (or at least imagine it) then think, “Could this be a joke? Is it actually funny?” Then laugh. It’s OK.

Takeaway: Don’t ever take yourself too seriously, and don’t be afraid to laugh once in a while. It’s good for you.

These are a few of the things I’ve learned over the years. It’s important to note that most of the lessons were learned the hard way as I had no one in my life teaching me. I’ve since learned there are two ways to learn life lessons; make a lot of mistakes and eventually figure it out or learn from someone else. You can take a guess at which is easier.

Finally, I would encourage all of you, young or old, to find someone who can mentor you. We all need someone to speak into our lives, to help us see blind spots and to provide encouragement when we think we’re not getting very far. Finding a good mentor can be tough, but it’s worth the effort. You will find you can be far more effective in life and ministry when you’re meeting regularly with someone who has permission to speak into your life.

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