“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.” Mark 12:30
Having recently graduated, but also as a dedicated life-learner, I would like to take some time to talk about education. I’ve experienced a myriad of educational molds: public school, private school, homeschool, and online college. I’ve also been blessed to be a tutor and mentor to several young friends. So, what follows is the result of my observation and the experience of both myself and my friends.
Heart. Mind. Soul. Strength. The whole body.
When we talk about education, we often struggle with molds. We think that we should all learn in the same way or at the same pace or from the same experiences. That, somehow, we should fit into the same mold and learn from a cookie-cutter education. But my heart and your heart do not beat the same. Your mind and my mind have different bents. My soul stirs at different things than yours. And your strength is developed differently from mine. So why would we think that our education can be conducted the same way?
The first step to a successful education is the understanding and acceptance that every one of us will learn differently. Albert Einstein once said, “Every one is a genius, but if a fish is judged by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will forever think it is an idiot.” Some of us are fish, some of us are falcons, and some of us are squirrels. Squirrels can climb trees, but they can’t fly. Falcons can fly, but they can’t swim. Fish can swim, but they can’t climb trees. Yet, each of them are good at what they have been designed to do. And so it is with education. We must learn our abilities and our limitations; and what we have been designed to do, that we must do well.
The second step is to recognize that we can’t just develop one area of our persons. As human beings, we are complex and intricate creatures; and to only develop a few areas of our design and neglect others is a shame and harms the completion of our education. So, we must do whole body education. We must develop our heart, mind, soul, and strength. And by doing that, we will become the truest version of ourselves.
What is the heart, mind, soul, and strength? Since I will elaborate each area further in subsequent posts, I will only define and briefly describe each one here. The heart: quite literally, it is an organ that pumps life-giving blood, and if it stops contracting, we will die. But by definition, in the sense in which we are applying it, the heart is the innermost part of our being – who we are. It is our innermost emotions, morals, character, feelings, gut reactions, and inclinations. It is truly the core of who we are. The mind: it is our brain. More specifically, it is where we perceive, analyze information, feel, think, will, and reason. It is the command center for our lives. The soul: it is something we see, but can not physically touch. It is the essence of who we are. It is what animates us, causes us to feel emotion such as empathy or anger, and is the spiritual element. It is what speaks through the eyes to others when no words have been spoken. And it is what makes me, me; and you, you. Lastly, strength: it is muscle and endurance. It is the power to resist force, the capacity to endure, and the embodiment of firmness. Both in a physical sense as well as a metaphysical sense.
Heart. Mind. Soul. Strength. It covers every area of us as humans. Yet, we compartmentalize each area, even to the point of complete neglect, failing to recognize their intricate interdependence . In order to be healthy humans, we must nurture each area. And in order to be healthy Christians, we must not only develop each area, but we must love the Lord with all of our being. But how can we do that it if we neglect one? What if we aren’t developing our soul? Or teaching our heart? Or growing our mind? Or building our strength? Then we cannot obey the first and greatest commandment. And so, we must start from the beginning. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 1:7 And when we have started with the fear of the Lord, then we will be able to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength.