Make a Learning Plan (Grow: Part Three)

Even though there are different personality types …
Even though different personality types have definite differences when it comes to planning …
Even though there is not a one-size-fits-all right-way-for-everyone approach to take …

STILL . . . a plan for learning almost always beats NO PLAN.

You favorite football team on game day  has a game plan.

The construction company that is doing the expansion and renovation at Living Word has a building plan.

Amazon has a marketing plan: sell everything, make it accessible, and get it to the customer fast.

If you decide to get a nursing degree at a local college there is a degree plan already designed with all the courses you need to take.

Our federal government getting out of debt: OKAY, NO PLAN! And therefore, we won’t get out from under our national debt.

I hope you get the idea. Plans make all the difference between success and failure. You can always adjust, adapt, loosen up, tighten up, and generally change your plan to match reality. Plans don’t have to be in stone, but generally it does help if they are on paper.

I’ll give you a personal example. First, my motivation and direction …

Participating in the last presidential primaries and then national election motivated me to study presidential leadership and understand the deep divisions in the United States. I was much too ignorant of our history, the issues, the tensions, and therefore, lacked wisdom for what we do as Christians and as a church.

Note, this direction is one that primarily involves reading and learning about a particular part of history. It is also very extensive because this is an area of great interest to me.

Study the American presidents, ideally all of them.
Study in more depth core presidents.
Study the times in which they lived, the primary issues they dealt with, and the big political themes that defined their presidencies.
Study the principles of executive leadership seen in these individuals.
Come to solid understandings of the political realities of the United States that provide wisdom and perspective for being a citizen of the United States.

Now comes the plan…


Give myself the time I need. One president per month is a doable pace. 
Total time is 3+ years of focused learning.
Find the resources I need in my learning style, meaning the best books on the presidents.
Read one book per month for the presidents (and read additional books for the core presidents).
Give myself one hour per day, five days a week, for reading and reflecting.
Keep good notes and indexing of themes, issues, and illustrations.
Visit appropriate historical sites when possible. (I visited President Andrew Jackson’s homestead in Nashville when we were there for a family wedding. I am planning on visiting the James Buchanan home in Lancaster and Dwight Eisenhower’s home in Gettysburg.)
Find the best websites for videos on presidents.
Read presidential speeches.
Read core historical documents involved with our nation.


You have heard the old formula: who, what, when, where, and how. You won’t ever go wrong by asking these questions as you develop a plan. Here is another way to look at the parts of a good plan. It is the way I use to make learning plans.

Have a goal or desired outcome.
For me, a simple goal is to learn about American political history, its major themes and challenges, through a study of the 45 presidents of the United States. You also have smaller and shorter goals that you can use to see the progress you make.

Have a strategy or approach.
For me, my approach is to use my primary learning style of reading, thinking, studying, analysis, etc. That means I read good books. If you want to take a simple interest test to discover your primary learning style CLICK HERE.

Develop a time table.
For me, it is one president per month. That time table provides a measure that I can easily see if I am keeping pace with my plan.

Obtain the resources you need.
This one is so important that I will cover it tomorrow.

Get an overview to get started.
This is one that so many people just skip. Try to get the big picture of what is involved in learning and growing in the field you just chose. Whenever I teach a course, I spend some time giving a high altitude, wide-ranging map of what is involved in this area. So, when I want to start learning in a new area, I start out with a good overview introduction to the topic. It is easy to find summaries on the Internet. I also really like the book series For Dummies and For Complete Idiots. You can learn a lot from an introduction.

Work at being sequential and progressive.
In other words, start small and easy, and slowly add levels of difficulty as you learn and get better at what you are doing. If you decide you want to learn to play guitar, you start with the basic chords. You don’t start off with the complex voicings of jazz chords (at least not if you want to still be learning guitar next week). Sequence and progressive difficulty is how all good learning takes place.


These are basic chords for beginners. Simple to play.

These are complex jazz chords. Very difficult to play.

I have spent a vast amount of my time LEARNING and GROWING. Part of my calling is to help others learn, grow, develop, mature, and deepen in all the things that matter most to them.

May God give you the wisdom you need for the learning that is ahead of you.

Pastor Brian


Brian Rice
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