In general, the best way to understand something is to experience it. You should spend more time doing the right things than studying them. One hour of experience can teach you more than a lifetime of research.
Jesus didn’t recruit his disciples and then put them in a classroom for three years. Instead, he taught them through experience first and instruction second.
Experiential learning is how everyone learns best. Great teachers, great parents, and our great God get this. It’s how we’re wired as human beings. Why fight it? Why pretend it doesn’t apply to you?
For example, you learn how to swim by swimming. Yes, you can read up on it beforehand, and you can get lessons from an instructor while you’re in the water, but all the swim smarts in the world are meaningless without the experience.
If you’re not getting in the water, odds are you’ve got a block you need to work through. You’re afraid. Why? You’re ashamed. Why? You’re proud. Why? You’re discouraged. Why? You can either work through the block, or work through the book. The brave work through their blocks; the cowards hide behind their books.
The goal is not to learn as much through information and as little through experience as possible. The goal is to learn as much through experience and as little through information as necessary. The former is about trying not to get bruised or embarrassed. The latter is about getting it done.
With so much information available, it’s easy to get lost in “just a little more.” We conflate knowing things in our minds with knowing things in our lives. Getting more facts may inform you, but getting more experience will transform you. Which one are you after? Do you want to be a great theorist or a great practitioner?
The masters of anything are the ones who have done it, are doing it, and will continue to do it. They can give you the facts, but they can also tell you the stories. They know of what they speak because they live it every day.
What do you need to stop studying and start doing? Make the transition and you’ll discover that experience really is the best teacher.