Recently I received a preliminary copy of a press release about me coming to work with a particular organization. In it was recorded, “We welcome Dr. George Yates…” I see or hear this several times each year. When I share that I do not hold a Doctorate degree, I get differing responses (none condescending). Some of the major reasons I hear are, “You’ve written several books.” Or “I’ve heard you speak on several occasions and…” or “I’ve read and heard of your experiences. You must have…” My favorite response and I’ve received it more than once, “Well, You’re Dr. Yates to me.” That one is always a welcome affirmation of God’s working through my feeble self.

Our society has equated formal education with success and recognition. Formal education does bring knowledge. Yet knowledge alone does not breed success. It is my belief that the gaining of knowledge is a great thing and necessary in life.

Education is a must for growth and effectiveness in life. To be effective, you must be a life-long continual learner. I am constantly attempting to learn. Reading, listening, viewing videos, and observing others to learn all that I can, a life-long learner. I also try to learn from my mistakes and shortcomings. First, I must recognize and acknowledge those shortcomings. Then, I oftentimes consider my mentors and contemplate, “How would he have handled that differently? How should I have …?

Understanding how to apply knowledge is wisdom and wisdom is where the effective use of knowledge is applied.” Speaking of our society, Bob Biehl, in his book on Mentoring states, “The criteria for the judgment of people usually rests upon knowledge rather than wisdom, achievement rather than character, profit rather than creativity.”

Knowledge is great, get all you can. But do not stop at acquiring knowledge. Knowledge builds great trivia buffs and may help you if you are ever a contestant on Jeopardy. Yet knowledge without application will never breed effectiveness or success in your ventures. The application requires wisdom and will always breed deeper levels of wisdom.

Some men and women that I have learned from over the years have had several diplomas on their walls. Others had not one. Each one of those men and women has been used by God to equip, encourage, and inspire me to be better, to gain more knowledge and wisdom, to reach for God’s best for me.

Be a life-long learner in every experience of every day. Get all the education you can. If you are a classroom learner, take classes to grow you into God’s best. Even if you are not a classroom learner, read study books, videos, and most of all study the actions of other people – especially those you look up to and respect. Find others to mentor you.

Think on this: Most all of the learning of God’s servants and servant-leaders in the Bible gained their learning by means other than in a classroom. There is no greater learning experience than through mentoring. Be a mentor to others and no matter your age, always be on the lookout for those who can mentor you. Who can you learn from and grow because of the time you spend with him/her?

I’d like to think some refer to me as Dr. Yates, not because of my knowledge or achievement, but because of God’s gifting and His wisdom demonstrated – His character depicted – and His creativity displayed. I live to learn to be used by God, not for personal recognition but to bring Him glory and exaltation.

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