Thursday, April 14, 2022

The #1 Reason Why You're Not Mastering Greek

Got a minute? Today I'd like to talk about what I think is the #1 reason that holds people back from mastering New Testament Greek (or any other course of study for that matter). Hint: It's your fault. 

Now, I know that people will argue about all kinds of reasons why they could never learn to read Greek, from their textbook to their teacher to their schedule. Here's the real reason: it all comes back to your intensity. The problem is, if you ask people if they are working hard enough, they're going to say, "Of course I am." People think that if it's difficult, they've done a good job. The fact is, nobody has innately the skill to push themselves to the level of intensity required to master a foreign language. You have to work at it. Unlike a team sport, it's just you against you. 

Let me remind you: building intensity is a daily pursuit. Intense people know exactly what has to be accomplished. They demand from themselves what their self doesn't want to give. They have learned to work hard and to reap the fruit of self-mastery. I see the apostle Paul living this way. And because he did everything with intensity, he could tell Timothy to imitate him: "You know about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, my faith, my patience, my love, my endurance, my persecutions, and my sufferings" (2 Tim. 3:10). Because Paul had disciplined himself to give his very best in all of the various sectors of his life, he could model that life to Timothy. No better gift in life. 

The runner, the swimmer, the cyclist all push their bodies to the highest levels of performance by demanding of themselves higher and higher levels of physical output. They realize that there are many barriers that need to be overcome, but they behave according to their will power and not simple convenience.

In 45 years of teaching Greek, I have seen a good number of students rise to the occasion like this. Facing a herculean task, they knew that life is not a sprint or a sudden burst of speed. It is a distance run, and it demands intensity, resilience, endurance, determination -- and a good strong kick at the finish line.