What method would you advise a beginner to study the Bible, and also how do I avoid being burnt out?
Hey, I’m excited for you to dive into God’s Word. You’re in for a ridiculously awesome ride and I’m a little jealous that you get to dig in with fresh new eyes.
Find an awesome Study Bible, set an uncompromised time for study, and shut off all distractions. I set my time first thing in the morning, before I check emails or social media or see a single human face, because otherwise I’ll get wrapped up in other things down a rabbit trail. I also often read the Bible at night before bed.
I believe that the Bible speaking is the same as God speaking, and you’ll always receive conviction as long as you’re humbling yourself under the Bible instead of standing on top of it (and even then, God could still convict you). While there might be some things you won’t understand, there will definitely be some things you do totally understand.
The best thing I can tell you about the harder, more intimidating parts is to find a mature leader to help explain how to read it. When someone tells you too quickly what it means, that’s not leaving room for you to explore and discover. Also consider getting a good beginner’s commentary like Henrietta Mears’ What The Bible Is All About, which I still use.
Here are some previous posts you can check out. Just use what you like so as not to be overwhelmed.
The best way to avoid burn-out is to expect burn-out. Inevitably, human beings will get burned out on anything: and from there, it’s all about how you respond. If you can understand that it’s bound to happen, then remember: always prioritize truth over feelings.
What this does NOT mean is that you begrudgingly carry on your task as a cold obligation. It means to find new, different ways to circumvent your secondary feelings to get back to the primary truth.
Sometimes I’ll listen to an Audio Bible to re-ignite my excitement. I’ll try multiple translations, from formal ones like the NASB and KJV to fun ones like the NLT, MSG, NCV, and the Cotton Patch Translation. I’ll change locations: Starbucks, Panera, the beach, the patio, a tiny corner of my room, in the church sanctuary. A muffin or breakfast sandwich can help. A few times I’ve read the Bible out loud like Harry Potter or in a Chinese accent. I’m dead serious.
Remain curious. It’s okay to ask questions. If someone shuts you down, find someone else and keep asking. Don’t get discouraged if you get weird, funky answers. Not everyone is a wise Bible-reader. You might have to dig really deep before finding satisfactory explanations — and trust me, the Bible has satisfied the greatest minds in human history. Sometimes we judge God based on what other people say about Him, but don’t give up on seeking the truth in there for yourself.
And of course: don’t let a head full of knowledge puff you up too big, because the truth of God rightfully makes us grateful we would even have the revelation of God. The Bible will bring you to a greater love, never a bigger ego.