Put yourself in the front row. Literally. I have been teaching university students for more than 20 years. I always find it interesting which students choose to sit in the front row and which prefer to sit as far in the back as possible.
Everyone ends up hearing the same information, but the students in the front want to be right in the middle of the action. In my experience, these students are more engaged. They ask more questions and contribute more to the discussions. So when I need a volunteer for something, I choose a student from the front row.
I found myself doing the same thing on a recent trip to Israel. In this case, I was the student looking for the front row seat! We had a fabulous tour guide named Erez. He was a believing Jew who could tell us all about the Jewish culture and about his Messiah. And though he had probably told the same stories hundreds of times, the excitement still poured out of him at every stop.
Erez talked all the time. The problem: the streets of Jerusalem are narrow. And the dusty paths in the mountains around the Sea of Galilee are narrow. You don’t necessarily have to walk “single file”, but you typically can’t walk more than two abreast. So those who positioned themselves up close to him were going to hear more stories than the rest. You can be sure that’s exactly where I wanted to be most of the time! I didn’t want to miss a single detail.
I imagine that’s how Peter, James, and John felt about Jesus. I’m guessing that as they hiked all over Israel for those three years they followed Jesus as closely as they could. When He stopped to tell a parable, they probably put their mats down right at His feet. This would have set them apart from the other disciples. On the narrow paths, perhaps the beloved disciple John jockeyed for the spot where he could hang onto every word. This would have allowed him to absorb every detail and not miss an opportunity to learn from the Master.
And when it came time for special assignments, guess who was chosen? Peter, James, and John got to witness the Transfiguration, see a child raised from the dead, and prepare the final Passover meal (the Last Supper). Who got the assignment to care for Jesus’ mother after He was gone? The beloved disciple, John; as he was the only one that remained in the ‘front row’ for the entire Crucifixion.
Those who position themselves in the front row of life appear more eager to learn and are more engaged with their teachers. This makes them stand out from the rest of the crowd that is content to hang out in the background. As a student of life, where will you position yourself?