Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom.

Written by: on January 11, 2024

Bold, wise, and courageous while being a minority are some of Daniel’s admirable traits in the Old Testament. Until this week, I never correlated his actions with his “learning and skill in all literature” as seen in Daniel 1:17 [1]. Perhaps it seemed more obvious as I have focused my own on reading, writing, and note-taking. If learning and literature skills produce courageous followers of God like Daniel and his colleagues, should I not also consider expanding mine as well?

It is essential to know one’s starting point to improve oneself. When considering my abilities to read, write, and take notes, I initially thought my reading skills were the weakest. I was an early, avid reader in my childhood. That eager consumption of books drastically slowed as an adult. I bought and started reading hundreds of books. The minuscule percentage of these books that I read from start to finish was embarrassing. That is until I completed the book, How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren. I was enlightened to learn that I do an inspectional reading on almost every book I pick up. My list of unfinished books is largely because I gained enough information through my initial investigations. I anticipate awakening my literary enthusiasm as I grow in reading methods.

As rare as it is to see my past self with a book, I am often found with a pen. On the phone, sitting in church, listening to a lecture,  I enjoy jotting down notes. Note-taking helps me stay present in the moment rather than jumping into the future and getting lost in my thoughts. Are these notes affective? Do I refer to them at other times? Are they organized and usable? The answer to these is generally in the negative. It would be accurate to say there is exponential potential for personal growth in my note-taking skills. I believe developing excellent note-taking skills will be valuable to capture highlights, improve writing content, and deepen understanding. This area that needs the significant improvement may prove to have greatest return on investment for my life.

Writing is the skill I enjoy and use the most. My academic writing is influenced through my undergraduate and graduate degrees in science. This formation allowed me to develop skills in portraying information in precise methods. Living in Africa, letters, short stories, and reflections are ways to engage and invite others into my life from a distance. As an external processor, writing is a way I can privately externalize my thoughts. In my spiritual life, this manifests in writing prayers and sharing internal struggles with God in my journal. Reflecting on these contemplations and recording God’s responses to them have become an essential spiritual practice and tool in my spiritual walk. This semester I pray that God will increase my wisdom, learning and my abilities in these areas to prepare me to be a courageous follower like Daniel.

[1] Crossway Bibles, ed. 2008. ESV Study Bible: English Standard Version. ESV text ed. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles, p.1587.


About the Author



Kari is a passionate follower of Jesus. Her journey with Him currently has her living in the Sahara in North Africa. With over a decade of experience as a family nurse practitioner and living cross-culturally, she enjoys being a champion for others. She combines her cross-cultural experience, her health care profession, and her skills in coaching to encourage holistic health and growth. She desires to see each person she encounters walk in fullness of joy, fulfilling their God-designed purpose. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12 ESV

12 responses to “God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom.”

  1. mm Glyn Barrett says:

    Hi Kari. Thanks for your blog. I’m sure that many of the cohort would agree with your reflection on Inspectional reading by way of it occurring naturally. On many occasion, I have put down a book after the initial opening chapters, feeling like the Author is merely repeating themself. Admittedly, like you, I am able to say, “I gained enough information through my initial investigations.” Do you think that your self-assessment of Inspectional reading has liberated you from the embarrassment of the unfinished books you mention in your blog?

    • mm Kari says:

      Hi Glyn,
      I appreciate your comment. It was as I was reading Adler and Van Doren, that I started to feel more “liberated” from all of those unfinished books. As I was writing my self-assessment, I allowed myself to release that embarrassment. I move forward proudly as reader who has been empowered to choose what books to read and what method I wish to use.

  2. Akwése Nkemontoh says:

    Kari! First off, I LOVE how you started this off with a new way to examine a common character in the Bible.

    Secondly, I lit up with personal excitement when you said “I was enlightened to learn that I do an inspectional reading on almost every book I pick up. My list of unfinished books is largely because I gained enough information through my initial investigations.” I can only imagine how empowering that must have felt! I can also relate to this.

    Interesting what you wrote about your own note-taking. It amazes me how we can do something so often and love it yet still not leverage the majority of power it holds.

    I trust you are well equipped for this growth and am standing with you in agreement for God to increase your wisdom and learning, emboldening you like Daniel.

  3. Diane Tuttle says:

    Hi Kari, I really resonated with your comment that taking note on a book helped you stay in the present rather that going off to the future. It could mean the difference of finding the richness in the reading or just doing a low pass over in a crop duster. Thanks for sharing.

  4. mm Shela Sullivan says:

    Wow! Kari, your reflection on Daniel’s traits in the Old Testament is both insightful and commendable.
    I connect with your remark about gaining sufficient information through initial investigations. This marks a shift in my reading approach as well. I’ve begun using Obsidian for notes taking. Its straightforward nature aligns well with my preferences.
    May you always be endowed with wisdom, learning, and abilities, carrying the same courageous heart as Daniel.

  5. Noel Liemam says:

    Hi, Kari. Thank you for giving us an example from the scripture. On the same note with Shela, it is very insightful.

  6. Adam Cheney says:

    I find the insight into Daniel encouraging. At times I feel that I have to justify myself in the time I spend reading and writing. However, your description of Daniel is a good reminder that learning, studying, drawing closer to God are all aspects of ministry and developing as a leader. Has inspectional reading allowed yourself to be okay with not finishing books?

    • mm Kari says:

      Thank you for your question, Adam. Having a name to give to my inspectional reading has definitely allowed me to accept this style and be okay with not reading books from start to finish. It has also encouraged me to embrace reading more books.

  7. Nancy Blackman says:

    Hi Kari,
    I love your connection to Daniel, and I agree, it would be great if we all considered how much this reading, writing, and note-taking journey will expand us (not just intellectually, but emotionally and spiritually) because we will be thinking more about how our reading will connect with our research.

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey!

  8. mm Chris Blackman says:

    Hi Kari,
    I had to smile at your comment on your “negative” answer to utilizing your notes. I do the same thing. I just found OneNote and like it, and will look at Obsidian. Have you explored them or any other apps that work for you? Why or why don’t you like them. I have a lot to learn!

    • mm Kari says:

      Chris, I join you with having much to learn in electronic note taking. I am just commencing my personal exploration with Obsidian and One Note. At this time, I do not have an opinion on one or the other. I look forward to learning more and hearing what you also discover on this journey.

  9. mm Jennifer Eckert says:

    Like you, I recognized that I have been doing inspectional reading for years but didn’t know it. That is how I made it through my master’s program. It is good that you naturally take notes to help you process what you are reading/hearing/seeing. Consider keeping them together in a common place until you can eventually transfer them to your Zettelkasten. Also, consider going back to old books when you wrote notes in the margins and transferring those to your slip-box as well. Excellent blog. It is great to learn from you.

    Prayers for God’s favor and protection.

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