The Importance of Being Teachable

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates reproof is stupid.
– Proverbs 12:1 (ESV)

Several years ago I was sitting in the home of a man who mentored me and he looked at me dead in the eyes and said, “Casey, you must always be teachable.”  As a 23 year-old wanna-be itinerant speaker, I was quick to listen to his advice, but thought of it as ‘doing my time.’  What I didn’t realize then is that being teachable needs to be a life-long posture, and not one to have until you feel like you have arrived.

Having been involved in ministry in various capacities for the last 15+ years, I realize now, more than ever, that I still have a whole lot to learn.  For instance, when I was a youth minister, I felt like I understood kids 12-18.  However, when it came to younger kids, I had no clue.  I now tell people that I can understand birth to 6 and 12 and up, but 7-11 is still an anomaly   Why?  Because, I’ve raised one daughter who is almost seven, and I have worked with youth on up.  I have little to no authority to speak to raising or parenting older kids, beyond what the Bible teaches on these subjects.

It has been my (mis)understanding that all young and aspiring ministers have had someone tell them to, “be teachable,” but I have clearly been mistaken.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing this as a reactive diatribe against a recent bad conversation or anything.  Instead, I’m responding to an increasing trend that I have observed among my peers and those younger than us, which is this attitude that we don’t need anyone else’s input, we need to figure out what God wants us to do (in isolation) and do it.

Part of this misunderstanding comes from our mis-preaching of the Gospel.  Jesus Christ didn’t just die and rise again for you to have a personal relationship with Jesus.  He died and rose again so that you can be connected to Him and by being connected to Him, you are in turn, connected to His people, the Body, the Church.  You are a part of a PEOPLE who are being saved for God’s glory and for our good.  You are saved to be a contributing part of a larger group, not just saved to enjoy personal benefits.

We must cultivate an attitude and posture of teachability.  Even from people who do not believe exactly like we do, or who maybe do church in a different manner.  I have learned to grow in appreciation for people whose gifts are different than mine, because I realize I need them and they need me.

Recently, we had a new guy and his family come to our church.  He explained that at his previous ministry position that he was the parachute.  What he meant was that he was usually slow and cautious, but the guy he served with was more like me, who liked to get things done at break-neck speed.  He said something that was very wise, he said, “The parachute is useless if there is no one to jump out of the plane.”  Essentially, the way we are wired, and our gifts are given to us for each other.  We need each other.  We can learn from each other.

So, whether you are a Christian, an aspiring church planter, or a seasoned pastor, and you are not teachable, then please, repent and begin to allow other people to speak into your life.  Honestly, I’ve never met anyone who would admit to being unteachable, so you may need to ask those around you if you are teachable.  If they are honest, and you are not, consider it a gift.

If we refuse to be teachable, then I’ll tell you what my great-grandmother used to say, “Those who cannot hear, must feel.”  You’ll learn the lessons you need to.  They may just be painful.

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