Being teachable is so important. At my church, Christ Fellowship, it’s one of our core values. “Grow to go…remaining teachable to stay usable.” We need to always remain in a place where we can be humble and teachable.
When someone comes to you and tells you what you need to work on, it’s very difficult. Especially when you’ve put blood sweat and tears into that project then others, who weren’t a part of the mission or task, are now speaking into you.
As a communicator it can be so difficult to have someone critique your sermon. Several years ago when I was on staff at Saddleback Church in Southern California, I worked for a pastor named Doug Fields. Doug was one of the pastors and he was giving me training to be one of the regular communicators. Doug was a phenomenal communicator. As I was being developed at Saddleback Church to preach and lead, Doug would listen to me preach and then critique “everything” about my message. He used to sit in my sermons on the weekends and then afterwards tell me what I could work on. He would tell me what I didn’t say, what I should have said, How many times I said “ummm,” how the stories I told didn’t connect, and how my transitions between points didn’t flow well! Believe me, I got every ounce of critique I could handle.
It was so difficult hearing all the critique after EVERY sermon I preached. Yet, I noticed that when I received the critique, internalized it and then put it into practice my preaching began to get better. I finally began to understand that Doug wasn’t critiquing me because he didn’t like me, Doug was critiquing me because he loved me.
Receiving critique is not always easy, but it gets a bit easier when you know the person that is sharing it with you loves you. It’s a bit more difficult to take critique and be teachable when you don’t fully trust the person that’s giving it.
Here’s a story about a guy named Jonah that received direction from the Lord but wasn’t willing to take the direction and be teachable.
“The LORD gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish.” Jonah 1:1-3
Here are four things you need to know about being teachable:
1. The greatest barrier to being teachable is PRIDE.
We have to work at being teachable. The reason we must work at it is because it doesn’t come naturally. What comes natural is our sinful (pride) nature. Pride convinces you that what you believe is your reality.
It’s also extremely hard to walk up to someone and say, “Tell me what I need to work on,” It doesn’t come easily. It’s difficult to have someone else speak into your life and tell you of your blind spots. We all have them but we don’t all see them.
2. You’re lack of being teachable will affect others.
“But the LORD hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship.” Jonah 1:4-7
Jonah’s lack of being teachable affected everyone on the boat with him. Jonah couldn’t follow instruction and because of that, he endangered the lives of everyone around him.
Now you may be saying, “My lack of being teachable won’t hurt anyone” but it may keep them from going forward. The lack of being teachable may keep the people around you locked into mediocrity and not help them move forward in God’s purpose. I truly believe that when you aren’t teachable it will affect your team. It will affect the way you lead your team. It could cause you to stay in a place of being stagnant.
3. To be teachable by others you must first be touchable by God.
“Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish. He said, “I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, you heard me!” Jonah 2:1-2
I find that when I am at a place of arrogance and can’t take input well that I am probably not in a good place with God.
When I am studying God’s Word and I am spending time with God, I have a spirit of security. I am willing and able to be taught and led. I have a secure, confident spirit because I know who I am in Christ. I know that He loves me. I know that He has called me. I know that positive critique is helping me grow more into His likeness.
God doesn’t teach us from a distance. God is hands on. We need to stay in a posture that is open to critique and not closed to it. Submission to God says, “I am allowing anyone that you would like to use, show me where to grow and step up to the input.” When God can touch you he can teach you.
4. A divine perspective will make you effective.
“Then the LORD spoke to Jonah a second time: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.” This time Jonah obeyed the LORD’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all. On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” Jonah 3:1-4
Everything I’ve realized about being teachable is that when you are open to wisdom it will change your world. When Jonah was open to God’s leading it changed his heart and it also changed all of Ninevah.
Following the Godly wisdom of others will help change your direction and give you some insights that will make you better.
When you realize that God is working in you and through you, you welcome anything that could be a teachable moment.
Are you teachable?