A Teachable Spirit
By Elder Benjamen Long
Quote: "The most persuasive sermon is the example which leads the way.” In Him, Like Him, a Sermon (No. 1732), delivered on Thursday Evening, May 17th, 1883, by C. H. SPURGEON, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington (reprinted without permission).
As Christian leaders, we will have occasion to Interact with, Lead, Minister to, or Pastor people who do not demonstrate the characteristic or personality of being “teachable”, perhaps even as close as our mirror.
Webster’s defines “teachable” as: capable of being taught, apt and willing to learn, favorable to teaching (reprinted without permission).
At the heart of Discipleship and or Mentoring is the absolute need of a “Teachable Spirit”. In fact, both terms allude to “teaching and learning”…more importantly, they describe a relationship between a teacher and a student.
A “Teachable Spirit” is best expressed through our ability to lay aside pre-conceived notions, concepts and precepts, in search of a thorough, exegetical view and understanding of all things communicated, be they written, verbal or non-verbal communications or interactions. This allows us to pursue the Majesty of God’s Grace and Guidance to “broaden our horizons” through loving fellowship, accurate teaching, and the interchange of ideas.
One of the truest characteristics of a disciple (student / follower) is that of being a “disciplined learner”…in essence, one who is teachable. There can be no “discipleship” without a willingness to learn, unlearn, and relearn, nor “mentorship” without submission, accountability and humility.
Consider these terms:
Teachable – capable of being taught b : apt and willing to learn. (Websters – reprinted without permission)
Unteachable – Characteristically expressed by one who has decided that they themselves are the principal source for Biblical interpretation, exegesis, and continued Spiritual Growth. You know the type…”you can’t tell me anything I don’t already know”.
More often than not, when this type of personality is encountered, Pride (an exaggerated sense or perception of self) and a lack of Humility (an awareness AND expression of our own limitations, abilities, authority or understanding), is typically at its core.
“A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit.” Pro 29:23 (KJV)
As we examine ourselves for hints of an “Unteachable Spirit”, clear indicators can be found in statements and actions such as;
1. I ONLY read the Bible; I have no need to read ANYTHING else.
a. Again, because they presume themselves to be the principal source of revelation, interpretation and knowledge, they fail to accept, or even consider the richness of discovery and revelation that can be found in those who have walked this same path BEFORE themselves
2. Preferred isolation from the Christian Community.
a. Christian fellowship can ONLY be fostered and developed through POSITIVE interaction (Acts 2:42) and learning from one another (iron sharpens iron).
b. The “Unteachable Spirit” will not wish to interact with others, except in order to overpower them with “superior revelation, knowledge and wisdom.”
3. Poor “fruit” production – The nature and essence of an Unteachable Heart is analogous to that of the Pharisees who contended with Jesus.
a. Self-promotion, as it is the most destructive and divisive characteristic of an “Unteachable Heart”, places oneself on the hem of viability within the body of Christ, as far as service is concerned.
b. Insecurity, will lead the Unteachable Heart to surround themselves with similarly insecure and impotent (poor fruit) believers who illicit “like mindedness”.
The Pharisees simply could not handle ANYTHING or ANYONE which Preached or Taught principles relating to God and His Kingdom contrary (they believed) to their own. They thought they were superior to EVERYONE outside of their “circle of influence and accountability, those of a like mind.”
An assumption of “status” built on the back of Pride.
Sometimes Ministers face this same issue…
Be it from a learned Doctrine or Denominational affiliation, if Pride takes root, the results can be disastrous and bring more harm than good to the Body of Christ.
WHOEVER LOVES instruction and correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is like a brute beast, stupid and indiscriminating? Pro 12:1, AMP (emphasis added)
Incorrigible – incapable of being corrected or amended, not reformable, depraved, delinquent, not manageable, unruly (Websters – reprinted without permission)
Assignment: Prayerfully consider and answer each of the following questions, using ONE full paragraph per question / answer.
1. Compare and contrast “unteachable” (unable or unwilling to learn) and “incorrigible” (unable or unwilling to take correction), as it relates to, and experienced in your life. Give an example of each as you have experienced either or both.
2. Through the lens of introspection, compare and contrast “teachable” and “unteachable”.
3. How do I exhibit a “Teachable Spirit” in my daily interaction with people?
4. Briefly explain why you “believe” Solomon asked for “Wisdom and Knowledge” above all else.
5. Explain what you believe to be the chief point of this lesson.
Think on these things: In order to receive all that the Holy Spirit desires to share with our community here in the NACM through our Mentorship Program, a “Teachable Spirit” is necessary. Furthermore, fulfillment of His Greatest Commission can only be fully understood and undertaken through the “Teachable Spirit” (Mark 16:15).
"A capacity, and taste, for reading, gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others. It is the key, or one of the keys, to the already solved problems. And not only so. It gives a relish, and facility, for successfully pursuing the [yet] unsolved ones."
— Abraham Lincoln September 30, 1859 Address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society