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Building a Teachable Spirit

 

Prov. 15:32 He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.
Prov. 15:33 The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.

Friends having a teachable spirit is something that most lack, and I will be the first to admit and put me into the list of "most people." A good way to find out if you have a problem in this area is to ask yourself the following question.

Question

How do I respond to correction?

People that hate taking advice are the kind of people Pro 15:32 is speaking about. They get bent out of shape when they are corrected, or believe that they are being attacked, you name it.

  Criteria for insecure people
  • They never feel secure about their identity, and are constantly comparing themselves to others
  • When someone corrects them they get defensive
  • They wont take advice from people not like themselves
  • They are the kind of people are constantly trying to prove something
  • They may tend to lie to make themselves look good in front of others
  • They are ashamed to let others know who they really are
  • When they are corrected, they typically feel rejected

Looking at the list, there is no question that I meet some of the criteria. This is something I am not ashamed to admit. I know I’m not perfect, but I know that my heart is right where God wants it to be. Besides me being insecure in some areas, it’s important to realize that just because I am insecure in some areas, does not mean that I overall lack a teachable spirit. It may mean that in certain areas I may lack such a spirit, but I know that in other areas I have a very teachable spirit.

Criteria for secure people
  • They can be corrected, without feeling rejected
  • They are teachable
  • They listen to constructive criticism

At Simpson in a ministry course called Teaching Ministry of the Church I was required to read some Church Education books, and one of the authors Howard Hendricks wrote a book called Teaching to Change Lives. This book is an excellent resource for Church Education staff. This book covers some basic principles (or laws as he calls them) regarding teaching in the church environment. The law of readiness is my personal favorite of the bunch, as it basically states that both student and teacher must be prepared for the teaching environment. This is so true and often followed in higher education, but perhaps not very well followed in church education. The sad news is that typically the teacher is blamed for the student’s poor scholarship or lack of learning. But according to Henricks a student must study, must come to class on time, and must be interested in the material to proactively learn. There is much more good stuff in this book. Grab it its a great read!

In the read Dr. Hendricks talks about the Law of Readiness, which states that a teacher is both a teacher and learner. This is a shock for some people who think that because they have their degrees, a high profile job, or such they no longer need to learn, because they know it all! No we need to stay teachable, and put off our pride no matter what. We need to be critical thinkers; we need to not just blow off everyone that disagrees with us! I will say it again, that I have some work in this area.

 

Prov. 15:12 A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise.

One thing I learned on my own is that it’s wise to hang out with wise people who are most often older than me. In doing so I have become ways as Proverbs also states.

Prov. 13:20 He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

Sadly I know so many young people that resent correction, because they will not consult people older than themselves. They do not want adult mentors; they want to only hang with their own peers. At Simpson there were many people like this and many of them lacked a teachable spirit as a result. However the Simpson college faculty and staff made many opportunities for students to find staff mentors, teachers, and other wise people. I chose Dr. Barth L. Campbell as my mentor.

Dr. Campbell was my mentor for 3 years, and although my main in person mentor, I had and still have many authors, preachers, teachers and other ministers as mentors. Sadly Dr. Campbell was taken from me and called home in early 2005. But not before the Lord provided Pastor Al about a year ago to fulfill the mentor role, because the Lord knew that Dr. Campbell would go home in April of 2005. Before Dr. Campbell went home, he did take a look at my bible page, and was impressed, but gave me some ways to improve the site. His ideas will be implemented soon Lord Willing.

So we need to be humble, and we will be exalted. We cannot be proud, and arrogant, because in so many ways these kinds of people are not teachable. We need to listen more to people and talk less is a good rule of thumb to take into consideration on building a teachable spirit. Remember that secure people are teachable and insecure are not. Also remember that honor rarely comes before humility.

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