Are You Teachable? | November 14th, 2022
Life is all about learning. If you’ve ever been around a young child for very long, you have probably heard them ask a lot of questions such as, Why is the sky blue? Where do babies come from? How do birds fly? They have unlimited curiosity. Once they become a teenager, however, they seem to know everything!
As adults, we ask questions to pursue knowledge and instruction. There is always more to learn if we are teachable. During the pandemic, I learned new things such as how to cut my husband’s hair, how to lead a Bible study over Zoom, and how to fold a fitted sheet. We are never too old to learn something new!
Being teachable is also necessary in order to grow in the knowledge of God. We were created to know Him. When we gain knowledge, it helps us attain a deeper appreciation or strengthen a relationship. Think about a close friend or your spouse. As you have grown in your knowledge of who they are such as their character qualities, skills and talents, or likes and dislikes, you grow to appreciate them more, build a stronger friendship, and develop a genuine love for them, especially if you are like-minded. The same happens when you seek to know God intimately.
Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10
The Knowledge and Wisdom of God
The Bible tells us that the knowledge of God is the most valuable kind of knowledge we can possess. This goes beyond simply being aware of God’s existence. It includes an appreciation for who He is as we develop a relationship with Him by spending time talking to Him and reading His Word. The more we know Him, the more we will grow to love Him. We gain wisdom, the ability to judge what is right and true, through increased knowledge so that we can be transformed in our thoughts and actions, becoming like-minded.
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6
The mark of a teachable person is that they are eager to listen to God speaking through His Word. Without an interest in Scripture, all the learning one has accumulated in anything else in life is ultimately useless. We can know everything there is to know about technology and computers, science and medicine, or finances and the stock market, but it is all meaningless – a chasing after the wind – if we do not have the knowledge of God.
King Solomon expressed the futility of the quest for knowledge apart from the desire to know God:
Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:12b-13
Nothing reveals a lack of teachability more than a person’s apathy to read God’s Word. They have no desire to learn what honors Him by growing in the knowledge of God. This seems to reflect the majority as we live in a self-centered world that idolizes our own self-pleasing desires. Society continually shouts, You are enough! Never settle for less than you deserve! Believe in yourself! With that kind of attitude, why would a person ever seek to be dependent on God’s wisdom and knowledge? Their pride prompts them to believe they can figure it out on their own without God. They become unteachable.
In the book of James, we are given the basic ingredients that define teachability, one of the rarest of qualities in people:
This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; James 1:19
The Greek word for hear is akouo which not only means “listening” but also “to heed and understand.” Growing in the knowledge of God takes time and attention. The average person has an attention span of just 8.25 seconds. We are used to skimming content online while fighting against constant distractions, making it much more challenging to read and understand God’s Word with the extended attention span required.
The evangelical church today realizes this and tries to cater to the short attention span of their parishioners. They substitute teaching the convicting truth of the gospel to grow in the knowledge of God with the latest form of entertainment, programs focused on self-help, and the teaching of pop psychology so they can keep their attention. And this is in spite of people being destroyed by a lack of the knowledge of God! (Hosea 4:6).
We are all given enough time from God to balance our priorities. It is not the distractions that are the problem so much as it is our desire to be distracted. Over time, we become weakened, unable to give our full attention to God.
Being teachable requires our attention. There’s no fast-paced method or easy substitute for increasing our knowledge of God. There is so much hidden treasure to discover about Him that is found in His Word if we would just take the time to search it out! We will find that the more we learn, the more we will desire to know.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! Romans 11:33a
Being Teachable Requires Humility
Humility is vital for being teachable. When we are humble, we recognize our need for learning and realize we can learn something from everyone. We are admitting we don’t know all the answers. Pride is the root of an unteachable spirit. Prideful people think they know more than others and have no need to learn more. Pride is a guarantee for failure.
Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Proverbs 26:12
A teachable person can recognize where they are deficient. They are humble enough to ask for help. If they are rebuked by someone who sees they are rebelling against God’s Word, they don’t run from the warning but rather, they welcome that which is necessary for their spiritual growth.
Proverbs 13:18 tells us, Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.
There are times when we all become unteachable and refuse sound advice. If our pride prevents us from receiving correction or asking questions, we are not teachable.
And say: “How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised correction! I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me!” Proverbs 5:12-13
Our natural reaction to correction is to become defensive, but it should not be this way. When we welcome correction, we can use it as a way to examine ourselves. We demonstrate humility when we learn from criticism or seek the counsel and wisdom of others who God has placed in our life. Truth invigorates the teachable heart!
The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. Proverbs 15:31
Being Teachable Requires a Desire to Learn
One who is teachable is eager to learn and desires to grow in knowledge no matter how much they already know. I recently read this story which made quite an impact on me. If only we could all be this teachable and humble!
Many, many years ago, I was taking a train from Philadelphia to New York City. As I waited for the train on the platform, an older man–who happened to be an elder at the church I attended–sat down by me. This man was an exceedingly gifted concert pianist. I asked him where he was heading. He told me that he was going to New York City for a piano lesson. When I expressed my surprise over the idea that he taught students so far from where he lived, he said, “No, no. I’m going to take a piano lesson.” Here was one of the finest concert pianists I knew, and he was continuing to take lessons from someone more gifted than himself.
Find a Godly Mentor
Wisdom and knowledge do not come by accident. We are to pursue it! Just as most successful executives have mentors, establish a relationship with someone who has diligently studied God’s Word so you can learn from them, be challenged, and stay accountable in your walk with Christ.
I have a dear friend I meet with every week who loves the Lord with all her heart and is filled with godly wisdom and knowledge because she has made studying the Scriptures a priority in her life. She desires to be obedient to Christ because of her deep love for Him which has come from the knowledge of His character – His compassion, love, forgiveness, generosity, and holiness. I have seen these traits become evident in her own life more and more as she strives to know and reflect Christ. Her walk with the Lord has influenced me greatly!
The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. Proverbs 18:15
How Teachable Are You?
Like a young child, a teachable person maintains a high curiosity quotient. They clothe themselves with humility, acknowledging that they do not know everything. They are willing to be taught and are always eager to learn more. They seek out godly wisdom and knowledge and apply it to their life. They delight in sharing what they’ve learned to help others grow in their walk with God. They graciously accept correction and investigate how it aligns with Scripture. They desire God’s Word and read it diligently. They surround themselves with wise, godly friends and learn all they can from them. Best of all, they deepen their appreciation for God and their love for Him intensifies as their relationship grows.
When we are teachable, God richly rewards us by generously pouring out His wisdom and knowledge so we can experience His delight in us. He loves us so very much and desires for us to truly know Him because that’s how He created us. What a privilege it is to be able to know God intimately so we can honor Him with our life and bring Him glory!
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