Teachable: having an attitude of pure and complete humility
Being teachable is so important. Here at 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 to take in. Especially when you’ve put blood, sweat and tears into your project or work and the ones who weren’t even a part of the mission or task, are now advising 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 my predecessor and he was a phenomenal communicator. As I was being groomed to take over his role in the church he would listen to me preach and then critique “everything” about my message. He used to sit in my sermons on the weekends and afterwards tell me what I needed to work on. He would tell me what I didn’t say. What I should have said. Exactly how many times I said “ummm!” How the stories I told didn’t connect. How my transitions between points didn’t flow well! Believe me…I got every ounce of critique I could handle.
It was difficult to hear and accept all the criticism after EVERY sermon I preached. However, I noticed that when I received the critique, internalized it and later put it into practice, that my preaching began to improve. 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 and wanted to make me better.
Here at Christ Fellowship after a main service sermon, we sit down with a few people and they give insight to what needs to be fixed, tweaked and made better. We do this because we want to be better preachers and we want our church to receive the best sermon possible.
Receiving constructive criticism is not always easy…but it does make a difference when you know the person whom is sharing it with you loves you and has the right intentions. But, it’s a bit more difficult to take the critique and be teachable when you don’t fully trust the person that’s giving it.
Pay attention to this story about a guy named Jonah that received direction from the Lord but wasn’t willing to take it 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 aboard, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish.” Jonah 1:1-3
- The greatest barrier to being teachable is: PRIDE
We have to work at being teachable. The reason we have to work at it is because it doesn’t come naturally. What seems to come more naturally is our sinful nature, “pride.”
It is extremely hard to approach someone and ask, “Hey can you tell me what I need to work on,” it just doesn’t come easy. It’s tough to have someone speak into your life and tell you your blind spots. Although we all have them, we don’t see them…that’s why they’re called blind spots.
We are all already insecure in some way. Being open to receive criticism is hard.
- It destroys a leader’s judgment.
- It denies truth.
- It blocks the Holy Spirit from leading.
Pride convinces you that what you believe is your reality.
- Your resistance to be 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 resistance to be teachable affected everyone on the boat with him. Jonah didn’t follow instruction and because of it, he endangered the lives of everyone around him.
Now you may say, “My resistance to be teachable won’t hurt anyone,” however, it may very well keep them from moving forward. It can bind them to mediocrity and deter them from fulfilling God’s purpose for their life. I truly believe that when you aren’t teachable, it will affect your team and the way you lead them.
- To be teachable by others you have to 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 don’t take feedback so well, that I am most likely not in connection with God. I get too confident, “pride” creeps in and I think…I’m on fire, I’m good, I got this!
However, when I seek God and spend time studying His word, I have a spirit of security. I can 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 constructive criticism will help me grow more into His likeness.
- When God can touch you because you’ve made yourself accessible, He can teach you.
- 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
Overall, what I have learned 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 not only changed his heart, it also changed all of Ninevah.
When you welcome the opportunity to be teachable and you realize that God is working in and through you, not only are you getting better but you are also affecting the kingdom!