Am I Teachable?

by Daniel Rieke

I think teachability is perhaps the single most important factor for whether or not we are going to grow in Christ. 

What I mean when I say someone is teachable is... that there is not only a hunger for Jesus and to grow in Him, but there is also a humble willingness to do anything necessary to see that happen.

And it means we are willing to learn from and apply wisdom we are given from the Word of God, from mature believers speaking into us, from the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts, and from observing others' godly examples. 

I fear that lack of teachability is probably the single greatest hindrance to many of our abilities to grow in Christ. And it's a form of pride.

It's where we think we know best. We think we can handle life on our own. Where we accept a wrongly selfish idea of what it means to be a Christian, and we think we can walk through life relying on our own wisdom and ideas.

And yet almost everybody thinks they're teachable. It is very rare to encounter someone who would label themselves as "un-teachable."

One of the things I love about being a part of Hope Church is that so many of you are so hungry and teachable and passionate about growing in Christ. It makes it a true joy to be one of the pastors of this congregation. Thank you for being a people passionate about normal, biblical Christianity.

And at the same time, I think all of us can grow in this area. So here are some questions to help diagnose where we are in the area of teachability:

  1. Do I regularly spend time in God's Word, in prayer, and in personal worship?
  2. Do I regularly and faithfully attend Sunday corporate worship to sit under the preaching?
  3. Am I a faithful participant in my weekly home group?
  4. Do I regularly seek wisdom and advice from more mature believers on important decisions?
  5. Do I regularly apply and adhere to the godly counsel I receive?
  6. If I'm older, will I receive wisdom from someone younger than me?
  7. If I'm younger, will I receive wisdom from someone who is older than me?
  8. Do I tend to ask people for advice who I know will likely tell me the answer I want to hear?
  9. Do I typically keep asking different people for advice until I hear what I already wanted to do in the first place?
  10. Do I get offended or frustrated or defensive when other godly believers speak into areas of my life, like my marriage, my parenting or my walk with God?
  11. Are there parts of my life I don't want anyone speaking into?
  12. Do I generally seek accountability from my peers or from those with more life experience and wisdom than me?

If we tend to find ourselves drifting towards those who will tell us what we want to hear, or we have parts of our lives we want hidden, or we don't like to be told what to do, there's a good chance the Lord wants to grow us in the area of teachability. 

I can't emphasize enough how vital this is to our ability to grow in Christ. I'd go so far as to say that if you aren't teachable, you will never see significant growth in your walk with God. 

I think the Proverbs back me up on this as they are riddled with exhortation towards teachability and heeding wise counsel. For example:

•    Proverbs 4:13 – Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life. 
•    Proverbs 10:17 – Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.
•    Proverbs 15:32 – Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
•    Proverbs 19:27 – Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

These are strong warnings. We've got to take this area seriously and be relentless in our pursuit of this area. 

Here's what it looks like practically to NOT be teachable...this is what we've got to war against: we read the Word or we get advice from a godly believer, and then we walk away from that and don't apply it. Or we go out and listen to our peers instead, who often times will just validate our ideas anyway because they have the same blind spots or same life experience that we do. Just like what Solomon's son foolishly did in 1 Kings 12. 

We need to be those who listen to biblical wisdom, even if it grates against our desires. This is why we need the local church. We need to be in a community with a diversity of life experience and biblical wisdom to bring to bear on the many things we will face in our lives as we walk in this broken world.

And here's another aspect of this: if we aren't teachable, godly men/women aren't going to seek us out or use their valuable time on us because we aren't strategic. 

If we aren't teachable, then we are not a strategic person to pour into. And that's a weighty thing. 

•    Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
•    Proverbs 12:15 – The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
•    Proverbs 17:10 – A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.
•    Proverbs 17:16 – Why should a fool have money in his hand to buy wisdom when he has no sense?

In other words, don't spend your valuable time and energy on those who will squander and ignore the wisdom you give. 

If we aren't teachable, the wise and godly won't find value in spending time giving us wisdom that we are only going to ignore. So maybe we are struggling to connect with discipling relationships and wondering why that might be...it's probably a healthy thing to process through how teachable we are, and then ask the Lord to work in us in that area.

If you want to be strategic to pour into, be teachable; be faithful to walk out the Scriptures; be available to pour into; and be then apply the wisdom you receive.

Teachable doesn't mean blindly obeying what people tell us. Paul commended the Bereans in Acts 17 for running his words through the grid of Scripture. But that's the key: run advice by the Word of God, not by our own emotions or by immature friends and peers. Don't go looking for someone who will tell us what we want to hear instead of what's true.

I'm so passionate about this because I don't think we are going to see widespread maturity and transformation at Hope Church until teachability defines all of us in profound measure. So may the Lord powerfully bless each of us with the humility and teachability needed to radically advance His Kingdom!