No matter how smart we think we are or how many degrees we have obtained, we need to remain teachable. We need to remain a people who are open to instruction, able to accept criticism and willing to change that what is broken.
This is not something that will happen over-night. But, if you begin to make this behavior a habitual practice in your life, it will begin to dominate your life.
You will become more pleasant to the people in your life. This also allows you to remain more humble and to keep pursuing Christ — because without Him, you will not be able to remain teachable for too long of a time.
James writes about being teachable in the third chapter of his letter. He writes about it within the context of contrasting two types of wisdom. Those that have earthly wisdom will not remain amicable. They will continue to cause division, strife and chaos. Those that are full of wisdom that comes from Christ will remain, in this case – teachable, open to reason, easily obeying and open to instruction.
This is one character trait of a person who is wise. This is a demonstration of a life dripping with the gospel. James says that wisdom from above is among other things: open to reason.
- James does not mean that you have to succumb to every thing you ever hear addressed to you.
- James does not mean that you have to listen to everyone and not have an opinion of your own.
- James is not saying that you should demonstrate some sort of superficial humility.
James is teaching here that we need to remain teachable and open to reason.
Here are three quick tips on how to remain teachable:
1. Avoid bias. Every time you are receiving instruction, correction or counsel, assume that the other person who is speaking comes from a good place of grace. Assume that they truly desire for you to change. Assume that they are doing this out of a kind and gentle heart, full of mercy and compassion. Yes, your assumption may entirely miss the mark. But starting without a bias will enable you to retain a humble and teachable attitude during the conversation. Pray that God would disable the bias you have already built up against the other person. Especially if the person giving you counsel is not someone you have dreams about drinking coffee with.
2. Be ready. It is always more difficult to remain teachable when we receive instruction when we least expect it. We thought we came somewhere just to chill and relax — and here comes the guy who wants to offer me some Godly counsel and feed me Christ. How rude of them right? Wrong! If we are to be functioning out of gospel-wisdom, we must remain open to reason, regardless of whether we prepared ourselves for it or not. It might come at a time when you are not prepared for it. Your lack of preparation for it and your distaste with it will spill out in your words and attitude. To avoid this, begin to function from a perpetual position that is ready to receive and accept correction, counsel or criticism, whenever, wherever and from whomever.
3. Ask Open-Ended Questions. If you have read this blog for a while, you know that I am a fan of these types of questions. Instead of gritting your teeth through another session of unwanted advice, listen carefully and ask open-ended questions. If a person took the time to tell you something — the least you can do is take the time to engage them in the conversation. Now, I know there are times when you should just listen and not respond. Rely on the Holy Spirit to see you through that situation. But, there will be times when it will benefit you to ask open-ended questions. This will also sharpen and hone the skills of your coach and how the approach counsel and advice with other people. By asking open-ended questions, you are showing respect and honor to the other person. You have heard what they said. And, in your effort to remain teachable, you need further clarification about what they said.
This week is a holiday week for all of us living in the land of the free and the home of the brave. This week, many of us will be with friends and family, celebrating all that God has given us. I can almost guarantee that you will face a situation where the above tips will be absolutely applicable.
I know that for me personally, they for sure will be applicable. Put this post in your favorites and get your iPhone out at the minute you feel tempted not to be open to reason. You will be glad you did.
Let us pursue the character of Christ by relying on His wisdom, specifically remaining teachable and open to reason.
Question: What has helped you personally to remain teachable and open to reason? Please share some tips with the rest of the community in the comments below!