When I was a student at Florida College back in the mid to late 60’s, Homer Hailey was one of my Bible professors.
Brother Hailey was known for his expertise in the Old Testament, his insight into the book of Revelation, and his ability to quote scripture, as well as his class on “The Scheme of Redemption.” I can recall classes where he would fill a blackboard with scriptural references, quoting each one.
Occasionally, us “preacher boys” would become effusive in our praise and refer to Brother Hailey as a “Bible Scholar.” I can remember him retorting, “Boys, I’m still a student. I’m still learning.”
I thought brother Hailey was an old man, and wondered how can he still be learning? (For the record, when I began college, he was 12 years younger than I am now.)
“I’m still a student” has been in my mind through the years, reminding me to keep studying, learning and growing.
Blogger Kevin Holloran, in a fine piece on “How to Be Teachable According to Proverbs,” wrote, “If there is any quality that helps in every area of life, it is being teachable.”
Holloran further opined, “Being teachable is a foundational quality for everybody; workers, students, husbands, wives, and especially those in a leadership role.” I would add to that, preachers, pastors, Bible class teachers, and all Christians.
The “cliff notes” version of his post included these points:
- Be humble (Prov. 3:7-8).
- Actively seek wisdom and instruction as if your life depended on it (Prov. 4:7-9).
- Learn from the right teachers (Prov. 13:20).
- Receive correction as a blessing (Prov. 15:31).
The Bible commands us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). In his commentary on 2 Peter, another one of my Bible professors, Clinton Hamilton, offered this insight into the word “grow.”
“The force of the present imperative is to ‘keep on growing’ or ‘keep growing’ because the present imperative denotes ‘continuance.’
This continuation of spiritual growth enables Christians to remain in the condition to withstand false teaching and temptations of the flesh, eye, and vainglory of life (1 Jn. 2:15-17).
The resolve to continue growing must come from the will of the individual Christian. It will not simply ‘happen’ by accident. Through study and application of the will of God, one can grow but these conditions have to be present for the growth to increase.”
The person who thinks they know all it, who won’t read, listen and reconsider his beliefs, becomes unteachable and will fail to grow. John Wooden, the late hall of fame basketball coach once quipped, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
The reasons why people become unteachable are varied, but here are a few common ones.
1. Pride. It’s difficult for some people to admit they don’t know something. I once wrote a post entitled “Three Powerful Words You Rarely Hear From Preachers.” They were: “I don’t know.” You can’t be prideful and teachable at the same time.
2. Laziness. Studying takes time. Learning requires effort. And thinking is challenging. We may reach a point in life where apathy and indifference replaces action and industriousness.
3. Resistence to change. It’s easier to just drift along and be satisfied with the status quo. Change is often painful. Yet, as we wrote in an earlier post, Embrace Change, “Christian maturity and development requires change.”
4. Past success. Entrepreneur and speaker, David Gilliland, suggests in a blog post that the “greatest obstacle to your future success, may be your past success.” That’s true not only in the business world, but spiritually as well. Too many churches, preachers and pastors are living off of past accomplishments without plans for future growth
We need to take to heart the warning of the 19th century evangelist, Phillips Brooks. “Sad will be the day for any man when he becomes absolutely contented with the life that he is living, the thoughts that he is thinking, the deeds that he is doing; until there ceases to be forever beating at the door of his soul a desire to do something larger which he seeks and knows he was meant and made to do.”
Ask yourself, “Am I really teachable?”
John Maxwell was right when he wrote, “All the good advice in the world won’t help if you don’t have a teachable spirit.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
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