One advantage to being older is having more years of discovery and experience under my belt. There’s no substitute for time lived. But maybe the most important lesson I’ve learned is I don’t know it all.
This may seem obvious. I mean, how could any of us know it all? Yet we live like we do. We’re quick to give advice and opinions; sure our way is the right way. Sure ours is the one voice others need to hear. And if not our voice, then the voices we listen to.Maybe the most important lesson I’ve learned is I don’t know it all. Click To Tweet
As a mom, wife, writer, disciple of Jesus, friend, teacher… in every area of my life, I’ve learned the value of learning still more. No part of me is exempt from this need.
So many times while raising and homeschooling our oldest son, Sam, I found myself back-peddling. I so wanted to have it all together. To know it all perfectly. To be prepared for whatever came our way. But there I was again: Silent, realizing he saw something I didn’t see or had an answer I didn’t know.
At first it was hard on this young mom. Pride pushed me to defend my case and overcome his. Yet, in the sweet grace God gives as we choose humility, I learned to learn even as I taught. And in this, I was able to also teach humility.
Many miles have passed since those years, but I still find this lesson vital. It matters not the topic of conversation: As much as I know, as much as I’ve experienced, as much as I’ve read or heard, I can always learn more.
- There’s always a side or perspective I hadn’t thought of.
- A dynamic I can’t see from my angle.
- Information hidden from my view.
- A blind spot in my emotions or motivation.
No arena of life is off the hook. The importance of being teachable pertains to both spiritual and physical learning.
John 16:13 tells us Jesus sent the Spirit of Truth to lead us into the depths and riches of all truth. This isn’t a simple 12-week class, but a lifetime of lessons. The Holy Spirit teaches us through Jesus’ life, through the lives of others, through circumstances around us, and by His own voice and leading.
Likewise, every day gives opportunity to learn more about the world around you. While going to school is one avenue, learning is not limited to a classroom. You can be taught by simple observation, experience, listening, and reading. Opportunity knocks on every door. Being teachable requires but one thing: the willingness to learn.
You have to want to know a bigger picture. You have to see the need for it. And while learning is not always the path of least resistance, I’d like to shine light on a few treasures gained if you’re willing.
I can’t think of a single action to guard against pride as much as being teachable. If you’re teachable, you’re saying, “There’s something I don’t know and I’m willing to listen and grow.”
As soon as you think you know it all, you close the door to new possibilities and deeper truths. This isolation may appear safe and comfortable, but soon whatever hope you have begins to shrivel as you realize new questions aren’t always answered by old solutions. Walls that seemed to offer security now stand between you and greater understanding. Vulnerability allows hope to grow as bridges are built and territory expands.
If you think you know it all, you’ve stopped growing. In your mind, there’s no real need to expand or move forward. You’re comfortable where you are. On the other hand, embracing the need to learn pushes you forward. And in going forward, you learn perseverance. Perseverance acknowledges the need to go beyond what you can see and persist to a greater reward.
Too often we complain about what we don’t know, yet never dig out the nuggets of gold right under our feet. Learning begets knowledge. It’s just a matter of pursuing it. You don’t have to make an enormous leap. Just take one step today.
- Look up the definition of a word you’ve never understood.
- Grab a book on that subject you wish you would have studied in college.
- Make a call about a class you’d like to take.
- Research a topic you’ve only heard others talk about, but haven’t yourself studied.
Every journey begins with one step.
Being teachable is not only about acquiring data, but also understanding context, attitudes, choices, pain, motivation. A teachable spirit is open to listening, acknowledging, valuing, identifying with, and learning from what appears foreign at first glance. This, in turn, guards you against the subtle but deadly snare of assumption.
Understanding puts knowledge into context, bringing new perspective, compassion, and motivation. Even if you find the information to be fallible, there is still much to be gained from the interaction.
As you step outside yourself, as you value vulnerability more than pride, kindness has opportunity to grow. When presumption falls away, gentleness has room to take root. Humility opens the door for you to be a valuable piece of the whole. It also allows for a deeper connection with other people and pieces as you recognize their value.Humility opens the door for you to be a valuable piece of the whole. Click To Tweet
Again, choosing to be teachable is not always the easiest path, but worth every step. Here are a few practical tips I’ve learned for walking this out:
- Pray for the desire and grace to learn.
- Nurture curiosity. Get down low and think like a child.
- Be slow to speak; quick to listen.
- Reach out to those outside your immediate circle.
- Don’t hang out with or follow or read only people who agree with you.
- Pursue relationships that challenge you to grow, to reach up, to ponder, to consider, to learn.
- Take risks while staying grounded in irrefutable, foundational truths of our Creator-God.
I’d love to hear what you’ve learned this week? How has it changed your perspective? Any other tips on staying teachable?