I love lists. I love articles and blog posts that include lists of one thing and another. The Bible is big on lists. There are lists of things to avoid, list of things to do and lists of leadership qualities (I Timothy 3; Titus 1 and I Peter 5.) There are lists concerning the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) and lists of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
I love lists of ideas, attributes, warnings and commands as they help me know what God’s desires are for me and how he would have me live my life--both as a follower and as a leader. As I am led by him, empowered by Him and seek to honor him, I want to pay attention to what is in all these lists, so I can trust the Holy Spirit for ongoing personal transformation.
I have been a Christian for 56 years and in vocational Christian ministry for 47 years. I have given a great deal of thought to what is on all the lists in the Bible where the Lord expresses his desires for us.
There is one indispensable quality that I would put at the top of all of the lists.
That one indispensable quality is being teachable: Having the mind-set of a life-long learner…being open to learn from anyone at anytime on any topic. With His help, being teachable sets us up for growing in all the other areas of our walk with the Lord.
I have met very old Christians who are still teachable and I have met very young Christians who are not. I have met some very humble leaders and I have met some very arrogant leaders who have a hard time listening to anyone but himself or herself!
I remember shortly after I was married, I was starting to memorize Proverbs 13:10 in the King James, “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” Due to my poor handwriting, my wife, Susan, thought the P was a B and asked why the Bible would say only by “bride” cometh contention. We both had a good laugh.
Here is Proverbs 13:10 in the ESV: “By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.”
Wisdom, from God’s perspective, lies in knowing how to take advice.
If there is one book in the Bible that majors in teachability, it would be the book of Proverbs.
Here are two of my favorites from Proverbs:
“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (Proverbs 18:2 ESV)
“…and you say, ‘Oh, if only I had listened! If only I had not demanded my own way! Oh, why wouldn’t I take advice? Why was I so stupid?’” (Proverbs 5:12,13 The Living Bible)
When I’m thinking of investing in a person, having a teachable spirit is the number one quality I’m looking for. When I see a true hunger to learn and grow and a genuine humility that is willing to be taught, confronted or corrected, there is no limit to what that person can learn or how much influence that person can have for the kingdom.
I have met a few who wanted to learn, but didn’t want to be taught. They wanted to learn on their own and were not really open to having anyone else speak into their lives. It’s sad, to say the least.
If a leader is not teachable he/she won’t continue to hear from God (and others) and continue to grow and mature into the kind of follower and leader God desires.
This unteachable leader will eventually fall into other sins and disqualify him/herself. If a person is truly teachable, God can get through to each leader on every other issue or sin. If the leader is truly teachable, then other people will have permission and freedom to speak into his/her life and that will lead to more growth, which honors Jesus.
In several posts I’ve mentioned Warren Myers, one of my early mentors who went to be with Jesus at the age of 78. Warren had spent his life studying the Bible and knew it and lived it better than any man I have ever known. He was not perfect by any means, but when it was clear he had sinned, he was quick to own it and ask for forgiveness from the lord and from anyone he had sinned against.
The last time I saw him alive, we were having lunch together in Colorado Springs. He asked me (he always asked lots of questions) what Jesus had been recently making clear to me. As I began to share he took notes on what I was saying for his own personal growth. I couldn’t believe it…at 78, still growing, still learning--even from one of his disciples.
Are you truly teachable? Can you be confronted without bristling or making excuses for yourself? Do you ask questions when you are with others or are you quick to tell everyone your opinion on the topic at hand? Are you reading books that facilitate your ongoing maturity and influence for the kingdom?
In short, are you growing in “The Indispensable Quality Every Leader Needs to Possess?”