walk in the word
A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool (Proverbs 17:10, ESV).
Are you a teachable person? According to this verse in Proverbs, you can get more ROI (return on investment) from a wise person in a single gentle conversation than you can gain from talking to a fool a hundred times. Which are you?
A teachable person will listen when God speaks and change direction accordingly. I believe God can sometimes speak through supernatural ways, but in my experience, His voice has often come through other people. I have received critical course correction through those who love me enough to say, “There’s something you need to change.” And as He speaks through His Word, His Spirit, and other people, we are always faced with a choice: will we be foolish or wise?
If you’re not sure how you rate on the teachability meter, take this five-point quiz:
1. You know you’re teachable when people give you input. When people feel free to give you a word of improvement, it’s a good sign that you’re teachable. Nobody wants to risk cleaning up a meltdown if the person can’t receive a difficult word. As in, “Don’t try to tell him he’s not headed in the right direction because he’ll bite your head off.” A fool is always deeply persuaded that what he is doing is right. A teachable person will receive input.
2. You know you’re teachable when you see measurable growth and character development in yourself. If you’re changing for the better, you’re teachable. If you’re not the same person you were last year at this time, godly instruction has produced results in your life and you have grown because of it.
3. You know you’re teachable when you don’t have to answer a critic with a defense. It’s so refreshing to sit down with a person who can hear a difficult word with an open heart and without defensiveness. Those who are receptive to criticism, flourish.
4. You know you’re teachable when you don’t have to criticize back. The classic symptom of an unteachable person is that they will listen to what you say, all the while framing their comeback, “Now let me tell you something . . .” Can you keep your defenses down and pride in check? Then you’re probably a teachable person.
5. You know you’re teachable when you’re learning new ways to grow. If people have been telling you the same things for years, you’re not teachable. If you’ve grown out of those old issues and are now on to new lessons, you’re on the right track.
Even if you recognize you’ve been a fool, you don’t have to stay that way. The answer to foolishness is wisdom. It’s available—in God’s book, through His Spirit, and often communicated through His people. It’s applicable—it has to do with your life right now. It will help you make a decision, stay the course, and grow your faith.
And it’s delightful! Correcting your course with God’s help is not some awful thing. Proverbs 8:11 tells us, “Wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.” There’s no good reason to remain a fool.
What evidences of being teachable are in your life?
Where is there room for improvement?
Almighty Father, I can point to many times in my life where I have not been teachable. The worst part is, most of the time I don’t realize it because of my blind pride. Please forgive me for willfulness, Father. Continue to put people in my life who will rebuke me in love and keep me on the path You have for me. Help me to grow in my sensitivity toward others who need a word of encouraging truth and to deliver it with grace. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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