To Whom Do You Choose To Be Teachable?
“If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding” (Proverbs 15:32 NLT).
What does being teachable mean to you? I’ve been contemplating what I believe it to mean and how I reflect this in my life.
I have a procedure I try to implement when it comes to critical feedback. It’s worthy to note that by critical and criticism, I do not mean an attack. I mean an evaluative suggestion of improvement or observation from another (usually well-meaning) individual.
When I hear criticism, I hold it temporarily; assess if it is something I need to take on board or not. If this process of reflection brings light to a change I could make which would be beneficial, I endeavour to do so and take steps to do so. If my thoughtful consideration doesn’t deem the change valuable, I catalogue it or dismiss it.
There is so much good that can come from giving thoughtful feedback, asking for thoughtful feedback and receiving thoughtful feedback.
It can lead to meaningful growth. Growth in self, relationships, community, knowledge and in impact.
Unfortunately, I hear the most feedback from people I do not know and that do not mean me well. This is the nature of the internet, the almost anonymous individual, the separation of contact, the lack of need for filtering, the public and global audience and the ease of reach. The continuous spewing of opinions on various internet forums, social and not, has given us a distasteful experience of opinions.
I believe it makes asking for advice more difficult.
I believe more people are asking Google for advice than their Mother.
I believe more people are asking Wikihow for tips than their lecturers.
I believe people are spending more time with Wikipedia’s history than their Grandparents.
It is not uncommon to hear of bigger trust in the internet algorithm diagnosis than a medical doctor’s diagnosis. We have accepted the fallibility of humanity and tried to control it with the wealth of information on the internet.
However, to whom do you choose to be teachable?
Who do you desire to learn from? Who do you respect? Where do you find sound teaching?
“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”
2 Timothy 1:13-14 (NIV)
I found it in the example and life of Christ Jesus. Thus, I try to hold his gospel as my measure, as the rock upon which I stand. This doesn’t mean that I do not learn from anyone other than Christ and his followers. In fact, I am often surprised where and from whom I am impacted to grow in wise and meaningful ways.
Often, we look to receive the advice we have already chosen for ourselves.
We often choose friends that think very similarly to us. Biologically we exercise confirmation bias. We scan incoming information for that which matches what we already believe and take it as validation.
Our data cookies do it too; our ads and content match what we look for, have looked for and click on. It has become necessary to be wholly intentional about seeking opinions that differ to our own, it has become more difficult to stumble across it. Taking responsibility for our own growth can be simple or comprehensive. It often requires listening and reflection.
If we desire to grow in our knowledge of God, one way is to read from the huge diversity of books in the Bible. Our social and personal culture, our parenting and our patterns of behaviour, these things, they could benefit from the impact of a diverse range of people. I don’t recommend being uncritical. I do recommend being open-minded.
“Become friends with people who aren’t your age. Hang out with people whose first language isn’t the same as yours. Get to know someone who doesn’t come from your social class. This is how you see the world. This is how you grow.”
Gabriela Antonini chronicles snapshots of her moments on her Instagram @g_and_tribe, in between racing one of her three lively children, sharing chocolate with her theologian husband, feeding her ever-hungry progeny or singing lyrics wrong with the hubs. She is often found with her nose in a book, at the beach, up a tree or carrying around a teapot. Born in Slovakia, a childhood spent in Melbourne, she now lives in Perth heartily appreciating its exquisitely mild weather.