Am I Teachable?
Proverbs 9:9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
As a teacher who has instructed middle and high school students in the classroom for many years, and a pastor who has taught through the bible in numerous sermons and bible studies, I love teaching. However, this post isn’t about teaching… it’s about learning. Through many hours of looking into the faces of my students, I’ve seen clearly that not everyone wants to learn.
The previous verses in this passage speak about the futility of trying to correct the scoffer. The writer says that such a wasted effort only brings shame to the teacher along with the hatred of the student. But who is a scoffer? He is someone who treats the message, or messenger, with contempt and mockery. Not fun when you’re a teacher trying to convey something meaningful to others. There’s nothing worse than facing a set of rolling eyes, or even an indifferent stare, while teaching your heart out.
But, as much as I hate casting pearls of wisdom before scoffing swine, I have to ask myself whether I, myself, make a good student. Am I eager to learn and grow, or am I apt to tune out or, worse, scorn the message and/or messenger? I believe there are two reasons a person becomes unteachable.
The first is pride. When I think I know it all, or at least more than the one who is instructing me, then I won’t learn a thing. Sometimes, it’s not the message, but the messenger… “Who is this guy to tell me anything?”
The second issue is an unwillingness to change. The purpose of teaching, at least in the church, is not just head knowledge, but transformation. When we learn, we grow. Some people simply aren’t willing to change. This shows itself in an unwillingness to accept correction and repent of sin, but also in a general apathy about spiritual maturity.
Either way, there is no desire or willingness to learn so teaching becomes impossible. Whether in the classroom or the congregation, this is a frustrating experience for a teacher… even more so when I glimpse these tendencies in myself! I don’t ever want to stop learning and growing, so I pray for a heart of humility and surrender as I recognize that God’s plan for my growing spiritual maturity will only come about through the instruction and correction of others that He has placed in my life for that purpose. If I want to grow, I must be teachable!