In wrapping up the series on development, being teachable is a sensitive subject for many people. The mere idea of being described as non-teachable can be offensive and insulting to a person that protects their accomplishments. It poses a false, non-existent challenge in their minds regarding their success, endurance and achievements. The immediate reaction is to defend your position – posturing oneself as oppositional to the truth. In my earlier blog, I referenced my own situation in which I did not seek an understanding, but in response of being noted as non-teachable, I immediately defended my intentions and accomplishments. My behavior exemplified insecurities and using my accomplishments as a crutch in confrontation. What???? Yes, I used my accomplishments as a crutch in confrontation thus I was non-teachable. It was a great way of graciously displaying “I know it all” without saying it all.
How do you know if you are non-teachable? Some of the symptoms: despising correction, explaining when correction is given; pretending to accept correction with “yes sir,” and “yes ma’am” but secretly resenting the truth or conversing secretly with those viewed as allies of your understanding. Never implementing the principles taught, limited to no application of the principles given, collection of notes without application and never asking questions about the information or guidance given – “taking it all in.” Sometimes I brace myself for the opening defense: “With all due respect” which most often lend to “I do not agree.”
When you are teachable, there is healthy dialogue, follow up, muse moments and initiation of discussions. Most importantly, there is internal conviction and activation of the information received. One that is teachable has a hearty appetite to learn and live in principles of success. But most of all, you realize the cost of the teaching. The cost is high because you have to abandoned old ways of thinking, living and believing. The teachable ones are focused and determined, not unstable and wavering. The feedback is firm and forward. Teachable is huge – most can comprehend information, but can you apply and live the principles?
Development has so many dynamics and this can go on and on forever, but I have shared a few key elements that will hopefully spark your quest for the journey of purpose. Before undertaking any development opportunity or becoming an understudy, self-assess your status: Are you teachable? How do you know? I have provided you with a list of the “Un-teachable symptoms” to answer truthfully:
- You are paranoid of someone’s intentions to insult or degrade you. not ready
- You feel entitled to express your opinions if you disagree with correction. not ready
- You require certain styles of feedback and certain parts of your life are off limits for feedback, inquiry or correction. not ready
- You have certain elements of life you are still working through and prefer to keep those private and not open for discussion or correction. not ready
- You want the purpose, gift or ministry element without personal accountability. not ready
- You feel overlooked and want someone to provide that opportunity. not ready
- Experiences from past mentors, leaders or officials have left a mark of resentment of being used, underdeveloped or “held back” or just not “used” in ministry. not ready
- You have no previous experience of decision-making in any venue of purpose. not ready
- You have no experience or limited experience with cutting-edge leaders. definitely not ready
- You have not really settled in your identity. not ready
If you have one or more of these symptoms, you are not ready for development and are probably not teachable. These 10 points are markers that require submission to someone in authority. This is not the job of the developer, teacher or mentor. When someone of authority provides instruction, or direction and your point is “I see what your are saying;” “I will think about it;” “I will get back to you” or “Where is this coming from?” All phrases lead to damage. Deal with the internal elements before wrecking development. If you engage someone of authority, you will lay blame for failure and your past life, looking to them to fix you instead of developing you.
To be teachable: apt and willing to learn; able to be taught. First lesson for me many years ago from one of my mentors: You need to become teachable. My response was “I am and that is why I am here.” He stared at me and shook his head in dismay. I continued to explain that if I was not interested and did not want the teaching, I would not be sacrificing my time and would not take the feedback. I explained that I came to him for help and I do everything he tells me to do. I had my notebooks, outlines and came ready for sessions. I was offended that he even suggested that I was not teachable. I had completed one degree already and had a career; that must have meant something. He kept looking at me and finally stated: “You never once asked me what I meant, you assumed your own understanding. See you next week.” Session ended.
Teachable . . . more on the blog next Tuesday