The older I get (which means the more I realize how little I know), the more I cherish this aptitude whenever I encounter it in people: teachability. This aptitude is so important (and impressive) to me that it is high up on my list of “non-negotiables” in my search for a suitable mate. Because many of us like to be right, have something to prove and an ego to defend (for our life!), I feel it’s a miracle whenever I detect teachability in people or move to become more teachable myself.

Generally (or at least in my experience) , when respectfully approached, children and teens are wonderfully teachable. If they learn to sustain that attitude, then great! I think teachability is a mark of maturity, a sign of adult thinking. But for some reason, many technically aged adults are not teachable. And ironically, in their resistance to widen their perspective, they are in fact quite juvenile and adolescent.

Broadly speaking, I would venture to say that without teachable people, there can be no progress, peace, or redemption. More specifically, I think it is an essential posture for any disciple of Christ.

I will offer no definition of teachability here, but here are some indicators of this aptitude I have experienced from teachable people whom I am blessed to know and who have set an example for me to follow (because I can be a tough nut to crack in some of my beliefs and perceptions):

  • Willingness to listen and acknowledge another point of view
  • Acknowledgement of limitations
  • Ability to admit wrong
  • Acknowledgement of reality (especially where the situation involves limitations)
  • Self-awareness
  • Self-acceptance (especially in areas of personal limitations)
  • Humility
  • Openness to positive AND negative feedback

“Limitations” is obviously a big factor here, so I can understand how difficult it is to admit them. It IS hard to acknowledge and accept our limits because we feel justified by our achievements, hard work, education, hubris, drive, and for some of us, youthfulness to have it all, especially our right to be right.

As fallible human beings, we can’t maintain this posture unceasingly. But here are some things we can do to be more easily moved to teachability:

  • read (lots)
  • ask questions
  • figure out what we don’t and do know
  • say “I don’t know” or “I might be wrong about …” (it won’t kill us!!)
  • pray
  • befriend and listen to people wiser and more experienced than us and people different from us
  • initiate reconciliation in a strained relationship that’s worth saving (so easy for me to say!)
  • consult with peers
  • get counselling (professional or pastoral)

That’s all I can think of for now. Ok, getting off my high horse now.