Jimmy Evans was a victim of an unteachable spirit in regards to his marriage that was on the brink of divorce. The morning he was going to sign the divorce papers he read a simple Bible verse, John 16:13, which states “the Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth.” Evans believed that there was a way to succeed at his marriage and that God would lead him to the answers. Today, he is the co-founder of Marriage Today, a national marriage counseling ministry. Can you guess who the other co-founder is? That’s right, it’s his wife Karen and they have been married for 35 years.
Below are some of the attributes that Evans and many others have played by to maintain a Teachable Spirit. They are broken down into 2 categories: Four Characteristics of an UN-Teachable Spirit and Four Characteristics of a Teachable Spirit. As you go through these, keep in mind that we all have our own struggle with teach-ability. Some of us might be teachable in sports or cooking but unteachable in marriage or money. Congratulate yourself on the characteristics you already have and strive to apply the rest.
Four characteristics of an UN-teachable spirit:
1. Chronic Failure: All of us have failed at certain things but if you have a knack for repetitive failure in money, marriage, parenting, emotions, self-control, personal discipline, and other inevitable life characteristics then you need to check your teach-ability. The reason why chronic failure is first on the list is because the answers are out there. There is no reason to continually fail when there are plenty of great leaders setting a more than excellent example on how we can move past our failures. The most successful people are constantly surrounded with counselors and advisors but those who struggle heavily won’t even read a book about it.
2. An Argumentative and Defensive Nature: Do you care about what others have to say or do you feel threatened by those with differing opinions? Learn to listen to others and really try to understand where they are coming from. Don’t be quick to state your case. Put the other person’s interests ahead of your own. Instead of raising an argument, ask questions about the points that don’t make sense to you. This will either shed some light on issues that you are not familiar with or help the other person to examine their own advice without confrontation.
3. Isolation and Withdrawal In Times of Difficulty: Getting help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of wisdom. “A man who isolates himself seeks his own judgment; he rages against all wise judgment. A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.” -Proverbs.
4. Laziness: Proverbs also says, “the lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly. The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” A lazy person thinks they have it figured out but they are really at the bottom looking up. A lot of times they are already at the bottom of the pit of laziness before they figure out where they are.
Four Characteristics of a Teachable Spirit:
1. Humility: Admitting that you don’t have it all figured out is the place to start. Welcome to the club! Realize that everyone has their own character and teach-ability flaws. Go seek out wise instruction on how you can improve.
2. Graciously Accept Correction and Input: Proverbs 9:8 says, “rebuke a wise man and he will love you.” This does not mean that you have to agree with everything people say but we all should have an open mind and a heart to listen to others.
3. Seeking Wise Counsel In Times of Decisions, Difficulty, or Chronic Failure: This is not weak. This is a practice of wisdom and all successful people do it. Notice that it says “WISE” counsel. Do not confide in anyone. Find someone who has been successful in the quality you are trying to improve. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in a multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.”
4. Submitting To Authority and Staying Accountable: Respect those who are over you even if you don’t agree with everything they say. Put their good attributes into practice and learn from their faults. Find someone to keep you accountable in the areas you are trying to improve.
The author of proverbs, Solomon, is said to be the wisest man to ever set foot on the planet. In Proverbs 12:1 he says, “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” Most parents teach their children not to say “stupid” but Solomon was definitely trying to make a point. We are all born into this world not knowing anything but the difference between those who succeed and those who fail is not aptitude, it’s attitude.