I have just come to the end of two years of leadership development training. Once a month I had the privilege of spending two days being challenged and motivated to look at my life and really wrestle with the message of the Bible, where I am in God and where I think he wants me to head in the future.
I learned from some truly amazing men and women who poured out their wisdom and knowledge, graciously sharing what God has taught them over many years of walking faithfully with him. There were some weekends that I simply didn't want to end – I just wanted to sit at the speakers' feet and listen for days longer. Of course, now I've finished the course, the sense of commissioning and purpose is intense: God doesn't just want us to listen and learn, he expects us to do – James 1 tells us:
'"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do." (James 1:22–25)
I have been blessed by so much input over the last few years, some of which I have already begun to implement, but much more I still have to work through. But one of the things that struck me was how much I have benefitted these last couple of years from those who have been willing to teach, encourage, correct and challenge. I also realised the weight of authority those who taught me carried when they shared: their words rang so true because they had lived them out for years. It got me pondering: how teachable have I been in the past?
We live in a culture that tells us whatever you feel is right is therefore right for you. That no one has the right to tell you something you want to do is wrong. Society is so 'me'-centric, but how much room does that leave for looking to others to learn from their knowledge and experience? And how do we respond when someone offers us wise counsel? I am aware of times when I have been very dismissive of another's input, which, when I look back, I can recognise was tempered with grace and honesty.
Being teachable means admitting our own limitations and recognising that we don't have all the answers. Humility involves listening carefully to those around us rather than simply assuming our opinions are always right.
Of course, our ultimate teacher and counsellor is the Holy Spirit, so we need to ensure that our hearts are always softened towards him, ready to listen to his gentle leading and instruction. He will help us to decipher what is and isn't wise counsel too.
God's divine power has also "given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness" (2 Peter 1:3). I believe that part of his provision is through those he brings into our lives – other Christians who can encourage, inspire and spur us on.
There are so many scriptures about living humbly and in unity with one another. 1 Peter 5:5 says, "All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because 'God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.'"
So can I ask you today: when did you last spend time with someone who has more experience in life and in God than you with the intention of learning from them? Are you open to God teaching you through those around you, or are you dismissive of their words? Maybe God wants to teach you more about yourself through how you respect and listen to those around you. Why not ask him if there is someone that he wants you to learn from today?