In the athletic world, one of the number one attributes that coaches look for in prospective athletes is coach-ability. In the professional world, employers look for teachability. Either way, A mindset of humility and listening is largely beneficial to our efforts in the gym, in the workplace, and to our sanctification. This was a tough lesson for me to learn this week as I am relatively new to the high school classroom. Therefore, my background in competitive sports and athletics do not always serve me well in my teaching role. To make a very long story short I tried to drive my students to higher grades on daily quizzes by having them compete against each other for higher grades. While the athlete in me would respond well to this type of stimulus, some of my students don't operate with the same mindset.
This week I got the opportunity to listen and hear from many people who have been where I've been and done what I've done and made some of the same mistakes that I have made. In those moments I had one of two options. Option number one was to believe that I was right and that they were wrong. To believe that I knew better. What they were saying may be true of their situation but it was not true of mine. To believe that my vast experience in one semester of teaching reigned superior to the knowledge and wisdom being passed to me from wise counsel. Ultimately not be teachable. The other option I had before me was to humble myself and listen. To be teachable. To hear the advice and the wise counsel of others in light of my inadequacies, inexperience, and blindness. What's more, I had the option of hearing that advice and constructive criticism and responding positively for the betterment of my teaching career, my students classroom experience, and ultimately my relationship with the Lord. I chose the latter despite my reluctancy.
Proverbs speaks to this end:
“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance” (1:5)
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” (12:15)
“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (15:22)
“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” (19:20)
Kevin DeYoung in his book, Just Do Something said, “If no one has ever heard you change your mind about something then you are either a god or you have mistaken yourself for one.”
God uses those around us to mold, prune, shape, and refine us. Our openness to criticism and willingness to hear sound words of wisdom from others opens us to God's chisel. Psalm 19:12 says, “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.” Often we can't see the areas of our life that detract and keep us from personal holiness. What's more, sometimes those areas of our life can keep others from seeing Christ in us or experiencing the Gospel through us.
It took years and years of great coaches to help me become a competitive weightlifter. Had I not heard what they said and believed that there were things to be changed in my lifts, much of my growth would have never come to fruition.
Take advice well. Listen humbly. Be attentive to their words. Don't ignore the criticism of others. Be teachable. The development of your holiness depends on it.