He really is a stand-out kid; smart, capable, clever, and helpful. He brings me more joy than I could say with his goofy 8-year-old grin, and the thoughtful ways he cares for others. He also knows how to push my buttons with incredible precision.
Whenever I correct his behavior, he resists, pushes back and tries to wrestle me for control…all too often. Many times I can take it in stride—stay the course, and calmly hand down a reasonable consequence—but give me the right recipe of exhaustion, feeling spread thin, and boiling frustration over the fact that we have been around this bush a million times, and you will see my grace for him melt away as hot anger overtakes me.
I think to myself, “If only he wouldn’t contest my authority. If only he would listen to me and understand that his choices have real consequences. If only he could see that what I do is ultimately meant to help him. If only he were a little more teachable, maybe this wouldn’t be such an exhausting experience.”
For all my frustration with my son’s stubborn behavior, I can be exactly the same way.
When a leader or trusted friend points out a sensitive area of in my life that I can’t (or don’t want to) see, I throw up my defenses and try to reason away things that may need to be addressed. When God convicts my heart about a behavior or an issue, my natural tendency is to deflect, compare, or excuse myself from it. Acknowledging weaknesses, mistakes, and straight up sin isn’t comfortable for anyone. In fact, it is something like digging out an infected splinter. It might hurt in the moment, but it is ultimately for the best in the long run.
“My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when He corrects you. For the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom He delights.” Proverbs 3:11-12
To be teachable means that I choose to be humble.
It means I am open, listening, and ready to take action in a new direction, with new perspective when it is given to me—even if dealing with the circumstance is inconvenient or uncomfortable. It means I lay down my pride so that I might receive wisdom from God as a willing student of His grace, acknowledging that His ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55:8). There is a deeper reality than what we often see on the surface.
Sometimes God corrects me, not to humiliate me, but to keep me from harm.
Sometimes God prunes my branches, not to damage me, but to help me bear fruit.
Sometimes God humbles me, not to make me angry but to soften my heart and prepare me to receive His good gifts.
Sometimes God slows me down, not to punish me, but to help me hear His voice in the quiet of my heart.
Sometimes God allows me to feel weak, not to put me in my place, but to show me how mercifully He can heal the deepest hurts as I trust myself to His care.
“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” 1 Corinthians 13:12
To cultivate a teachable heart means I recognize that sometimes there are things in the picture that I do not see.
Cultivating a teachable heart opens me up to understanding myself and my circumstances from a new perspective. It means that I can move forward, humbly and confidently, after receiving the Lord’s discipline, care, and guidance for whatever challenges lie ahead of me without my pride in the way.
Cultivating a teachable heart is a core part of being a disciple of Jesus. It requires that I acknowledge my dependence on His grace, and invites me to remember that as His child, He delights in me. He corrects me entirely for my benefit, that I might lay hold of abundant life and the peace that passes all understanding.
“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6