BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“For whoever has [a teachable heart], to him more [understanding] will be given; and whoever does not have [a yearning for truth], even what he has will be taken away from him” (Mark 4:25 Amplified Bible).
One of the most important attributes for success in life is to have a teachable heart or attitude. No matter the qualities you possess, if you lack this, you won’t go far in life. There are many talented or gifted people who lack this attribute. Therefore, their progress in life is limited. You must cultivate the attitude of being a permanent learner, learning till you go to the grave. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” Never graduate from learning. Be a life-time, all-time learner.
To do that, you must not only be eager to learn, but you must also be prepared to be taught. They are two different things. Many are eager to learn but not ready to be taught. 2 Timothy 2:2 says, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (NKJV). The people to be taught must be willing and ready to be taught. You can’t force anyone to be taught. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (NKJV). But the child to be trained must cultivate a teachable heart for him to be trained.
Some people wish to learn, but they are not ready to submit themselves to be taught. You will never learn unless you submit yourself to be taught either directly or remotely.
David prayed in Psalm 86:11, “Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth” (NKJV). He prayed again in Psalm 25:4, “Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths” (NKJV). In Psalm 143:10, he equally prayed, “Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness” (NKJV). But the prayer would do him no good if he wasn’t ready to learn what God wanted to teach him.
It is true that Jesus said in John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (NKJV). Even apostle John built upon that and said in 1 John 2:27, “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him” (NKJV). However, the Holy Spirit or the anointing will never force anyone to learn. Being teachable goes beyond merely expressing the desire to learn; you must cultivate the right attitude to learn.
7 Examples of teachable people in the Bible
Here are seven examples of teachable people in the Bible – the list is not exhaustive:
1. Moses. He listened to the advice of his father-in-law, Jethro, to delegate authority to leaders he would choose among the Israelites instead of judging the people alone from morning till evening. Moses followed his advice, benefiting from Jethro’s wisdom, though Moses was the one God gave the assignment to (Exodus 18:13-26).
2. Namaan. Namaan was the commander of the Syrian commander. He listened to his wife on the information from the little slave girl from Israel on how he would be healed of his leprosy if he would go to the prophet in Israel, Elisha. He went. When he didn’t want to dip into the River Jordan because he said there were better rivers in his country, he was persuaded by his servants to do what Elisha said. He changed his mind, dipped in the Jordan seven times, and was healed (2 Kings 5:2-14).
3. The Ethiopian Eunuch. He didn’t feel too big to admit his ignorance when Phillip asked him if he understood what he was reading. Phillip explained to him the scripture he was reading. He asked to be baptized and Phillip baptized him (Acts 8:26-38).
4. Nicodemus. He came to Jesus at night though he was a ruler of the Jews and “the teacher of Israel” (John 3:1, 10). He was also a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin (John 7:50-51). But he didn’t allow that to go to his head. What was important to him was learning what he didn’t know (John 3). What you don’t know, you don’t know! He probably became a secret disciple of Jesus (John 19:39) after his meeting with Jesus that night.
5. The Berean Christians. The Berean Christians listened eagerly to Paul’s message and searched the Scriptures day after day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really teaching the truth (Acts 17:10-11). They didn’t only come to learn; they took their studies so seriously. They had a good attitude. Are you teachable?
6. Apollos. The Bible describes Apollos, a Jew, as an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well (Acts 18:24). He had been taught the way of the Lord, but he knew only about John’s baptism. When he arrived at Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt, he talked to others with great enthusiasm and accuracy about Jesus. But he could only preach what he knew. What you don’t know, you don’t know. After a couple, Priscilla and Aquila, apparently more knowledgeable than him, heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God more accurately to him (Acts 18:24-26).
I want to believe that Apollos listened well to them and added what they taught him to what he already knew. His message would be more accurate from then. He would be a better preacher.
7. Twelve disciples in Ephesus. These twelve disciples didn’t know about the Holy Spirit. They didn’t receive the Holy Spirit when they believed. They didn’t hide their ignorance from Paul, who then told them about the Holy Spirit. They listened to him. They were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus and received the Holy Spirit.
Here is the account of the incident in Acts 19:1-7: “And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ So they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Then Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all” (NKJV).
These twelve disciples were teachable. They would become better disciples after that encounter with Paul. Be teachable.
How to cultivate a teachable heart
1. Study and meditate upon the Word of God, and do what is written there. If you want to be teachable, learn from God. Open His Word and let Him speak into your life. The Word of God will build your character and shape you. God told Joshua in Joshua 1:8, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (NKJV).
The psalmist said in Psalm 119:99-100, “I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts” (NKJV). Don’t just study and meditate on the Word of God alone, be sure to obey. That’s where the blessing is. James 1:25 says, “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (NKJV).
The Word will instruct you the way to go, correct you, rebuke you, etc. The Word won’t leave you the same. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV).
Don’t reject the knowledge of God or the knowledge He wants to pass to you in His Word. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (NKJV).
2. Humble yourself. 1 Peter 5:5b and James 4:6b say, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (NKJV). Proverbs 3:34b also says God gives grace to the humble.
Don’t be proud. It takes humility to learn. Humble yourself. Proverbs 15:33 says, “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility” (NKJV).
Humble yourself. Sometimes you may have to learn from someone younger than you or someone you’re superior to. You must forget about your status, humble yourself and learn what the person wants to teach you.
3. Listen and observe. Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days” (NKJV). The word, listen, is used many times in the Bible. Listen to the Word of God being preached. Pay attention.
Don’t always dominate discussions. You learn when you listen and observe (watch). God gave you two ears and two eyes but one mouth! Use your ears and eyes more than your mouth! Listen and observe. A teachable person listens more than he talks. If you talk more than you listen, especially before a superior, mentor or coach, it’s a sign that you’re not teachable.
Don’t have a reputation for listening only to yourself! You can learn from anybody – your juniors, subordinates, or even those not as knowledgeable as you are. Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart” (NKJV).
4. Quit the company of fools and learn from wise people and superiors. Proverbs 13:20 says if you walk with wise men, you shall be wise; but the companion of fools shall be destroyed. Proverbs 14:7 says “Stay away from fools, for you won’t find knowledge there” (NLT). If you want to learn useful things, get away from fools.
Learn from wise people and superiors. These could be your mentors, teachers in school, bosses at work or leaders in your chosen fields. When you are with them, don’t show them what you know. Listen and take notes. Ask questions. Don’t waste the time you spend with them. If you have an appointment with them, prepare questions you will ask them so that you can maximize your time. Proverbs 15:7 says, “The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, but the heart of the fool does not do so” (NKJV).
5. Seek counsel, ask questions, and request help. Don’t assume you know it all. The Laodicean church says, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17 NKJV). That was an error. Anyone who has this attitude will be unteachable. Nobody knows everything. We all have our areas of ignorance. Even with regard to what you know, understand that knowledge is increasing and expanding every day.
Proverbs 3:7a says you should not be wise in your own eyes. According to Proverbs 26:12, there is more hope for a fool than for someone who is wise in his own eyes.
Don’t be ashamed to let people know you don’t know something. What you don’t know, you don’t know. Romans 12:16c says, “Don’t think you know it all!” (NLT).
6. Invest in materials that will increase and broaden your knowledge. These include books, tapes, videos, etc. It will cost you time and money, but it’s worth it. There is strictly no entirely new idea anywhere; people are building on what others have done or receiving inspiration to veer into new dimensions of what already exists. Stand on the shoulders of others by learning from them. Proverbs 4:5a says to get wisdom and get understanding!
Even in prison, Paul was still reading. He said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:13 says, “Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come — and the books, especially the parchments” (NKJV).
Daniel said in Daniel 9:2 that he understood by the books the number of the years whereof the word of the LORD came to Prophet Jeremiah, for the accomplishing of the desolations of Jerusalem, even seventy years. He didn’t write that book. It was written by somebody else. But he read and discovered a truth there.
7. Accept responsibility for your failures and take correction. Proverbs 12:1 says, “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction” (NLT). Don’t hate correction. Proverbs 29:1 says, “Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be broken beyond repair” (NLT). Don’t pass the buck; don’t engage in a blame game. Admit your faults. Take correction; change your mind where you’re wrong. Don’t persist in error because of ego. Proverbs 17:10 says, “Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool” (NKJV). According to Proverbs 15:31-32, “The ear that hears the rebukes of life will abide among the wise. He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding” (NKJV).
Benefits of being teachable
1. God will bless you. You will prosper as you learn from God and obey. Jesus said in Matthew 11:29, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (NKJV). Proverbs 8:32 says, “Now therefore, listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways” (NKJV). Take note of that word, listen. Listen to God and keep His Word; you’ll be blessed. God’s correction is out of love for you. Hebrews 12:6 says those the LORD loves He disciplines. You will be blessed if you do what He asks you to do. Proverbs 13:18 says, “Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction” (NKJV). However, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19 NKJV).
2. It keeps you humble and helps you to grow in humility. Pride and insecurity are the main reasons for being unteachable. Psalm 25:9 says, “The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way” (NKJV). According to Proverbs 13:10, “By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom” (NKJV).
3. You will learn more and become more knowledgeable and wiser. You will experience spiritual and personal growth. There will be an improvement in all departments of your life. You will live a better life. Proverbs 9:9 says, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning” (NKJV).
4. You will have healthy interpersonal relationships. You will not have unnecessary arguments and disagreements with people. This is because you listen to people, admit your faults, readily change where you’re wrong, not defensive when criticized, etc.
5. People will respect you or regard you as a person of integrity. People respect and have regard for you when you humble yourself and seek to be knowledgeable, instead of hiding your ignorance and pretending. They will see you as a person of integrity when you can admit your errors or mistakes and not lie or engage in a blame game.
Conclusion: Are you teachable? If you’re not teachable your life won’t get better and your ignorance will be your shame. “For whoever has [a teachable heart], to him more [understanding] will be given; and whoever does not have [a yearning for truth], even what he has will be taken away from him” (Mark 4:25 Amplified Bible).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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