Are you good at taking criticism? Unfortunately, I am not. I am quite easily riled by people pointing out faults, criticising my efforts, and telling me I’m wrong. Let’s be honest – most of us probably are in a similar boat. But is that healthy? It supposes that we think we are always right and never do anything wrong. Which we know of course is nonsense! We, therefore, can only come to the realisation that to be corrected, guided, advised, cautioned, taught, and led by those we trust around us must be a good thing. Thus it is our attitude towards these things that is at fault. And this is where the teachable spirit comes in.
When we adopt a teachable spirit in our lives each day, we allow ourselves not only to grow in character, humility, integrity, and peace but in knowledge, wisdom, and discernment too.
Offended too easily
Arguably, in today’s society, we are far too easily offended. We are so ready to throw stones at people who say something or do something that we deem wrong, insulting, or contrary to what we believe. What we fail to realise is that we are not all the same; we have different life experiences; we are brought up in different cultures; people aspire to different goals and hold varying values; we follow different belief systems. No one person on this planet is the same. As such, we need to afford people more grace, to listen more, and make more effort to understand one another. This does not mean we excuse people from wrong-doing, but it does mean we should be open-minded enough to hear people out, learn from them, create discussion and encourage growth.
Just because you don’t agree with someone, doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them. Or even like them!
Cancel culture is toxic. It’s wrong and only shows the small-mindedness of people who think they know it all.
Fostering a teachable spirit
So how do we go about being more teachable? It’s certainly not something we can just switch on and be amazing at right away. But, like anything worth doing, it will take dedication, intention, and patience. And I put myself in this boat too. Like I said before, I’m not very good at being corrected. But a teachable spirit is also much more than taking hits well. It’s about being a good listener, being hungry for knowledge, learning to apply what we learn, seeking new opinions, honing discernment, and sharpening our wisdom. It’s about growth.
If we are hoping to become more teachable, we have to look for opportunities to be taught. These can be obvious things like studying certain topics, practicing certain skills, or seeking specific advice from more knowledgeable people. But it can also be recognising when we are in the wrong, seeking other opinions, and questioning our attitudes and prejudices. Recognising that we don’t know it all and living life as a constant student is a good approach to take.
Listening to correction doesn’t mean admitting failure. Our attitude will speak volumes. If we throw in the towel and have a hissy fit then that says a lot about our character. however, if we listen patiently, we might actually learn something, even if it is just that we were wrong. And that’s okay. It’s okay to be wrong. What’s not okay is not learning from it and continuing to grow. People see situations from different perspectives, so remembering that we are not omniscient will keep you humble enough to listen first. We correct the people we care about to help them make wise choices, so we need to accept that favour in return.
Everyone is a teacher
Everyone has a gift. We are all good at something. Therefore we all have knowledge that can help other people. This means that we should never dismiss someone before we hear them speak. You don’t have to agree, and you may have further questions for them, but by respecting someone’s autonomy and life experiences, you show kindness, humility, and a willingness to listen. We are all valuable. We all have something unique to offer. Always be ready to listen.
Put it into practice
There’s absolutely no point in adopting a teachable spirit if you don’t put what you learn into action. By demonstrating what you are learning, be it knowledge, attitude, skill or belief, we must make the conscious effort to live it daily. Our behaviours should show that we are open, sponges, receptors, and willing, to adopt change, take on new things, and reflect them back.