A Culture of Teachability

Awestruck

I sat amazed and humbled as people went around and commented on what I had just said. I shared from Colossians 1:13-20 (one of my favorite passages) and I talked about the centrality of the cross in the life of the Christian. I am always dumbfounded when Christians make Christ’s atoning death on the cross out to be “Introductory Christianity”. But that wasn’t this group. They did not treat my message of the gospel as if it was Christianity 101. Instead, they gladly accepted the word that I brought and chewed on it.

Devoured it.

Analyzed it.

Saw if it had any value.

And to them it did.

Tears began to well up in my eyes as I thought, “I don’t deserve to be here. I don’t deserve to be sharing with these people. I don’t deserve any of this, Lord.” But I was wrong because there I was. With these Ugandans. Talking about Jesus.

Not only was I humbled by the moment, I was also awestruck at how willing they were to learn from what I had to share. I had to be one of the youngest people in the circle that we were sitting in but that didn’t hinder the Ugandans from being willing to listen to me. People twice my age were listening to me share about Jesus.

This is not like America.

This is not like America at all.

“I Know”

A friend pointed out to me that in the United States two very common words are “I know”. You will typically hear these words when someone is getting instructed, corrected, or taught something. It makes us sound arrogant. As if we know everything. We are a highly educated society, and it shows. But are we teachable?

The thing about those two words is that once they leave your mouth you forfeit the opportunity to be teachable.

If we aren’t in a posture of learning, then how can we grow?

In the age of information, we act as if we have reached the pinnacle of knowledge. Google is our God.

That is the culture that we live in here in the United States. Nobody can tell us anything because we think that we already know it all. And that is prideful.

Kingdom Culture

There is a Kingdom Culture that transcends all Earthly cultures.

There are aspects of cultures that Jesus says “Yes” to, and there are aspects of cultures that Jesus says “No” to.

It is my belief that the teachability found in African culture is a cultural aspect that Jesus says “Yes” to. It is also my belief that the pride and arrogance found in America’s know-it-all culture are something that Jesus says “No” to. We can deduct this last point from two key Scriptures:

41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover.

42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. (Luke 41-52, NIV)

We see in this passage that Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem with his parents for the Passover. After the Festival, Jesus parents left Jerusalem and ended up leaving Jesus behind (somehow). When they returned to Jerusalem, they found him in the temple “listening to [the elders] and asking them questions”.

It is interesting to note that the Son of God, the One with infinite intelligence, also was teachable and asked questions of those that would have seemingly known more than him. Even though he was God, he had a teachable spirit and didn’t flaunt his wisdom and intelligence. He was willing to listen and inquire.

Another Scripture worth noting is Philippians 2:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:1-4, NIV)

If we have been saved by Christ, then we should share in Christ’s mindset, Paul is saying. And, as we just saw, one aspect of Christ’s mindset was his teachability despite being the Son of God that held all wisdom and knowledge. Then it would make sense for us to also be teachable despite what field we are an expert in, how much schooling we’ve had, or what kind of life experiences we’ve had. Fill in the blank.

Let us replace the words “I Know” with the phrase “Please, Tell Me More”.

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