Have you ever had a student who already “knew” all the answers? Whether teaching music, working with a church youth group, homeschooling my children, or sharing advice with someone who has asked for counsel, I have found it to be sometimes comical, always a bit frustrating, and ultimately sad to try to teach someone who does not feel they have a need to learn.
I remember one piano student in particular who was quite gifted, but did not feel he needed to learn to read the notes or count. He relied entirely on his memory, and his talent. I tried to inspire him, instruct him, and prod him, but he just didn’t think he had anything to learn. He refused to practice, and was quite sure of himself.
We began preparing for our Christmas recital, and true to form, he did not wish to practice his pieces; however, he kept assuring me that he would be ready. The night of the recital, he stumbled through his song, and was thoroughly embarrassed. I felt badly for him, but hoped he would learn his lesson, and begin to be teachable. Regrettably, his response was to quit taking lessons. I often wonder if he ever learned to play piano, and think how much different the results might have been had he been willing to be taught.
Recently, my first-grade daughter was having some problems with reading. Her struggles were not because a lack of ability, but rather a lack of “teachability”. If she was reading and mispronounced a word, she did not want to be corrected, and would get quite upset if I attempted to correct or instruct her. Because of this, reading became a battle almost every day. Once again, I tried to inspire, encourage, prod, and correct, seemingly to no avail.
Then one day she came to me and said, “Mom, I’ve decided I want to be into reading.”
Surprised, but thrilled, I replied, “That’s great! Reading helps you be really smart.”
The rest of the day she walked around with a book in hand, and since then, her reading has improved drastically. She didn’t acquire any new skills or knowledge that day, but when she truly desired to learn, and was willing to be taught, everything changed. It has been so exciting to me to watch her ability develop, and her enjoyment of reading grow.
Sometimes I wonder, am I the student who cannot be taught? I do not know how to be the wife I need to be. I do not know how to be the mother I need to be. I do not know how to be the friend I need to be. I could say the same about every area of my life.
The Lord is a patient, all-knowing teacher. He has given me the Holy Spirit to teach me. He has given me His Word as an instruction manual. He has given me an open line to His throne, and I can call on Him for help at any time. And yet, how often do I act like I already have all the answers? How many times do I stumble through the day, and yet fail to seek His wisdom? How many times do I quench His Spirit? How many times do I reject His correction, and rather than listening and changing, I get irritated or angry?
And when I finally do humble myself, and come to the Lord and say, “Lord, I have no idea how to be what I need to be, or to do what I need to do! Please, will you teach me? I will do whatever you say.”, I can just imagine the joy in my heavenly Father’s heart.
Over and over throughout the book of Proverbs we are reminded to seek after knowledge, and to receive instruction. We are warned that the foolish despise correction and instruction. The student who cannot be taught is the one who is unwilling to learn. What a difference it would make in our lives, our relationships, our homes, our churches, if we would just be willing to let God teach us!
Here is a simple quiz that has helped me to evaluate my own heart. I hope it will help you as well.
Am I Teachable?
- Do I have a desire to learn?
- Do I realize and admit I need instruction?
- Am I actively seeking God’s instruction?
- Am I spending time daily in the Word of God–reading, studying, memorizing, meditating?
- Am I spending time daily in prayer?
- Am I faithful to God’s house?
- Do I seek godly counsel?
- How do I respond to correction? Do I receive it or reject it?
- How do I react to reproof and rebuke?
- Am I acting on the knowledge I already have?
- Am I “willingly ignorant” in any areas of my life?