I was once asked by a college student “what are some of the most important traits for a leader to have?” I responded by saying, “You have answered your own question by asking such a question.” By asking the question this college student was asking she was making herself teachable. This foundational answer to this college student’s question is extremely valuable for people in general not just leaders.
I was fortunate enough to have a passion to learn at a young age. I love to learn new things and the important aspect that accompanies my passion to learn is that I have a teachable attitude. I am always reading something with the goal of learning new things. I approach conversations with people with the frame of mind of “what can this person teach me?” Does this mean I never learn things that hard way? Do not get me wrong I do not always like the things I am taught; however, in the end I come back to the fact it makes me a stronger person, a healthier Christ follower, and a better leader.
Having a teachable frame of mind is so important to leadership and life you can tell whether a person will be successful in his or her career and how healthy of a relationship he or she has with God all based on if a person is teachable or not.
One time I had a young man on staff with me who was only a few years younger than me. I honesty believe this young man has the potential to be a great leader. One day in a meeting he communicated to me that he did not believe there was anything I could teach him because I had only a few more years experience than he did. Needless to say he did not stick around much longer. I am not saying it was a requirement that this man learn from me. The point I am trying to make is that he was not teachable. When we are not teachable we think we have all the answers, we communicate to others that we do need them, and we close ourselves off to growing as a person. We should not be so unteachable that God has to use a donkey to teach us a lesson. If you do not understand what I mean by this read Numbers 22:21-41.
The most successful leaders and the healthiest Christ followers I know are people who have a teachable attitude. They are always looking to learn new things and they are open to learning from anyone. Some of the most powerful things I have learned came from my kids at very young ages. I do not care how old or young a person is, if they have a Ph.D or an elementary education, do the same work I do, or even have the same beliefs I do I believe they can all teach me something.
If we are not teachable we will never learn from our mistakes, learn from other’s experiences, be willing to accept discipline, grow in our faith, or learn from what God is doing in our life. Do you ever think those young people do not know what they are talking about? Those young people have not lived long enough to teach me anything? Does your pastor have to be an expert communicator for you to learn something from them? Will you only listen to people who have a certain title, abbreviation after their name, or have a certain amount of experience?
Are you teachable? If you answer no to this question you will never be as successful as God created you to be, you will never influence the number of people God created you to influence, you will not have the deep relationship with God that He desires to have with you. Is that what you really want?