Having a teachable spirit is at the heart of progress in the Christian life. Only the stubbornness of our pride keeps us from becoming all that God desires for us to be in Christ. The ones who make the most progress in grace are those who are never satisfied with themselves, never willing to accept that they are “the way they are and that will never change.” Therefore, it is imperative to view ourselves as lifelong students—students in the school of walking with the Lord who will not graduate until we see our Savior in glory. So, how do we remain a teachable student? What does it look like? Paul Tripp suggests five characteristics.
A healthy cynicism toward your own wisdom. “Sin reduces all of us to fools, but it does something else that is even more insidious: it makes us believe that we are wise. Independent wisdom was both the seductive temptation and the delusional desire behind the fall.”
A humble sense of need. “We all get lulled to sleep by feelings of arrival, by feeling satisfied with our character, our knowledge, and our behavior. We have little desire for further growth….Because we know more today than we did yesterday, we quit working to know more tomorrow.”
A willing and open heart. “Willingness and openness are the essential characteristics of any good student. Why, you may ask? Because learning not only shows me what I didn’t know, but it points out the places where what I thought I knew was, in fact, wrong.”
Discernment, focus, and determination. “Discernment means that you have to make sure you are submitting yourself to qualified teachers (read Colossians 2:8). Once you are sitting at the feet of those who represent the Teacher of teachers, then continued learning takes focus.”
Commitment to act on what you are learning. “Any seasoned teacher will tell you that the real learning takes place after the students leave the classroom and practice what they have been taught. The God who is your teacher will orchestrate events, situations, and relationships for the purpose of causing you to live what you have been learning. Life is his classroom, and in every new location on each new day, provides a rich and God-given environment to understand more deeply and to live more wisely.”
As a follow-up application project, take time to read through Psalm 119 and note in your journal how many times the psalmist reveals his longing to learn. May the Lord grant to us a teachable spirit so that we will all be committed to being lifelong students in his school of spiritual growth!
[Order your copy of Tripp’s book A Shelter in the Time of Storm.]