There is one particular quality that overrides all of our other faults combined. If we just cultivate this one quality in our lives, all our other faults will take care of themselves. Really? Instead of focusing on improving my weaknesses, I can learn this one thing instead, and that’ll take care of everything else? Yep. That’s exactly what I’m saying.
The reverse is also true, though. If we don’t get this one thing down, none of our other virtues matter. All of our other positive qualities will eventually flame-out if we don’t understand and figure out this one thing.
So what is it? Ok. Here it is.
God is constantly dorking with our environment. Adjusting things. He intentionally brings seemingly negative circumstances and people into our lives to work stuff out of us. Although I’m personally not fond of this process — it hurts — I must honestly say the seasons of pain in my life have been the seasons of greatest growth. Darn it.
The point is, God is taking us to school. He’s put us here to learn to love each other. Every choice we make is either a choice to love or a choice to fear. Now don’t worry, I’m not getting all drippy and gushy. Sometimes love means confronting someone with the truth they don’t want to hear but need to. And out of his great love for us, God does this for us all the time. In Christian-speak it’s called sanctification. It’s a pain in the neck, but it’s good.
He uses those people who push our buttons and those circumstances we suffer through to tell us what we don’t want to hear but need to. And if we’re teachable and learn the lesson, God deals with all of our faults and shortcomings, one by one.
If we choose to be teachable, God tells us the truth, often through our reactions to difficult people. The process works our stuff out of us. If we choose to not be teachable, we get stuck. We force God to bring harsher people and harsher circumstances to get our attention and learn the lesson. And around the track we go again.
So how do we cultivate being teachable? Here are 3 keys.
1) Talk less, listen more.
We’ve all heard the saying that God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth because we’re supposed to listen twice as much as we talk. So often we get it the other way around. Start paying attention to how much, percentage-wise, you listen vs talk. In most of your conversations, do you talk more or listen more?
Even when we aren’t talking, we often aren’t really listening. We’re waiting to talk. We’re politely waiting for the other person to finish their unimportant thought so we can say something truly important. Instead of just blowing-off and reacting to what was just said, we have an opportunity to honor God and search for what he’s saying to us through that other person. He so often speaks through unrighteous vessels.
It doesn’t mean the other person is right or we have to agree with them. Often what God’s doing is showing us our own heart through our internal reaction to the other person. It’s got nothing to do with whether the other person is right or wrong. That’s between them and God.
If we really listen, both to the other person and to the Holy Spirit, we can often deescalate a volatile situation by responding to the other person with honor instead of reacting out of wounded pride.
That guy! He just pushes my buttons! Teachable people realize our “buttons” are sin in our own heart. God, out of his great love for us, is using that unrighteous person to highlight it. He’s raising a red flag in our consciousness about what he wants to deal with.
2) Pay attention to feedback from more than 1 person.
I grew up with the saying, “When the rest of the world’s wrong and you’re right, it’s probably the other way around.” When we hear things from more than one person, we need to pay attention.
Notice patterns. Never settle for, “That’s just the way I am.” Some people blow-off correction they’ve heard multiple times with this ungodly phrase. But there’s no greater proclamation that someone’s unteachable than those 6 words.
3) Find the kernel of truth in the ugly package.
Truth we get from God through other people is packaged in the other person’s stuff. Sometimes we need to wade through the offense and the other person’s negativity to get at what God’s trying to say to us. Sometimes what’s at the root is a lie from the enemy that we need to blow of. But sometimes there’s a nugget of truth down there that God wants us to mine for.
Teachable people scrape off the coal and find the gold. Or to put it another way, chew the meat, spit out the bones.
So how about you?
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