Bob Tamasy: Teachability: A Much-Underrated Trait

Thursday, August 6, 2020 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

When do we stop learning? I vaguely remember my first days of kindergarten, a little guy walking down cavernous hallways to the classroom where a lot of unfamiliar faces greeted me. ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ I probably wondered, being the shy, quiet sort that I was.

 

But as I recall, “K” was a very pleasant time. The launch of my lifetime of learning. My teacher, Mrs. Ashenbach – I think that’s how her name was spelled – was kind, and I made many friendships. A couple of those connections continue to this day, amazingly enough, via the marvels of social media.

 

These days, of course, kids are wondering whether there will be school at all.

As the progression of the pandemic continues on its puzzling, erratic course, many options are being tossed about, ranging from part-time physical attendance to a resumption of totally computer-based online instruction. I don’t believe there’s no substitute for face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball learning. And I fear the consequences of not gathering in the “schoolhouse” for classes, physically, emotionally and academically, are greater than most people understand.

 

But I digress. Thinking about when we stop learning, the best answer is, hopefully never. If we’re truly teachable, there shouldn’t come a time when we conclude, “Well, I’ve got it. I’m done. Nothing more for me to learn.” Even the smartest person can’t begin to absorb everything there is to be learned, even in his or her own areas of interest. So the greater question becomes, are we willing to remain teachable even as we get older?

 

Before anyone asks the question, ‘What do we mean by ‘teachable’?’ I’ll offer a very simple, down-to-earth definition I heard recently: Teachability is having the humility to admit, “I don’t know everything.”

 

Why does this require humility? In case you haven’t noticed, there seem to be a whole bunch of people who have anointed themselves as know-it-alls, whether it’s about politics, science, social issues, even matters of religion and spirituality. Sadly, many of these folks seem to live by the motto, “My mind’s made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts (or truth).”

 

Teachability is a trait the Scriptures insist upon for leaders. Consider:


“Which of you is a wise and well-instructed man? Let him prove it by a right life with conduct guided by a wisely teachable spirit”
(James 3:13, Weymouth New Testament).

“Therefore, an elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, stable, sensible, respectable, hospitable to strangers, and teachable” (1 Timothy 3:2, International Standard Version).

A servant of the Lord must not argue. Instead, he must be kind to everyone, teachable, willing to suffer wrong” (2 Timothy 2:4, International Standard).

 

Many translations of the Bible state “able to teach” or “apt to teach,” rather than teachable, but I think a teachable person has far greater impact than one who believes he or she has everything figured out.

 

In his writings, the apostle Paul also put a high premium on teachability, trusting those he ministered to would learn and apply what he had taught them, and in turn, teach the truths to others:


“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice…”
(Philippians 4:9).

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

 

Growing up, my father would sometimes speak of people that were “educated beyond their intelligence.” In other words, knowledge is not always the equivalent of wisdom, or even common sense. For instance, Paul wrote about people that were always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).

 

The greatest teacher of all time – Jesus Christ – also communicated the importance of humility in learning. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

 

Earlier I referred to my memories of kindergarten, when the vistas of learning were just opening up. Have you ever noticed the eagerness, the wonder of children when it comes to learning? Jesus loved being around children, in part because of their simplicity, lack of guile, and inquisitiveness.

 

On more than one occasion, He commended their receptivity. Contrasting them with the stubborn, self-satisfied people He would encounter everywhere He went, Jesus declared, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children” (Matthew 11:25).

 

Most children are humble, wide-eyed, sponge-like in learning about everything they encounter. Perhaps we need to shift back into that mode at times, restoring our teachability by becoming like a child and humbly admitting, “I don’t know everything.”

 

* * *


Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.

 

 


Union Gospel Mission To Hold Memorial Service For Dr. William Chad Roberts

Navy Veteran And Member Of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints Heads Up JustServe For Chattanooga

Sermon Topic At Metro Tab Church Is "Think Like A Warrior" Sunday


The Union Gospel Mission will host a memorial service for Dr. William Chad Roberts on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Dr. Roberts was a graduate of the Union Gospel Mission's G.R.A.C.E. Discipleship Program ... (click for more)

Josselyn Nielsen, a U.S. Navy veteran, has been called to head up JustServe for the Chattanooga Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. JustServe helps link organizations and ... (click for more)

Metropolitan Tabernacle Church's co-pastor Reita Ball will preach on "Think Like a Warrior" in the MTC Sanctuary Sunday at 10:30 a.m. The church has cleaning of high touch point areas, hand ... (click for more)



Church

Union Gospel Mission To Hold Memorial Service For Dr. William Chad Roberts

The Union Gospel Mission will host a memorial service for Dr. William Chad Roberts on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Dr. Roberts was a graduate of the Union Gospel Mission's G.R.A.C.E. Discipleship Program and served two times as the program director. Dr. Roberts passed away unexpectedly from complications of health issues. (click for more)

Navy Veteran And Member Of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints Heads Up JustServe For Chattanooga

Josselyn Nielsen, a U.S. Navy veteran, has been called to head up JustServe for the Chattanooga Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. JustServe helps link organizations and volunteers for purposes of doing good. The free app and website at JustServe.org are free for everyone – no matter religious affiliation – and perfect for Tennessee, a state of Volunteers. ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Former County EMT Charged With Vehicular Homicide Is Back Out Of Jail After Pretrial Services "Error"

A former county EMT accused of vehicular homicide was taken into custody in court on Monday based on five alleged violations of his pretrial release. But Justin Whaley was back out of jail on Wednesday after it was agreed that the report of the violations was unfounded. His attorney, Lee Davis, said, " The report filed by Pretrial Services was in error. There was no alcohol ... (click for more)

Sports Wagering Committee Of State Lottery Board Conditionally Approves Licenses For 1st Group Of Sports Betting Operators

The Sports Wagering Committee of the Tennessee Education Lottery Board of Directors on Wednesday conditionally approved licenses for the first group of sports betting operators in Tennessee. The committee also approved its first supplier application and 26 additional vendor applications and announced follow-up meetings Oct. 5 and 16 to take up more applications and review additional ... (click for more)

Opinion

Earl Freudenberg Remembers Bettye Parker

One of the most patriotic individuals I have ever known has passed away. Bettye Parker died Tuesday after a short illness. At Bettye's request there will be no memorial service. Bettye ran Bettye Parker Realty on Highway 58 for as long as I can remember. She handled thousands of property transactions. Her son, Paul Parker, also became involved in real estate and is the real ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Floyd - The Whole Truth

I have been in the news business as a writer my entire life and the main cornerstone of any story is the truth. Later, as an opinion writer, I was enabled to interject exactly that, my “opinion,” which sometimes will differ from that of the readers, yet the strongest point in all arguments is fact. As a vociferous reader, I am becoming more concerned over the bias in the mainstream ... (click for more)