Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Part One B: Learn to Listen

Now we're going to talk about listening and being teachable.
The last time I read Proverbs I noticed how often the word "Listen" is used. But the interesting thing is that the majority of the time it is used in the context of putting into practice. If we listen when our parents tell us that we need to clean up our books, and then we go away do something else, we weren't really listening.
Or if our parents tell us that we have a problem with anger, and instead of agreeing, praying that God would cleanse us of that, and then working on it, if we get angry that they DARE tell us that something is wrong with us... We're obviously not very teachable.
Proverbs 8:32 says “ Now therefore, listen to me, my children, For blessed are those who keep my ways." I'd say that it's pretty obvious that listening and doing go hand in hand.
But I think that we all know that we should be teachable. That when our parents tell us some character flaw that we have that we should listen to them and seek Jesus's help to correct that issue. But it can be really hard, and no matter how teachable we appear, we all go through times when we can still feel that little start of rebellion when the Holy Spirit or our parents show us something.
Being unteachable goes hand-in-hand with being insecure. If you find yourself getting overly upset about your parents talking to you about something you need to change, it might help if you prayed that God would give you security in who you are through Jesus.
I prayed for years that God would give me a teachable spirit, and do you know how He responded? By helping my parents to notice what I needed to work on!
"Practice makes perfect" is especially true for being teachable. If you are able to practice it on a day to day basis it will become easier and easier over time.

Now, how is being teachable going to help us to be good wives someday?
If we can learn not to be offended when our parents notice that we're not perfect or even when they prefer that we do something in a different way, than it will give us a head start on not being offended when our husband wants us to do something in a different way or points out something that we need to work on.
I have to confess that what bugs me the most is when someone tells me that I should do something a different way. Whether it's how I hold a pencil or how I sweep the kitchen, I can feel the annoyance pop up as soon as someone says that I'm doing it the wrong way or it would be better if I did it a different way.
Of course, that doesn't always bother me, but that is what annoys me the most often.
(Yeah, that pencil thing... it's amazing the silly little things that bother us, isn't it?!)

Obviously you're not going to marry someone that hates the way you do everything, so hopefully you won't have to seriously worry about changing your little odd habits, (like how you hold a pencil) but it's good to practice not getting annoyed or offended if someone does tease you about how you do something.
And if your Mom tells you that you need to hold the paintbrush differently because the walls are going to be all bumpy if you don't, you need to learn to change your ways without getting offended.

Ok, enough of all that... here are a few practical ideas of how you can practice being teachable.

1. Learn to talk to yourself silently... if you just learn to tell yourself to relax (And then do it), it will go a long way towards preventing your rebellious feelings.

2. Pray that God would give you a teachable heart. You're going to need it sooner or later (probably sooner).

3. Don't pick on others about little things that they do that annoy you, and if you see a character issue pray that God would show it too them, don't point it out yourself (unless someone asks you, or you are in a friendship where you have already agreed that you would help each other like that). Surprisingly, it will help you to be teachable if you learn not to be critical of others.

4. Ask your parents if there are any areas in your life that you particularly need to work on. This is great practice for being teachable.

5. If you can discipline yourself to read a little bit of the Bible everyday and to pray for a few minutes, it will make a huge difference in EVERY area of your life.

6. Interpret people in the best light possible. If someone has told you of a problem you have, assume that they are doing this to help you and only because they care about you. This is probably one of the hardest things because (especially with a peer or someone younger than you) it's easy to feel like they're just picking on you or that they don't like you. If it is a peer you are not under any obligation to change the way you hold that pencil, but you MUST be kind about it and forgive them if you need to.

7. Often when it is someone other than our parents that is pointing out things that they think we need to change we will have to forgive them whether there is or is not any truth in what they say. If you have been hurt in that way, don't pretend that it is ok, or say "Oh I'm just being stupid". If you pray and acknowledge that it was hurtful, and then forgive them it will help you learn to be teachable, and it might just save your friendship.

I hope that was clear, I have a cold and feel all muddled! If you have any practical ideas of how to learn to be teachable I'd love to hear them! :-)


HannahBeth said...

Excellent post, Joy! This is something I've realized that I really need to work on!! :( Thank you for all the helpful hints and advice!!

Growing In Grace Magazine said...

Miss Joy, I commented on your commented on Miss Amanda's article at GGM, "The Users"