Whether we are talking about the university environment or a business situation or the Kingdom of God, the student is required by the teaching process to be willing to lay down his way of doing things or his thoughts or feelings about a particular subject. This process allows the teacher to impart information and experience that the student may not otherwise be able to receiver. Obviously, to deny oneself can be a humbling experience. Our Lord has shown us that, as we humble ourselves before God or His appointed authority, we are in a better position to hear and learn the Word of God through the man that He has given to us. Thus we can see that self-denial has the advantage of purging away preset thoughts and ideas, in order to make us more receptive. Then we can hear and open ourself to another. “The UN-descipled mind cannot hear the Word of God!” Discipline requires that we humble ourselves.
The ability to listen and to be taught is inherently a part of the discipling process. One who is teachable is a person who has already laid down self or denied self and is willing to submit to hear hat another has to say. He is willing to have his spirit as well as his ego touched by the one who does the teaching. Teachableness connotes an attitude, an attitude that says, “I do not know it all, and I am open for you to speak into my life, that I might receive your insight and experience.”
If “teachableness” requires an attitude, then obedience requires an action. God has said over and over, “If you will obey My commandments I will be your God.” When Samuel spoke to King Saul, he asked him (paraphrased), “Do you really think the Lord cares about the sacrifices you give Him, as compared to OBEYING what He has told you to do? Listen! To OBEY is better than sacrifice, and to listen to Him and hear Him is better than anything else you can do!” Obedience requires that we not only listen to what someone says, but then after having heard, we begin to act and DO those things that have been spoken into our lives. The process of obedience is not a one-time act; rather it is a continuous flow of actions and activities that come forth from an attitude of teachableness. It is not our responsibility to say to the one doing the teaching, “Now, I have been obedient; therefore I should be doing ‘my own thing’.” Rather, we should continue to serve and be obedient until such time the next step occurs. And the next step is. . .
The student does not recognize when he has learned all there is to learn. Look at school, or business, or any other activity, and you will see that recognition comes from the one doing to teaching rather than the one being taught. Recognition may not come at a given point in time; rather it is a process by which the teacher realizes that the student has been able, not only to hear what he says, but has been obedient to the life-pattern and the impartation that the teacher has sought to bring about. It is at this point that recognition becomes a reality in the life of the one being taught. For the teacher sees that the student now, not only hears what is being said, but he can in fact teach others the same things he is being taught. Recognition is likened to the parable where the Master finally says to the servant, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have heard what I have said, and you have done what I have asked. Now I would like to send you forth, because I recognize you as a man who can do that which is required.”
From Jay Fesperman’s “Letters of Exhortation”, Number 6, December 1980.