Some of the most fascinating people are individuals who – long after graduation from degree programs – remain curious thinkers and eager learners. Others may never have pursued formal education, yet they exhibit a deep desire to learn about the world around them. People who have a thirst to learn somehow seem youthful whatever their actual age.
Sometimes there is a temptation to value the role of teachers above the worth of being willing learners. Yet we are all called to be teachable. Jesus said we must become childlike – like little kids – to enter the kingdom of heaven. When we are teachable, we come with simple, trusting hearts, ready to gain insight from another.
Yet beyond the value of having a teachable spirit is the honor we give other people when we demonstrate that we recognize they have something to teach us. Recently a colleague was speaking to a gentleman who is a youth pastor but who also provides powerful creative experiences in worship services. This man is someone who, because of his race, has not always encountered respect from other people. My colleague simply told him that he had a lot to teach, and that other people, including herself, had a lot to learn from him. His reaction was powerful; he was deeply moved.
When we encounter people who have been disrespected, when we show ourselves quietly willing to learn from them, we honor their gifts, abilities, and calling, and we also humble ourselves by showing that we are glad to be led by them into deeper knowledge of the kingdom of God. You and I communicate by our posture that someone is a worthy leader from whom we happily gain wisdom.
Our global family of faith is stronger and more flexible when we are willing to sit at each others’ feet. More importantly, it makes the heart of God smile.