“I can’t work with her! She’s just not teachable!”
These have been my thoughts recently about a coworker, someone even newer than I am. I try to give her little pointers–the ways everyone else does with me–but she won’t listen. “It’s fine! I’ve got it!” and “I can do it myself!” are her constant responses. She messes up quite often, but then I don’t feel able to help correct her so it won’t happen again.
In one sense, I understand where she’s coming from: I myself was just training a month ago, and it’s a lot to take in! And it’s difficult feeling like the only things people say are corrections and criticisms. No one wants to feel humiliated like that. After all, who likes being wrong?
But on the other hand, being teachable is vital, and to so many areas of life. Throughout our lives people may point out something here or there we could do better–a way we’re not listening, something we did to hurt their feelings–and we must be able to listen and learn.
My first inclination is never to listen. In fact, it’s usually the opposite: I want to speak–and LOUDLY at that–as I defend myself against whatever correction was made. “You only looked the one time I messed up; I usually do it right!” “I can handle it! I don’t need your help!” But usually reacting this way only compounds the problem. I don’t feel any better for sharing my side, and now the other person is frustrated too.
With the way some people “teach,” the last thing I want to do is learn! But humility has to be a part of the learning process, and humility involves knowing what I don’t know. I know I don’t know how to do everything at my job, and no one expects me to a little over a month in. But I also know that I don’t always know how to be the friend people need, so I’m willing to be taught. There are lots of things I know I don’t know, but when someone calls me out, “Hey, you’re not doing this right!” my response can be, “I know I’m not cause I don’t know how to do it. Can you teach me?” Then, no one is hurt, and I get the opportunity to learn something new!
It’s Not Always That Simple…
Unfortunately, sometimes life is more complicated than this. We make intricate plans, thinking we know what we’re doing, and it just doesn’t work out as such. Maybe God has a different plan for us; maybe we just made a mistake. Either way the question lingers: How can I be teachable in this moment? What can I learn and how can I grow through this circumstance?
The answer will rarely be obvious. In fact, it will often be painful even to ask the question. “Why?” and “How can you do this to me?” are much easier questions to ask. We get frustrated by the ways God works, or wonder if he is working at all.
And yet I must cling to being the Beloved in this time. I must cling to hope even when I can’t find hope to cling to. And through every step of the journey I must be willing to be teachable: to ask the hard questions of if I messed up and how I could do things differently next time. Because no experience is truly a waste if we grow from it, taking some new lesson or insight with us.
Let’s Like Being Wrong!
Let’s work together to be teachable. Let’s strive for it! And when we’re wrong (because it’s inevitably going to happen), let’s celebrate together because God is setting before us the opportunity to be teachable. St. Francis made a point to boast about every weakness he discovered, taking literally Paul’s plan to “boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). May we too boast loudly when we uncover our weakness, and then discover that these are places where God’s strength can shine through all the more brightly.
What are your weaknesses today? Identify just one or two (too many might be overwhelming!), and then see how they could potentially be places for God’s strength to shine through. For example, “I can get easily disappointed, but that teaches me to rely on God and not on other people.” There are so many possibilities for how this can look; the most important thing is that we’re bringing our weaknesses to God, and allowing him to meet us in these broken places and then transform them for us.
Until Next Time, Let’s Keep on Hoping…