What Proverbs Teaches about Being Teachable

by Kevin Halloran May 28, 2018

If there is any quality that helps in every area of life, it is being teachable.

Teachable people don’t have to be the smartest to succeed—they seek to learn and grow in any and every situation. Being teachable is a foundational quality for everybody: workers, students, husbands and wives, and especially those in leadership roles. If you’re wondering how to grow in teachability, perhaps there’s no better place to turn than the Bible’s wisdom book.

4 Lessons on Being Teachable from Proverbs

1. Be humble.

“Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”  Proverbs 3:7-8

“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs 26:12

Humility is the starting point for teachability because teachable souls know their need for learning. Prideful people think they know more than everyone else and don’t need to learn more. Teachable people know there is always something more to learn from everybody.

The humble person…

  • Is aware of his or her weaknesses.
  • Is conscious of blind spots.
  • Is slow to speak and quick to listen (James 1:19).
  • Owns up to his or her failures.
  • Considers others more highly than him or herself (Philippians 2:3).
  • Asks for feedback even when it is not offered.

According to Proverbs 3:7-8, humility coupled with a fear of the Lord results in healing and refreshment—something we all desire in increasing measure. Christian, strive for humility in all of life, for “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).

2. Actively seek wisdom and instruction as if your life depended on it.

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.
Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.” Proverbs 4:7-9, 13 (emphasis added)

Maybe you know someone (or are someone) who desperately seeks counsel while in crisis-mode but fails to pursue wisdom when things are going well. The Bible calls that person a fool (Proverbs 1:7). Don’t be that person.

Wisdom doesn’t come by accident. We are to pursue it with all our hearts in order to grow in every way possible. This means taking time to reflect on your life and relationships through the lens of Scripture, reading books, listening to wise teachers, and saying ‘no’ to things that hinder your pursuit of wisdom.

Life is complicated and the enemy is deceiving; without a disciplined pursuit of wisdom and instruction, we risk falling captive to lies and short-cut solutions to our problems. The diligent pursuit of wisdom will train us to act wisely and prepare us for difficulties in life.

Those who pursue wisdom…

  • Look intentionally for mentors, books, courses, and podcasts to grow.
  • Memorize Scripture (and meditate on it) to store up wisdom for the future.
  • Ask questions to others for added clarity and understanding instead of jumping to share an opinion on a matter.
  • Ask others for help when needed.
  • Grow in critical thinking and realize taking the convenient answer can be costly.
  • Organize notes from what they have learned for future reference.

“Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.” Proverbs 4:13

3. Learn from the right teachers.

Fools breed folly and the wise impart wisdom. Discern who does and doesn’t teach wisdom in their words and actions. There are many smooth-talking fools out there as well as soft-spoken wise people.

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20

“One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Proverbs 12:26

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14

Scripture is always a trusted teacher to impart supernatural wisdom (2 Timothy 3:15; Psalm 19:7), and the men and women we follow in spiritual matters need to be shaped by God’s Word. Pray for God to lead you to wise people to learn from and He will lead you to wise teachers. (Also see Proverbs 4:20–23, 11:14, 12:15, 12:26, 13:20, 16:22, 24:6, 25:12.)

4. Receive correction as a blessing.

“The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.” Proverbs 15:31

“A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” Proverbs 17:10

One who ignores instruction “despises himself” (Proverbs 15:32) and “is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1). (Tell us how you really feel, Solomon!) My natural reaction to correction is often to get defensive, but it shouldn’t be. We should welcome correction and seek to grow from it. This goes for positive rebuke and unruly criticism; receiving either is a chance for us to examine ourselves and grow. I tell myself that if I receive an unfair criticism that is 98% wrong, my duty is to own up to my 2% by repenting (when necessary) and seeking to grow.

God disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:7-11) and often uses others as instruments to correct His children so they grow to maturity in Christ. His Fatherly correction is reserved for His children—rejoice at correction as evidence of your adoption. (Also see Proverbs 9:8-9; 13:1, 15:5, 10, 12, 21, 31, 17:10, 19:27.)

A prayer to be teachable

Lord, I praise you for being the author of all truth and thank you for the ability to learn. Please help me humbly pursue wisdom and learning for your glory and to serve others. Lead me by your Spirit to pursue growth and avoid things that hinder it. Help me receive correction and grow wise by learning from it. Weed out foolish and selfish tendencies in my heart and keep my eyes on the Great Teacher, Jesus.

AMEN.