To My Generation: Be Teachable
To my generation: being a teacher does not make you exempt from learning & being taught by your peers/contemporaries.
Sometimes my generation assumes that when we begin to teach or gain a platform, those who are our peers/contemporaries are no longer qualified to correct or teach us. We assume that only those who are more 'seasoned' or have had platforms established for decades are the ones qualified to correct or teach us. I'm not going to an extreme and say we shouldn't receive correction and teaching from seasoned saints who are older than us (cf. 1 Peter 5:5a) rather, my generation needs balance when it comes to who we are willing to receive correction and teaching from. We'll find this balance when we have teachable hearts that can receive correction and teaching from those who are older than us, our peers, and even those who are younger than us.
Proverbs 13:18 reminds us that disgrace will come upon the person who ignores instruction yet, the one who heeds reproof will be honored. Within the context of Proverbs 13:12-19, there is no age limit placed on the one who is providing the teaching, wisdom, and instruction. When my generation is selective in receiving teaching from those within our own generation or younger, we're in danger of suffering through the shame that comes from the Lord's discipline on His children who are loosing their fight with pride (cf. Hebrews 12:7-11).
I've taken notice that my generation is not easily convinced of our error when a peer is the one confronting us yet, we eagerly receive both correction and teaching from those who are older and more well-known than our peers. Are we refusing to hear from our peers because in our pride we feel they don't have the right to correct us? Is it because we assume they are theologically weaker than us and lack skills when it comes to biblical interpretation? Or is it because in our search for affirmation from older men, due to our lack of healthy relationships with our own biological fathers, we'll result to any form behavior modification if it keeps us in good standing with those we're wanting fatherly approval from?
Since I can't speak for every individual's heart motives, I'll be happy to volunteer my own failures as evidence that I too have fallen victim to pride when it comes to not receiving correction from my peers.
Prior to moving to Atlanta, I was in the process of praying through a decision to help a friend plant a church. While was I praying a few brothers called to check in on me regarding my upcoming transition. While speaking with them separately, I began to share my heart regarding my friend's church. After hearing my heart they both provided me with a timely word of caution and correction. They affirmed my sincere heart to serve my brother before warning me of the hazard that my immediate pastoral service in a new city could spread my family thin and hurt my marriage. In addition, they challenged me to take at minimum a six month sabbatical from pastoral ministry to rest while shepherding my family. To be honest, I didn't agree with them on the front end and kept asking God for wisdom from other saints. As time went on, the Lord opened my heart to their counsel and today, I'm glad He put my heart in a position to finally adhere to their wisdom.
I'm amazed at how many times God has not only used those who are my age to teach and correct but at all the times He's also used saints who are younger than me to provide with a timely word of correction. I've been brought to tears when God used even my precious daughters to hold me accountability for my fleshly attitude in a moment of weakness.
On one such occasion I was preparing a sermon and became irritated with my daughter Bella who seemed to find it funny to keep interrupting me every other minute. In the midst of my frustration I snapped at Bella and told her to "leave me alone". Bella, turning away from me slowly began to walk up the stairs and out of my office. Right before she crossed into the upstairs living room she turned around and told me "todo lo puedo en Christo que me fortalece" - translated, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength". Now, during this time, my wife and I were teaching Bella how to quote passages of Scripture in Spanish, and this particular verse was the one we told her to quote when she was frustrated and wanted to sin.
For her to quote this specific passage in that moment broke my heart for two reasons. First, because she was gently reminding me to practice what I preached to her. Secondly, it showed me that she loved me so much that she didn't want to sin against me in her moment of hurt! Needless to say, I repented and asked both the Lord and Bella to forgive me for my error.
If my generation is going to be one that desires to make spiritual maturity normative, we must be willing to remain teachable, especially if we are teachers. We must understand that the Lord can and will use His saints to provide us with timely counsel and correction. We must remember the age of the saints God uses shouldn't matter if their correction and teaching is grounded in God's Word. As God continues to give us His grace to teach others His word, I pray we will all ask Him to keep our hearts teachable.