I am always fascinated when I meet people who are truly unteachable. I have come to the conclusion that they suffer from arrogance. If I am unwilling or unable to receive constructive feedback I am saying "I am right" rather than "tell me more." 

In talking to a senior pastor recently who was involved in significant conflict in his church centered around how he led, I asked him if he would do anything differently. He said "no!" I was amazed. I have never been in conflict where I would not do something different. What he said was that he stood for truth which by implication meant that everyone who saw issues in his leadership obviously did not. Where do you go from there. My guess is that he will take his same issues to his next leadership role because he is unwilling to admit there was anything he did wrong. Or even invite a conversation around it. When we don't learn from our tough times we take our issues to the next place of ministry.

Why are people sometimes unteachable? They are hanging on to pride and in their pride they become arrogant thinking they are always right. It is a dangerous place to be and the longer we live there the stronger our defenses become. Sometimes it takes a truly huge breaking before one becomes teachable. 

In the Christian world, arrogance can take on a spiritual quality. "Not only am I right but I have God on my side." In talking to the individual above I questioned some of his actions from a wisdom and discernment perspective. His answer, rather than at least having a conversation was "I am glad I will be judged by God and not by you." Not only was he not willing to at least explore my proposition but he implied that God would vindicate him. How do you dialogue over that?

One thing I loved about my dad was that while had very strong opinions he was also someone who always wanted to get better, always wanted to learn and grow. All of his degrees did not make him arrogant and unteachable.  I understand strong opinions, I have a few not having fallen far from the tree. But I want to be like him in this regard. It is why I try to live the best I can by a "nothing to prove and nothing to lose attitude." 

A humble individual is a teachable individual. They desire and appreciate constructive words that are meant for our good. A true sign of our humility is our teachable and a sign of our pride is the opposite. As we gain experience and success we need to remember that humility is teachability no matter how successful we are. 

TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com.

"Creating cultures of organizational excellence."

  • Aug 17, 2015
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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