CLANK! CLANK! CLANK!
The harsh sound reverberated throughout the gymnasium. I had been playing basketball since I received my Fisher Price set on my second birthday and never had I struggled with “my game” like this! I was confused and frustrated as I meticulously recreated the motions I had been taught, and the only result was the mocking sound of my error.
Enter, Dad: an experienced basketball coach with a vast wealth of knowledge concerning the game to which he had devoted his life. He saw my frustration and, like any dad would, desired to help. He instantly recognized the source of my error. I don't know if it was my elbow, my finger-tips, or my follow-through. I don't remember because all I recall is the humiliation I felt to have my error pointed out so quickly and easily. I refused to accept his help and would continue to clank free-throws until I was desperate enough to receive his teaching.
The problem was that I didn't see my dad's heart; I only felt the hurt. For even longer than I have played the game of basketball, I have struggled (big time) with being corrected. In fact. there is a famous story in my house about the wrath my mother felt after pointing out a harsh makeup line on my face! That's all I will say about that! The sin of pride has its hold on me, maybe not in the dictionary definition of the word as I would not say that I have a superior attitude to any one else (although at times I ashamedly find this to be true). Rather, I am continually seeing my pride in the form of resistance to correction. Until recently, I had rarely, if ever been able to see criticism as constructive efforts to better and build me; I have, instead, viewed correction as destructive insults to taunt me and tear me down.
When we began working alongside our missionary friends of the Vision Baptist team, we had, unknowingly on my part, also entered into discipleship relationships to train us and prepare us for a life of ministry. I definitely did not have any idea how much I had to learn, nor did I realize the way it was all going to be learned: through correction. At first, I thought, “these people are MEAN! Why are they always telling me what to do?” I had a very nasty attitude about it, and I, honestly, cringed at the thought of spending time with these ladies who were intentionally investing in me to teach and to train me. Because of my poor attitude, I felt like I was their project and not their friend.
As I struggled (and continue to struggle) with this concept, I turned to the Bible for instruction. After all, I have always respected the authority of the Scripture and had long been submitted to the correction of the Holy Spirit. To me, that had always made sense, but I hadn't ever considered that He might speak to me through someone who cares for my spiritual well-being. So what did this ultimate authority have to say about those in my life that teach and train me? I was surprised to find the answer to this question: A LOT! I will share just a few of those that really hit me right between the eyes!
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1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
Proverbs 13:18 Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.
Proverbs 12:1 Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish. (This word is often interpreted as “stupid” or “a fool”)
The mistake I had been making for the past twenty years became blatantly obvious after seeking Scripture and examining my heart. It became clear to me that I would be much better off humbling myself and receiving instruction than putting on a know-it-all attitude and carrying on in ways that were not conducive to growth in my life. I knew that receiving correction and instruction would shoot a hole in my pride and damage any facade I had staged to represent myself. I also knew that it was going to HURT, but I determined within myself to acquire a teachable spirit and to appreciate and encourage those who invest in me and offer instruction to me. I must welcome instruction as I consider the loving hearts of those who offer it.
In order to do this, I absolutely have to be CLOTHED or covered with humility. I must approach every day with the attitude: “What can I learn today, and who can I learn it from?” I have to ask the hard questions and, more importantly, be willing to subject myself to being asked the hard questions!
Finally, I must apply the things that I am taught from fellow lovers and followers of the Word.
James 1:23-25 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
I wouldn't look in the mirror at my bed-head and baggy eyes and not correct these flaws before heading out for the day, and I shouldn't recognize the errors pointed out by the Holy Spirit through faithful friends and not correct the sin and poor decision-making in my life.
I am thankful for the “coaches” who help me with my “clanks”- for those who try to train and teach me despite my often stubborn attitude. As I work to improve my teachable spirit, I pray that these faithful friends would not give up on me! I have so much to learn, and if you're anything like me, YOU DO TOO!