Ihave a pet peeve. One that drives me absolutely senseless when it happens. It is worse than fingernails on a chalk board, or the squeaky rub of Styrofoam.
Wet socks. Yup, I just said that. I don't know what forgotten childhood trauma I endured to cause such a strong reaction, but I will go bare foot in the rain before I walk around with three drops of water on my socks.
I am sure you have pet peeves as well. In fact, I bet I know what one of them is without having met you yet. It is a universal irk that manifests as a character flaws in people and it is, at least for me, single-handedly the most frustrating element to human flaw. We detest The Unteachable.
The world's greatest thinkers in everything from science to the arts have at least one very necessary common trait in order to maintain prominence in their given field.
They realize they don't know everything.
Now I am fully confident that no sane and balanced human being would ever claim they know everything there is to know. I have never met anyone who would make that confession, but I do know a number that act like it.
Therein lays the categorical difference. You don't have to actually be a know-it-all in order to act like one.
I am not qualified to provide a definitive cure for the unteachable, but I would like to suggest some telltale markers to help assess if someone is.
1. The Unteachable has a proven record of being hard to talk to. When an issue presents itself, it takes such great effort to bring it up that the offense is often dismissed as "not worth it." Frustration builds and you feel powerless to work through it so you just take it on the chin again.
2. The Unteachable struggle to own their part. When you finally force yourself to deal with the issue, they deflect responsibility to every other contributor except themselves. Or, when pressed with their obvious mistake, they elevate something else as bigger than what is at hand, such as the wrong way you brought it up, or that thing you always do, or even remind you of a past mistake you made that was much bigger.
3. The Unteachable maintains the dominant position at all times. Perhaps the most telling trait of those who are unteachable is the seeming inability to be vulnerable regardless of how extreme the situation is. In order to learn, we must submit to each other.
This is not an act of weakness but one of great strength. It also doesn't mean you are wrong. It just means you are willing to be wrong in order to grow.
As in all Soul Matters, I have framed this issue so that you can identify this trait in other people, but the real invitation is for you to look inside yourself and assess if these behaviours are your reality. So join with me and take a look inside. Now look again. If you are unteachable, you are the only one who will be able to let yourself know.
Dan Cousins is the lead pastor of Genesis Christian Centre, a growing young church in Nanaimo, and serves as chaplain for the Nanaimo Clippers. He can be reached at email@example.com
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