The Quality of Being Teachable

In growing churches, one leadership quality that appears time and time again is teachability. Teachability is the willingness of the leader to continue to grow; to seek help and to ask questions in order to develop. Teachable leaders understand that it’s ok to not know everything and they actively seek out advice, council and guidance at every stage of their ministry. As teachable leaders get older, they become even more humble as they realize that what got them here, won’t get them to the next level. They are constantly learning from other ministries and listening to voices that are different then theirs.

This is a stark contrast to unteachable leaders. Now, they don’t call themselves unteachable, but you can tell. When you look at their library, you don’t see books that help them lead or invite new ministry ideas. When you talk to them about other ministry ideas, they scoff and say, “that won’t work here”. Unteachable leaders repeatedly say to the body, “I don’t need you” as they stay in their bubble convinced that any book, conference, podcast or coached doesn’t understand their context and therefore would be useless to them. As these leaders get older, they get stuck in their ways and frustrate those around them who want to offer suggestions and advice on how to make it better. Unteachable leaders are often left alone which is exactly what they prefer.

Here are a few ways that we can remain teachable …

Listen to Podcast and Read Books that challenge your leadership ideas: There are amazing leaders who give their ideas away on podcast and books. These ideas often won’t transfer exactly into your context but they will get you thinking. You can read these books with your team or discuss your learning with your board and have discussions based on these resources that will challenge your thinking and maybe spark some new contextually appropriate ideas.

Get a Coach: Coaching helps you get better. It’s not an admission of failure. It’s the way forward to improve on the talents you already have. EVERYONE has been coached in their life time …. Why wouldn’t you want to be coached and have the opportunity to grow? It requires humility but even a few “pointers” from a coach can change the game for the better.

Visit Other Churches and Ministries: Take a few Sundays a year and do a field trip to a church or ministry that is not like yours. Check out their Kids Ministry. Attend their worship practice. Sit in on a staff meeting. Challenge your notion of what ministry looks like by seeing other ministries in other contexts. When you can, ask lots of questions and take notes.

Call Another Pastor: I ask pastors, “Are there any pastors that call you or that you call regularly for prayer and advice?” The usual response to that question is silence. This makes no sense to me. We have over 400 credential holders in this district. There are pastors who would love to share their stories with you, offer you some suggestions and even pray for you. No one is judging you. We are all paying on the same team with a goal to reach the 4.1 million souls in our region. Wouldn’t it be great if we acted like an orchestra and not like solo artists? We are better together.

Let me remind us all the “the hand can’t say to the foot, ‘I don’t need you’” (! Corinthians 12:15-26) and this applies not only within the church but to the church across town, the pastor in the next town, the ministry across the country and the denominations around the world. We are ALL one body. We need to be teachable.

How do you grow as a leader? Let us know in the comments.