Bitterness: The Root of Unteachablility
“The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” Proverbs 12:15
A disciple, by definition is one who learns. I have personally been on a quest to become a more teachable learner since 1986, when I made the decision to know and serve the Lord Jesus. Even through my seemingly endless efforts, I felt like I was on an uphill climb as I improve in becoming more teachable. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I learned why it was that I felt like I was swimming up a waterfall when it comes to becoming a learner.
It was then that I was able to discover the one reason for all the difficulty I have had with listening to correction, advice, rebukes, and even mild suggestions: BITTERNESS. Specifically, bitterness with past authorities and with myself.
Let me share my story…
In the past, I made the mistake of expecting that my authorities should be faultless. This unreasonable expectation was an emotionally painful mistake. I dealt with this emotional wound by default–with bitterness. This emotional wound/bitterness combination, typically always precedes a vow to prevent such pain again. “I will NEVER listen or trust __________ (people group) again!” “I will not learn from them since the last authority wronged-offended me!” is the silent commitment within. Self-protection rules the day with this mindset.
With self-protection comes an unteachable heart. It’s interesting that regardless of how determined someone is in their minds to learn, a broken and bitter heart will always prevail 100% of the time.
The rejection I felt from previous authorities was played out in my mind over and over again. This replaying that happened in my mind was the root of the second source of bitterness, towards myself.
Research studies show that we talk to ourselves 50,000 times a day, and 80% of the time it’s negative. A majority of the time, we have learned to have negative self-talk from our parents. So, when someone decides to correct us at around 2:00 PM, it becomes the straw that broke the camels back, since we have already thought about 25,000 negative thoughts towards ourselves by that time.
When I am in constant inventory of all the authorities (parents, teachers, employers etc.) in my past and present, and I commit to daily forgive them as needed, I notice that I am much more open to be corrected. This new teachability is also increased ten fold when I chose to stop being hard on myself for any mistakes or failures that I have made.
Here is what I’ve learned through all this: at the core of a wise teachable man is a heart that is gracious and forgiving toward others AND one’s self.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
Michael spent the first eleven years of his life in the Philippines, before he moved with his family to Los Angeles. He graduated from Columbia International University. He was involved in youth ministry for many years before he was sent by his heavenly Father to the marketplace mission field.
Michael currently resides with his wife and children in the beautiful Northwest. He is an avid sports fan, with a special interest in basketball and Jiu Jitsu. He has also competed in the sport of arm wrestling since 1996.
Michael believes that knowledge is a means to an end. The end purpose of life is developing a loving relationship with God and others (Matthew 22:35-40). The result of that end is producing fruit, doing good works, and changing the world. It is an enslaving purpose to pursue knowledge and fruit producing as an end in itself.
His Favorite Verse
“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19
For more from Michael, visit www.MichaelTrillo.com
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