Be wise enough to learn

Published 10:43 pm Friday, September 27, 2013

By Rev. Chris Surber

I can’t imagine anything worse than not having the ability to learn. To be perfectly honest though, I have not found those with true learning disabilities to be the least teachable.

Not many years ago, when I served a church in Illinois, I volunteered on the board of directors of a school for children with severe developmental disabilities. Their conditions ranged from severe classic autism and Down syndrome to cerebral palsy and the long term effects of traumatic brain injury in children.

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They were precious children, and I very much miss being a small part of providing for their education. They were teachable.

I remember one little girl who, though she could not speak or move any of her limbs due to the serious physical manifestations of her condition, had learned to communicate with those around her by tilting her head just enough to push a blue or a red button that allowed her to interact with a computer program on a display that she could see. This technology, coupled with her desire to learn and communicate, gave her a voice.

I know many people with no mental or physical limitations whose desire to learn and improve their communication isn’t half as strong as hers. Compared to that little girl, learning is something many of us take for granted or think we don’t need to do. We have it all figured out, or so we think.

At school, we learn just enough to eke out a passing grade. A parent or experienced friend offers advice, and we don’t take it because we think we know better. The pastor offers correction from God’s Word, and we blame him for being judgmental, instead of searching our hearts to see if there is any truth in what he has shared from that divine book.

Those children at The Lighted Way School will always be precious to me. They were teachable in a way I never could be. There is no guile or vanity in them, and that allows them to be teachable. By and large, their hearts harbor no narcissism.

As a result, they love others, including their teachers and that makes them teachable. When we love ourselves and our opinions too much, it makes us un-teachable.

How can we learn when we assume, usually without cause, that we are the authority on all things that pertain to us?

In Proverbs 19:25 the Bible says “If you punish a mocker, the simpleminded will learn a lesson; if you correct the wise, they will be all the wiser.” (NLT)

Do you want to prove your wisdom? Be wise enough to be teachable.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at www.chrissurber.com.