Here’s a loaded question…
Do you have a teachable spirit? In Acts 8:26-31 there is an interesting interaction between 2 men. One of them is a man of great importance. He was part of the royal cabinet of Ethiopia and the other was a simple man named Philip. Both possessed a wonderful quality that put them in position for something incredible to happen. It wasn’t something grandiose, nor was it something they had to strive to achieve. But this one quality, a quality that is common among great leaders and lacking in those who just want to be in charge, had a marked impact on them.
Philip was teachable in that he responded to what he felt led by God to do. The Ethiopian was teachable in that he was not shy to seek help when it applied to growing himself by expanding his understanding beyond what he already knew. You can only start there if you are willing to admit you don’t know everything. Although he held a position of great responsibility and stature, he still was teachable. Look at the record of this interaction.
“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.”
Philip was content to take the next step, and then the next step, without fully knowing or understanding where it was going to lead him. Teachable. He was instructed to go down to the desert road and was given no further instruction. So he started out and headed where he was instructed to go. It was then that he encountered the “important” government official from Ethiopia. If Philip had paused to see what the next several steps were to be, he would have altogether missed the Ethiopian. He was willing to take action. It was only after he crossed paths with the Ethiopian that he received his next step. “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” That is literally all he was instructed to do and he acted on it. It had to be awkward. Philip must have thought “I don’t know this guy.” The Ethiopian was probably wondering who this strange guy was stalking his chariot. But it led to the next step for both of them. Philip heard the official reading, and asked if he understood what he was reading. There’s a lot there to consider. This wasn’t happenstance. This wasn’t luck. This was preparation meeting opportunity. Philip’s teachable spirit had prepared him and positioned him for this life-changing moment. Life-changing for him and the Ethiopian. The did not know each other prior to this, but having a teachable spirit left them both open to traveling and talking with one another. The government official, possessing a teachable spirit as well, admitted he didn’t understand and would need assistance to expand his understanding. No shame in that. He didn’t assume to know it all and was not embarrassed to solicit help when needed. The mark of a great leader. Philip offered a solution to his problem and joined him on his chariot. Both men were changed as a result. Immediately, Philip went from walking to riding in style on this chariot. Subsequently, the Ethiopian had a life-changing experience simply by being teachable.
Whether you relate to Philip in this story or the “important” government official, a couple of things are certain…none of us know it all and we all have room to grow. So, the question still remains…do you have a teachable spirit?
If I can help any of you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Growth doesn’t come looking for you—you have to go and find it. That means being willing to step outside yourself by asking questions of the people and situations that surround you. By adapting a teachable spirit, we prepare and position ourselves for opportunity that we would miss otherwise. When we’re willing to seek out and learn lessons from others, from experience, and from reflection, then we’re able to increase our capacity for growth.