Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Teaching Unteachable People: Teaching to Teach You if you are Teachable


"Teaching Unteachable People - Teaching to Teach You if you are Teachable" Whew!

Teaching the unteachable. What a leadership conundrum! First of all let's get one thing clear...

I need to be FAT... and no I don't mean more carbohydrates in my diet and an increase in my ice-cream intake. I must be:

Faithful, Available and Teachable.

While I may strive for this, and others may emulate these three characteristics, the leadership dilemma is clearly evident when someone is faithful, available and unteachable.

Right now you're thinking of Joe Blogs and saying, 'Yeah, what DO you do when someone is unteachable?!' You know the person. Maybe its stubbornness, the desire to be in control, pride that tells the person they know what is best or longevity in a position that causes them to choose to become unteachable. Maybe you identify someone in your circles of influence?

The quick fire leadership answer may well be, to realise that you are only capable of changing your own attitudes, discovering new truths and implementing them in your life, and that you are completely incapable of doing that for someone else. We may then move on to another leadership topic, and forget about considering teaching the unteachable.

I want to highlight though some points from a letter in the Bible, that Paul writes in order to mentor a younger guy named Timothy. Now, whether you are in to the God stuff or not, stick with me here, because Paul highlights some helpful leadership tips in teaching the unteachable.

Paul teaches Timothy the following:

  • When teaching others avoid arguments, because they produce quarrels.  
    • '....Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do you best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus...' 2 Timothy 2:14-17.
  • Do not avoid teaching - Paul does not tell Timothy to forget about teaching Mrs. Start-a-fire and Mr. Quarrelsome.
  • Ensure you remain kind to everyone - As hard as that may be, do not let your character dissipate because someone else is argumentative or unteachable.
  • Ensure you are not resentful and thus remain able to teach with authenticity and integrity.
    • 'Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct...' 2 Timothy 2:23-25
  • When teaching be ready to patiently and carefully challenge and correct as needed. - When you have mastered this, please let me know because I'd love to master this as well! Patience is a virtue...
    • 'All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness...' 2 Timothy 3:16.
    • 'Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction' 2 Timothy 4:2.
  • Understand that investing time in reliable, teachable people may be a more beneficial use of your time (not that you stop teaching others!)
    • 'And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others' 2 Timothy 2:2
This remains a leadership dilemma for many of us; that is, lifting our capacity to teach effectively and witnessing the transformation that the teaching causes.

Whether you are like me, and teach people about the life, death and resurrection of that revolutionary one they call Jesus Christ of Nazareth, or whether you are a leadership guru, school teacher, sports coach, Bible study leader or just all round nice guy... learning to teach effectively and learning to inspire those who are seemingly unteachable is a great leadership challenge. It was a challenge back in the time of Paul and Timothy (1st Century) and it sure is a challenge today.

I must go. I have a plate of Ice-cream and a bunch of carbohydrates to consume. I must get FAT (faithful, available, teachable!)

God bless.

Also have a look at the TOP 100 Leadership Tips here.


"Teaching Unteachable People - Teaching to Teach You if you are Teachable" is written by Pete Brookshaw and partly the Apostle Paul!

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