The Mandate of Teachability

teachable“For everyone who listens with an open heart will receive progressively more revelation until he has more than enough. But those who don’t listen with an open, teachable heart, even the understanding that they think they have will be taken from them.” (Matthew 13:12 TPT*)

Are you still being taught, still learning, still seeking to know more tomorrow than you know today? The day you stop being #teachable is the day you begin to stagnate spiritually. We are all meant to be in a continual state of growth, right up until the day we go home to be with Jesus. To remain teachable, we have to deliberately push ourselves beyond those things we already know (and sometimes feel like we know it all! Yeah, I’ve been guilty of that a time or two myself!), and place ourselves in the hands of people who know more than we do. Being teachable requires a bit of humility–for when we think we have it all figured out, sometimes we begin to disdain those who are trying to teach us what we feel is old hat. We are so conditioned to wanting variety, variety, choices, choices, drop down menus, where we can skip the stuff that is boring and go on to what stimulates our curiosity and makes us feel good about ourselves.

I remember one time being with a friend, and we went to a church meeting with a special speaker. We rode together. She sat about 10 minutes into the meeting, long enough to find out that the teacher was going to teach on the subject of healthy marriages and being a godly wife. She leaned over and said to me, “Let’s go. This is of no benefit to me. I already know all this.” How sad that I followed her lead and left, even though I was the driver! My friend may not have felt she needed the help, but I needed (and still do!) all the help I can get!

“To learn the truth you must long to be teachable, or you can despise correction and remain ignorant.” (Proverbs 12:1 TPT*)

While we can learn a lot from our peers, and while we can be iron sharpening iron to one another, there’s only so much someone else on our same level can impart to us. It can be a hard hurdle to leap over because we want to be with the people we enjoy most and feel we have the most in common with. Sometimes we have to deliberately place ourselves outside that common area for a season so that we can be more open to the meatier part of spiritual maturity–those hard lessons that aren’t learned over coffee and a game of cornhole. Some of the most valuable elements of growth you will ever receive are waiting to be imparted from people who don’t fit your parameters–some (and likely, most) will be older…some may even be younger…some will be from a different walk of life and not always what you consider to be a level up from your own…some will be people you don’t consider to be particularly interesting to hang around. Sometimes God will even pair you with someone that you have to pursue, who doesn’t offer you any encouragement to pursue him or her–like Elijah with Elisha! We have many spiritual brothers and sisters but very few spiritual mothers and fathers—and those, friends, are who we need to seek out IF we want to grow. Enjoy spiritual sibling-ship (if there is such a word…lol), but pursue mentors and spiritual parents.

I am not in any way downplaying the importance of fellowship and small groups—if anything, we need to connect more and more as the days grow more wicked. I hope each of you reading this will find such a group of people and get plugged in. It’s much needed and it will bless you. However, it’s been said that if you are the smartest person in the room, you need to be looking for another room. You can still enjoy common union with the others, but I encourage you, find the people God wants to use to TEACH you and include them in your life. If everyone you’re close to and gleaning from is on the same level as you, who is going to be able to rally the others when discouragement or crisis comes to the whole tribe? Or, think of it another way…would you really want to be operated on by a med student who’s not actually certified yet; whose only instruction is being taught by fellow med students and a correspondence course? Yes, we are all still learning, no matter how many years we are into our Christian walk—even surgeons have to do continuing education—but we will never be qualified to teach others if we avoid being under the authority of someone who can correct us when we are wrong, and protect us from ourselves when we are full of zeal and less full of wisdom.

There are many things I wish I’d asked my parents and grandparents before they died, both about spiritual matters and life lessons. It was only after they were all gone that I began to think of certain pieces of information I would’ve liked to have passed down to me, and now they’re no longer here to give that information. We sometimes surmise that because the generation up from us isn’t tech savvy, or that they had limited opportunities, that they are no longer relevant to who we are today. We couldn’t be more wrong! These folks may not have had Google search or a college education, but they knew how to survive in hard times—from depressions to child rearing to staying put when commitment to a family or to a cause was hard or lackluster or less than what they hoped it would be.

Lord, crucify pride in our lives that would cause us to become root bound, pride which says to our teachers, “I don’t have to listen to you, I know all of that already!” Send people into our lives who can impart and equip us to be what might be the final generation–and if we aren’t, then we need to be able teachers of those who come after us. Help us, then, to be teachable. O God, help us to welcome correction and to welcome accountability instead of leaning to our own understanding. We cannot give what we have not yet received. With all of our getting, may we get wisdom and understanding. Help us not to avoid relationships with trusted mentors who can speak transparently into our lives. Place us in the position of being discipled, that we in turn might disciple others. Cause us to develop maturity and humility and receptiveness to a right word in a right season. Empower us, Holy Spirit. We pray in Jesus’ name…

*Scriptures quoted from The Passion Translation® of the Holy Bible, Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.

 

Cupbearers to the King: A Prayer to be Liaisons of God

GobletThere are two people in the Old Testament, one named and one not,  who served as a cupbearers to pagan kings…with supernatural destinies mapped out by God.

The first was the cupbearer who would displease Pharaoh and wind up a cellmate with Joseph.  Two servants had been tossed “in the slammer,” if you’ll remember–the cupbearer and the baker.  Joseph interpreted their dreams and begged them to remember him to the king when they got out.  Sure enough, the baker met the prophesied death, and the cupbearer was restored to his former position with his master.  Only after the king  himself began having troubling dreams did the cupbearer remember Joseph and the promise.  The story ends powerfully:  a godly man winds up in leadership directly under Egypt’s powerful potentate, and the lives of untold numbers of people (including Jacob/Israel and his entire family) are saved from a deadly famine.  The liaison God used to bring Joseph and Pharaoh together?  An unlikely cupbearer, whose very life was spared for one critical moment when he would speak a right word!

Fast-forward to the time of the Babylonian exile of Israel’s descendants.  Persia has ousted the Babylonians, who had taken God’s people out of their homeland and into captivity. Through the process of time and with much opposition from nations who hated the Judean people, the actions and edicts of King Cyrus,King Darius, and King Artaxerxes would eventually see Jerusalem restored.  I find this whole story (in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah) so interesting; because one day, seemingly out of the blue (which we know isn’t the case…it was because of God’s sovereign plan), King Cyrus just issues an edict that a temple in Jerusalem is to be built!  He orders surrender of the precious artifacts and tools that had been stolen out of the original temple.  From there, the avalanche of restoration had begun–on the enemy’s dime–and there would be no stopping it.  This is another whole message in itself!

Now, back to that second cupbearer, Nehemiah, who served King Artaxerxes.  While Ezra would be the one to whom it was given charge to rebuild the temple, it was this cupbearer of the king who would be given charge to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. Artaxerxes was clearly pleased to have a trusted servant like Nehemiah, so I don’t take it lightly that he would be so willing to turn loose of this man whose job was to guard him from being poisoned!  This was no coincidence. Out of all the positions Nehemiah could have been assigned in that kingdom, God saw to it that his would be one in direct connection to the king himself; and that there would be a relationship of trust established.  Jerusalem would be restored, yes…and by people who had administrative abilities, labor skills, defense strategies, and priestly ordination.

It saddens me that so many believers want to be far-removed from the political arena these days.  Much of it is just this whole living-in-a-goldfish-bowl society of ours.  Everyone’s personal life is on display, and the price for offering one’s service to government often calculates to the destruction of his or her reputation and credibility.  These folks find enemies they didn’t know they even had.  From the campaigning time throughout a public servant’s career, his or her life is scrutinized and criticized.  I myself would be petrified at the thought of running for any office!   If you’re like me, not someone with political ambitions but who’s still concerned about the welfare of our nation, may I challenge you to offer yourself as a cupbearer to the “king?”  Taking on the role of a servant to those in authority, if you are a child of God, can be as instrumental in His purpose for our nation as being in rule yourself. By saying this, I mean a true servant.  Not a spy, and not a source of leaking information or gossip, not a saboteur or a manipulator: someone who recognizes that proximity opens the door of opportunity to bring prayer closer to those in leadership!

Presidents, governors, congressmen, judges, mayors and the like, they’re all just people.  They often find themselves uncertain and in need of input; more often than we even know..  As we saw in the movie, “The Butler,” those who serve them in a non-political capacity are often subsconciously regarded by these authorities as more trustworthy than the people in official advisory positions around them.  While a leader may or may not acknowledge that relationship as “friendship,” a trusted servant has a powerful connection!  There are others in the Bible with that same type of direct and indirect influence, such as Mordecai, Daniel, Shadrach, Meschech, and Abednego…and then there’s Esther, whose beauty and goodness became the favor point that earned her a place in the kingdom at the king’s side.

The Word admonishes us to be wise as serpents yet harmless as doves.  A mature believer full well knows the importance of one’s words.  Would you be willing to be an unsung hero for the kingdom of God, by just being an unassuming voice of reason to those who have the power to order a thing to pass?  Pray with me:

“Father, I don’t know whether You would will it to be so, but I offer myself today to be a cupbearer to the king, for Your glory.  If I was born for such as time as this, I am willing.  Thank You that we live in a nation and states where we are a free people, and where our religious freedoms still abound even when they are challenged.  Forgive me for times when I have railed on the “establishment,” and chose to complain instead of pray. However, I know we are in a late hour, and that You are mobilizing key people to be godly influences to those in leadership in these last days.  You are not just using our gifts inside the walls of the church; You are using our talent, abilities, and insight as tools in both the secular world and the government to turn attention back toward You.  Use what You’ve given me WHEREVER You want!

I may or may not have proximity to actual persons in authority, but I ask You to help me walk in the kind of integrity that could open up that possibility.  Help me to be a person in whom others can share things confidentially, knowing that I won’t betray their trust.  Help me to develop a reputation for honesty, for even-temperament, for respectability, for wisdom, for quietness until there’s a right time to speak.  May even those who don’t yet value You value the qualities they see You instilling within me.  Set them up for an encounter with You through me!  Give me great love for those who are over me; a willingness to see them as souls and not just authority figures.  Burden me to pray for them and their families.  Give me genuine concern for their well-being spiritually, physically, and mentally.  As Your Word has instructed, I will make it my priority to pray for them.  I ask You, too, to alert me to pray for the ones who are often overlooked by other intercessors!

Lord, even if it is not meant for me to be a servant or confidante of someone in authority,  I pledge to be salt and light right where I am now.  I’ll be a model citizen.  I will be that employee who’s trusted and valued.  And I pray now for others who might be chosen to be cupbearers.  Father, raise up godly men and women and young people who are in the ears of those who must make decisions that affect entire geographic regions–nations, states, counties, municipalities.  May these leaders feel drawn to the wisdom and integrity of godly influences, and may they begin to conform to the attributes of these godly people even though they might not yet know You!  Use your children to walk the halls of capitol buildings, corporate boardrooms, courthouses, and city halls.  May our prayers echo and bounce off the walls into every crack.  Lord, bless even the little old Christian lady who’s on her knees scrubbing the floor where a senator or governor sits.  As she does her job, may praises and prayer quietly infiltrate and change an entire atmosphere!  Send dreams to our leaders as well, and to their spouses…for You’ve even used dreams to initiate positive change.

Finally, Lord, as a cupbearer, I ask you to remind me when someone is in captivity or being treated unjustly!  Like the Pharaoh’s servant who suddenly remembered Joseph, may my carefully-dispensed suggestions come sparingly but always in Your time, so that a word in season might spark an entire chain of events capable of saving a nation!  Like Nehemiah, may my influence, whether at a secular job or in the town in which I live, open a door to further Your kingdom and Your will!  Give me favor and I vow not to abuse it.  If I am a cupbearer one day and suddenly assigned to build a wall of protection, to restore broken things, and to fight the enemy at the same time if necessary, then amen and so be it!  Make me a restorer and rebuilder wherever You situate me.  On whatever level You choose to use me, I am yours.  Make me Your ambassador, Your special liaison, and I will strive not to disappoint You in any way!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”