The sneakiest way you seek validation.

When I am finished writing a song or a blog I sometimes send it to a friend or mentor before I release it to the public. I ask them to look over it and give me feedback about what is good and what should be tweaked. Few things are as exciting as seeing their reply in my inbox. While reading the email my eyes light up as they point out specific sections that encouraged, delighted, or even challenged them. By the time I reach the middle of the email the content and direction begin to shift to some helpful critiques that might make my creation even more “wow-worthy.” And something funny begins to happen. I become offended. My friend may mention a line that I really believed in and say that it doesn’t paint a clear enough picture or evoke as much emotion as it could, or worse yet, simply isn’t necessary. And I catch myself arguing with them in my head… every time.

Checking my motives.

So I have to ask myself, what did I actually want to hear? Was I lying when I sent the email? Did I really want them to critique it or was I looking for something else? When you ask for advice but refuse to be teachable, you’re really looking for validation rather than feedback. When I send my songs or blog ideas to my smart friends, I don’t really want them to critique my work, I want them to be blown away by it. I want them to respond with something like, “This far exceeds anything I have ever written. You are an amazingly gifted writer.”

Not as humble as we think.

This is the case in every area of life. I know people who have been in romantic relationships, for example, and their friends and family are against it, so they go talk to their pastor. Their pastor is against it, so they seek out a counselor. The counselor is against it so they find a mentor. And on and on they go. Sometimes someone will even ask me what I think about their situation. It’s a trap. If they haven’t listened to the other smart people in their lives, they aren’t looking for wisdom, they’re looking for permission. They’re looking for someone to observe the situation and congratulate them on how good of job they are doing and tell them why everyone else is wrong. But the worst part is, we still pretend to be teachable, not just to others but to ourselves. We say things like, “I want to make the right decision,” or “If the Lord told me right now to walk away, I would.” And we believe it when we say it. But we haven’t given any of the voices around us a second thought.

Two Questions To Ask To Test Your Teachability.

We usually aren’t nearly as teachable as we give ourselves credit for. If you want to know if you are a teachable person, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. What would it take for you to change your mind?

You may say things like, “If God spoke to me and told me to change direction, I would immediately.” But God doesn’t usually come waltzing in with an audible divine message. He most of the time uses people and circumstances in our lives. If you aren’t listening to either of these, ask yourself what realistically would have to take place or who would need to approach you to get you to change your mind? If nothing and no one comes to mind you may not be as teachable as you think.

  1. Have you given the feedback any thought?

Being teachable doesn’t mean that you always take everyone’s advice. That’s actually called being a people pleaser. But when someone gives you input, especially people you trust (after all, you wouldn’t ask them for advice if you didn’t trust their wisdom), do you entertain the suggestion at all? Or do you immediately disregard what they have to say at the first sign that they may disagree with you?

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