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Monday, March 21, 2016

Are You Teachable?

Are you “teachable”? When are you most able to receive instruction? When are you most resistant? (Serendipity Bible Fourth Edition, page 824).

Today I was at Dollar Tree standing in line behind a precocious five-year-old. Near where we were standing was a display of colored pencils. With sheer delight the little boy was spelling the names of colors and gleefully pointing out correctly each color. He then took an interest in what I had in my shopping cart and wanted to know what things were for and why I had bought two of some items. I looked at that sparkling intelligence and could only regret the extent to which adults have willfully or inadvertently dulled their brains with prejudicial notions and toxic substances.

I think one of the most damaging and damning features of a jaundiced brain is label reflexivity in which, for example, within an organization we circumscribe and delimit individuals by the organizational roles they play.  For example where we live is a wonderful jitney driver named Naomi. I have come to see her as just that – a jitney driver. The other day I happened to be sitting in the back of a large room that was vacant except for someone in the front queueing up videos for later presentation. Suddenly on the screen stood a composed and gracious Naomi speaking with professional polish without notes. The sound was turned down so I could not hear what she was saying, but on-screen she had the charm and presence of an accomplished Secretary of State. In short, I saw her without the usual ironclad organizational frame of reference. Immediately I felt convicted that here was a person I had seen one-dimensionally. My tired old brain had tricked me into believing a perceptual fiction rather than a multidimensional fact.

The mental ruts we live in hurt not only us but others. So you see the question posed above can be sad to contemplate.  As to when I am most open to training, that’s a slamdunk – when I feel at home and perceive the communicator embodies intellectual humility. Today Connie and I attended Bowling Green United Methodist Church. Amy Harper is the pastor. She gave us something to remember for the week ahead: do what Christ said; feel how he felt; tell others about Jesus. The second concept was particularly striking to me since I had never much thought about  it. One of the most remarkable things about Jesus was the way he felt open and accepting (even on a flat-out shocking level) with those who most people would label unimportant and reflexively dismissible or repugnant. I hope it is not too late for me to revive the fresh outlook of a vital five-year-old traversing a perceptual wonderland of intellectual curiosity and engagement.

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