When I was growing up and playing sports, my dad always gave me the same piece of advice before every practice or game: “be coachable.” It was the last two words I heard before getting out of every car. The words were drilled into my head. At the time, I certainly would’ve considered myself to be a coachable player and teammate, because my dad had taught me what it meant to be coachable. Yet it was after my playing days that I realized the significance of what it truly means to live by being “coachable.”
AM I COACHABLE AND TEACHABLE?
If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored. Proverbs 13:18 (NLT)
Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others. Proverbs 12:15 (NLT)
To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction. Proverbs 12:1 (NLT)
We must understand a few things: none of this means to let other people think for us; none of this means to let other people make our decisions. What we are being taught here is that we are to listen to others, and value what could be wonderful insight from them, that will lead to growth. It means to take a position of humility, where we learn to “love discipline.”
Acts 8:26-38 is a beautiful passage that displays this teachable, coachable spirit, and what such a humble position can bring:
As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah. The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.” Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him. The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter.
And as a lamb is silent before the shearers,
He did not open his mouth.
He was humiliated and received no justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.
The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.
As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.
That simple, humble gesture of “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” led to God doing something HUGE in the lives of both of these men: Philip had the opportunity to disciple this man and lead him to Christ by telling him “the Good News about Jesus,” and the eunuch, by being “coachable,” found himself understanding that passage that he was wrestling with in a new and profound way, which led to him seeing Christ in those words. The eunuch was teachable. Philip taught him.
IT ISN’T EASY.
It is truly taking a humble, open-handed position. But, it is in that position that God works through us, in us, and around us. Philippians 2:3 puts it this way:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. (NIV)