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Being "teachable" makes success "reachable"

In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him (1 Sam. 18:14).

“I got this!” can be a dangerous statement. Those three seemingly innocent words in our modern lexicon can quickly spell disaster. What this adrenal catchphrase implies is that “I’ve got everything under control” … until I DON’T!

Just ask my eight-year-old son, John, who acts out those words in a dramatic fashion. It usually happens in the performance of an unrehearsed, YouTube-inspired stunt on his scooter that almost always goes cringeworthily wrong. And yet, after he regains his breath, John rebounds and is ready for a second … a third … a ninety ninth attempt! At his age, he can easily dismiss those bumps and scrapes as a “I need to ‘get’ this down harder” moment. As we grow older, however, the mistakes seem to hurt worse—or at least the bruises take longer to heal.

Sometimes, the bruises occur because we’ve stubbed our souls WITH our toes. What I mean is that each of us is in hot pursuit of a particular goal. We all desire a certain amount of success in our ministries, our careers, our relationships, and in our other interests. The challenge, however, is to know when God has designated an apparently “unreachable” goal as a “teachable” moment.

We see an example of this in 1 Sam. 18:1-16, which describes the aftermath of David’s heroic victory against the Philistines. His powerful shoulder from which he had slung a stone and slayed the slanderous beast Goliath has now propelled him to fame (alliteration always does!). But the current king, Saul, mistakes the public’s fanfare as a threat to his throne (v. 7). Despite God’s plans to someday establish David’s throne forever, King Saul is still residing in an “I got this!” attitude.

And so, Saul continually grows more fearful and jealous of David. He erratically lobs a spear at David (who is playing the harp) in the middle of a therapeutic jam session. He even commissions David as the commander of a thousand troops—all under the guise that David might be killed in battle. In spite of his best efforts, however, the author of 1 Samuel tells us that David “prospered” or had “great success” in everything because the LORD was “with him” (v. 14). The difference is that David had made himself “teachable.”

In Hebrew, the root word used here for “to prosper” or to be “successful” is to “become wise” or to be “teachable.” I believe that the more we become “teachable” as in “God’s got this!” the more our goals become “reachable”—even if it means a reshuffling of our priorities at the moment.

In other words, I find that when I’m more “attentive” to God (again, Heb., “to prosper”), the less attention is drawn to my own mistakes—because God is using each example as a “teachable” moment. And, someday, John will realize this truth, too. But for now, we’re buying stocks in scooter parts!

Prayer: Gracious Father, help us to see the “teachable” moments in our lives as the steps towards making your plans for us “reachable.” Amen.

Rev. Brian Keithline

First Baptist Church of Torrington

Torrington, Wyo.

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