I suppose you could say it was my first real experience with genuine instruction and correction since stepping into vocational ministry. I was an enthusiastic, passionate, and get-it-done 20 year old ready to conquer the world! But, as much as I liked to believe in my early twenties that I had it all figured out, I rather didn’t. This became apparent one sunny day when my pastor and mentor called me into her office. As I sat there eager to soak up her wisdom, I wasn’t quite ready for what was ahead of me.
She then proceeded to share with me a bit of insight and wisdom so that I could grow as an individual and in my gift as a ministry leader. In a nutshell, I had a tendency to wear my emotions on my sleeve and sometimes that meant I appeared stressed or preoccupied to the volunteers around me.
It wasn’t easy to hear, but it was necessary. I walked out of her office that day determined to take what she said and to pursue growth in that area. It’s still something I try to be conscious of today and 13 years later, it’s made all the difference.
Truthfully, instruction can be hard to hear, but it can also be a beautiful conduit for God to mold and prune you. Neither of which particularly feel good in the moment but always end up having significant value in the Kingdom.
Look at how Apollos received instruction in Acts 18:24-28.
“Now a Jew named Apollos… He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately… When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.”
Apollos was a devoted follower of God; someone knowledgeable in Old Testament Scriptures and a disciple of John the Baptist. He was excited about sharing God with the lost and seemed to be on the right track. Yet, he had much to learn! (As we all do.)
In his journey, Priscilla and Aquila had the opportunity to hear Apollos teach and had noticed some missing theology about the Christian truths. They lovingly pulled him aside and shared with him these truths of the risen Christ so that moving forward, his teaching would be stronger.
What strikes me is the reception Apollos gave to the instruction. He could have pushed back and cited his knowledge of the Scriptures or his time being discipled by John. He could have refused to listen and kept doing what he was doing. But he didn’t.
Instead, Apollos received the instruction and implemented it. He embraced the correction, wove it into how he operated moving forward, and allowed it to make him a more effective witness.
So, how are you with instruction? Do you fight it, whether internally or professionally, or do you take it in and meditate on what has been shared with you? Do you allow correction to make you better? I hope so. The truth is, as you walk with a teachable spirit, God will only increase your reach. This is gold in pursuing the call on your life!
I do think it’s important to note there’s a difference between wise instruction from a Godly mentor / friend that you trust, and receiving negative feedback from someone with a critical spirit. You’ll be able to distinguish between the two of them; whether it’s good or not. Embrace the good. If it’s from a critic, move on, and focus on what God is doing in your life.
Here’s how you can take feedback from a trusted source:
• Ask the Holy Spirit how you can grow from this experience.
What can you learn?
• Brainstorm how you are going to implement this new-found knowledge.
For me, that meant being intentional with my facial expressions. I vividly remember one Sunday morning, as I hurriedly walked through the hallways of church to accomplish a mission, I kept telling myself to smile at everyone I walked by and take time with those who stopped to chat with me. Honestly, it was a much more enjoyable experience for me in the end to engage with others rather than bee lining it to my destination.
• If you forget to implement, that’s ok. Try again next time!
The more you practice the more likely it will become a habit.
I know correction and feedback isn’t always easy to receive, but it’s how you choose to respond in these moments that will determine the trajectory of your course. Your ability to embrace instruction directly correlates with the breadth of your influence. Move through life with a teachable spirit!
Brittany Rust has a passion to give encouragement to the world-weary believer through her writing, speaking, and podcasting. She is the author of Untouchable: Unraveling the Myth That You're Too Faithful to Fall and hosts the Epic Fails podcast. She is also the founder of For the Mama Heart, a space to breathe for those in the trenches of motherhood. Brittany, her husband Ryan and their son Roman, make their home in the Rocky Mountains, pursuing outdoor adventures, great food, and memorable stories together. Learn more at www.brittanyrust.com.