One of our favorite quotes among our Pastoral staff is, “Leaders are learners—when you stop learning you stop leading.” These words have become commonplace in our church culture, but they’ve never been more true. As leaders, we have to be hungry to learn and willing to humble ourselves to someone else’s wisdom and experience.

So what makes somebody “teachable”?

Someone Who Asks Curious, Thoughtful Questions
Somebody who is curious and asks lots of good questions is hungry to learn. They are processing the information that has been provided, and now they’re seeking clarification for an even deeper understanding. They KNOW they need to learn and use the answers to those questions to propel themselves forward. If you want to show someone you’re listening, learning and leading, ask great questions.

Of the two, this one is easy. Obviously some folks are more inquisitive, and better at asking questions, but almost everybody enjoys learning life lessons and having teachable moments that they initiated!

Someone Who Is Humble Enough To Let Others In
It isn’t easy, but a truly teachable person allows others to speak into their life through exhortation, encouragement, correction, and coaching…even when they aren’t asking for it!

This one…is tough. To be open to correction you didn’t know you needed. To be coached in areas you thought you had already mastered. To be pushed in directions you don’t think you want (or need) to go. To learn from people who don’t know as much as you do. For instance, Josh knows almost nothing compared to me (Kurt…and apparently I didn’t write the “pride” article the other day), but I am shocked at how much I learn from him when I open myself up to his wisdom.

Chances are the older, more experienced, more educated and more “successful” you are, the less teachable you are, too. While this is natural, it doesn’t make sense. In the fast-paced, ever-changing world of ministry leaders simply can’t afford to quit learning. What I’ve discovered about so many of my youth ministry friends…and about myself…is that while we’re quick to ask questions and learn stuff we WANT to learn, we’re sometimes a little slower to become truly teachable.

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

As we head into the Life Group season full-swing, one of the big questions we have to answer is about curriculum for our small groups. Our answer is the LIVE curriculum from Simply Youth Ministry, with it’s 4-year teaching plan and great technology behind it. Whatever you choose for your ministry, you would be served well by following the criteria Youth Ministry 360 lays out – here’s 3 of the 9 principles they shared on their site today:

Teachability
How “teachable” is the resource? There some great looking resources out there that are written or laid-out in such a way that makes them difficult for a teacher to actually teach. So, lesson teachability is a huge factor. The Internet has made purchasing curriculum a breeze. These days, I can’t imagine buying a resource without viewing a sample lesson. Any reputable (and some who aren’t) resource provider will offer a downloadable sample of the resource. Take the time to download and really check it out. Read for theological accuracy, teaching style, and overall comfort. It’s like trying on clothes: you know when it fits.

Free Is Great, But . . .Lots and lots of folks offer free lessons.
We do it (and you can check our free stuff out here). And most of the major curriculum providers do, too. Free lessons are great for individual use, or to get a feel for a specific provider’s overall curriculum strategy. But, you’ll never be effective if your youth ministry relies on free lessons for the majority of your teaching time. It’s a shotgun approach that is tough to be very strategic with. Here’s one thing I have learned: there are a million people offering free lessons online. All you need is a blog, and Microsoft Word, and you can create and distribute resources. Not all of it is good, accurate, reliable, or usable. By all means, take advantage of free resources. Take advantage of ours and the many other great ones available. But, don’t become too dependent on them. Honestly, you are better off writing your own curriculum than having a steady diet of free lessons where you can’t control the direction.

There Is No Perfect Curriculum
The best curriculum in the world is still just a starting point. You know your students better than the men and women who create the curriculum. It’s a good idea to know that you will always have to make tweaks to lessons to make sure they fit your students’ personalities and level of spiritual development. You know you’ve chosen the right curriculum when you find that the tweaks are relatively minor, and that for the most part, you are not having to make them week-in, and week-out.

JG