A teachable spirit

I’m certain you’ve heard this term many times. I have too, and I have used it countless times as well, but this weekend gave me an understanding that blows my mind. Trying to put it into words is a mission even, but I am gonna try.

Oh hi, I know it’s been a while. A year or more! I really want to tell you how I got here but today I want to share this story, so let’s agree on this…we are gonna work backwards. From where I am to where I have been the past year and a half or so. Deal…? Deal!

This past weekend, on Saturday, I had the privilege to speak to a group of young adults from a church in the Eastrand. It was a great gathering, intimate and very open. But we know me, even when kungekho open ndiya open-isha hahaha! Anyway, I had prepared talking points, but Jesus decided to steer it in a totally different direction. When He did this, I was so ready to ask Him, ndithi “my guy nangoku usafuna ndibe ngulowo wamabali? So lilonke ndinguNomabali!”

Asikho lapho!

Right, so ndibalise ke…God in His “G” style drops three key things to me. 1. Forgiveness 2. A teachable spirit and another one. Yes! I can’t remember the other one because kaloku it wasn’t planned. God spoke through these principles but the second stuck with me. Why? Kaloku, yours truly has never been one to have a teachable spirit, oko ndaba stubborn. It may be the fact that I grew up prematurely. I had to reason beyond my age, do things myself and never really had people to ask, “How is this done?” So, having a teachable spirit, which is in the same WhatsApp group with humility, listening, respecting etc. is a state of constant learning; fFrom God, from people and from those who have walked before you.

The next day, I am running a 21km race, which by the way was not my idea. Trust! Anyway, moghel now runs, she’s slimmer too. But asikho lapho. Cool! I run ke, and there’s an intersection where 21km and 10km runners separate. I get to this intersection and the marshals are playing around and automatically I think I’m on the right path. Kanti, ndibaleka i10km. I only realise this when my friend passes me by and says, “You’re almost there!” The disappointment! I didn’t stop running but I was hurting because this was a big deal to me. So, I get to the finish line. Because my race number is registered for a 21km, they give me a 21 km medal. And at this point I am numb. I could not even speak, close to tears and they just shoved me to one side as I tried to explain myself. In the background, I hear murmurs on how it’s impossible that I could run 21km in that time – they weren’t wrong, but they wouldn’t let me explain either. I got to my friend, who had completed the 21km at 1h36min and I tell him how furious I am. As we engage, he tells to not feel guilty, “you can make up for it tomorrow.” My spirit refused! We got to the car and I told him I am not taking the medal out its package. “I refuse to take a picture with something I did not work for…”

Guess what I did, on top of the 10.45km I had run to get to the finish line, I took my phone out, set my Nike App to 11km and asked him to wait for me. It would take me about 1h45min – but I didn’t care. I ran! It was painful, but I ran the kilometres. You wonder why I am telling you this story and how it links to having a teachable spirit cause ayivakali ncam neh. Well here is the thing, a few years ago, I would have taken the praise for that medal before I earned it. I would have blamed the marshals and said, “it is their fault and so I am deserving.” I would have found a way of cussing the ladies who murmured about my body size and how I would have never made it to the finish line in that time. But because of the character that God has been cultivating in me for the past two years, especially, my will has been taught to bow to righteousness. In any circumstance. And so, I refused to take the praise or show off that medal until I had completed that 21km – as painful as it was. As delayed as it was. As hard as it was to do the other half alone, I did it.

Having a teachable spirit is nothing but a Grace thing! It builds your character and it is tied to your integrity. When God starts working on your character, it is not easy. It is a messy process, but when you’re on the other side, you will not even stand for selling yourself short. And that is what I did on Sunday. I refused to sell myself short. I refused to take an easier route. I refused to celebrate based on a lie. And most times, that’s all it is – choosing that which is harder but more rewarding at the end. A teachable spirit refuses to thrive on lies and it listens to good counsel. For me, good counsel was God and my friend, who encouraged me to run what was remaining while he waited. I hope you may honour the voice of the Holy Spirit when it tells you to refrain or to do something, but I hope more than anything that you will never ignore the voice of God, which speaks through the people who guide, correct and nurture you. You’re being established for better!

See you soon, as we reflect on the journey that has led me here.

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  • Lwazi Dekeda

    Awesome article Sima.

    Indeed humility is a big part of learning. We can never come to a point where we know it all, as long as we are in this world.

    Jesus left us with the Holy Spirit, to teach us all things – John 14:26. Let us be teachable then. Being teachable creates enough room for us to receive more teaching. No one wants to share wisdom with ‘a know it all’. Whats the point?

    We must also be mindful that life lessons come from all directions (top down, down up and horizontally), so we must be constantly aware of this.

    I have also discovered, having been married for 12 years, that understanding this principle is critical in the context of marriage.

    When we are open to constructive criticism, from our spouses, we can actually create for ourselves our own life coach – who is free of charge.

    This arrangement is good for personal growth and the growth of the marriage aswell.

    This however demands courage, from husbands especially, as it requires them to step out of societal patriarchal conditioning and egotism.

    Thanks once again.

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