Always A Student

One of my personality flaws is the need to be right all the time as well as the need to be the first person to tell others that I am right. I sometimes fashion myself as an expert on everything, yet never a master on one particular subject. When it comes to discussion, I know I come off as a “know-it-all”. I demand respect and honor because I know more than you.

Nothing turns people off faster than a pushy know-it-all. I know I’ve lost friends because of my attitude. What has helped me come to terms with my tendency to be a know-it-all is to recognize the same flaw in others. Please don’t think I’m nitpicking, but when you see others doing the same thing it magnifies your own arrogant tendencies.

What has helped me is the realization that I am always a student, never a master. Even when I teach others, I am still learning. I won’t have every answer. There’s something in saying “I don’t know” as an answer to a question that is totally satisfying. It makes me want to hit the books and find an answer. Sometimes the only answer is “I don’t know”.

I used to think answering questions with “I don’t know” was a sign of weakness. Now I see that answering questions that way is a sign of wanting to learn more, just as those who learn from me want to learn more. I’ve also learned rhetorical techniques to help me clarify questions and help the person asking the question sharpen up a vague question. In other words, I am learning to listen all over again! It’s not easy. But it’s necessary.

When I discuss theology or any other topic with people, I have to remind myself constantly that I am a student, not a master. Sure, I have an advanced professional degree. But that doesn’t mean I can lord it over people to the point where they must give in to my superior intelligence! It means I can use the gifts God has given me to help others learn as I learn.



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