The Teachable Moment

“Which of you is a wise and well-instructed man? Let him prove it by a right life with conduct guided by a wisely teachable spirit.” James 3:13 Weymouth Bible

According to James, the proof someone is a well-instructed wise man is a teachable spirit and right life. The Message Bible adds a practical dynamic when it translates this verse, “Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts.” The wise man realizes the teachable moment is for him and does not press it upon others. A well-instructed individual evaluates a situation and patiently weighs his response. Comment and judgment to the wise dictates patient consideration and assessment apart from impulse. If the moment demands quick judgment, the comportment of the wise is humble and slow to condemn. Well-instructed people look to values and rest opinions in measured responses.

The wise will not press the teachable moment upon others. Wisdom uses the teachable moment and focuses on self-evaluation. If the wise man fail, he admits his fault while refraining from defusing responsibility by sharing blame. Sadly, too often the pseudo-wise/well-instructed poses to be the wisest in the room, shamelessly shifting personal accountability while intimidating others to admit their failure. The pretender will say with confidence to self, “The teachable moment is for others and not for me. I am above its consequences.” “I was wrong” are words never heard from the pretender unless he discovers it works to his advantage. His attitude of superiority seeps through and deceives only self and others who indulge in platitudes and patronizing.

In conclusion, I like the way the Young’s Translation explains James 3:13, “Who [is] wise and intelligent among you? let him shew out of the good behaviour his works in meekness of wisdom.” “Intelligent” is more behavior than intellect. The teachable moment reveals just who the wise are! They talk less and do more. They chatter less and listen more. Cleverly crafted words are of less value to the teaching moment than excellent conduct. And the wise prove by good behavior of life that the teachable moment is theirs. Through understanding and meekness the well-instructed soul holds the key to success.

J. Robert Hanson

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