Last week I spoke at a gathering on the topic, “Teachable, the king of Character traits.” I said that the most important attribute to cultivate is being teachable, because if you are teachable you can learn whatever you need to learn.
I mentioned that you can fall into the trap of having “hardening of the categories” (as the late Howard Hendricks from Dallas Seminary used to call it) so that you cut yourself off from learning anything new or different; you only have black and white crayons in your Crayola box and no gray ones. It was John Wooden, the famous basketball coach from UCLA, who said: “It’s what you learn after you think you know it all that counts.” I want to be a life-long learner; willing to learn on any subject at any time from anyone.
But then today I was wondering if it’s possible to be too teachable, too open? This would be tantamount to taking a good thing to an extreme, so that it becomes a bad thing. Are some leaders so open to any and all ideas from whomever that they have few firm beliefs or convictions?
Such leaders may be what I would call “Convictional Wimps.” In an effort to be open to anyone’s and everyone’s ideas, suggestions or input, they don’t stand firm and strong on much of anything. They go with the flow even if the flow is not heading in a good and healthy direction. They lead by consensus not conviction and are quick to cave in order to not to rock the boat and keep everybody happy when they opposed or when there is strong pushback on their stance or idea.
Here, again, we have one of those tension points between being unmovable and movable. Of course leaders should be open, but not so open that they don’t have any firm and non-negotiable opinions about some things. I guess this is another way of being a people-pleaser. It reminds me of the story of the man who lived on the Mason-Dixon line when the civil war broke out. He was conflicted and couldn’t decide if he should fight for the north or the south, so he put on a blue top and a gray bottom and they shot at him from both sides.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see if you are perhaps becoming a “Convictional Wimp” and have become so open that your brain has fallen out and you are not thinking critically and biblically about some things that you should be more firm on.
What hill am I ready to die on?
What strong and unmovable biblical convictions do I hold that I will not be talked out of?
What position on a controversial issue will I stand firm on no matter how unpopular I may become with some people; even those on my team?
What job will I walk away from because the leader, group or organization I work with is consistently violating a core conviction I hold?
What line will I not cross no matter what somebody is willing to pay me?