Better Late Than Never is a hilarious “reality” television show chronicling the travels and antics of celebrities William Shatner, George Foreman, Henry Winkler, Terry Bradshaw, and funny man Jeff Dye. In a recent episode, the group gave William Shatner a hard time for seemingly knowing everything about everything. Winkler called Shatner a know-it-all. Shatner replied laughing, “I’m not a know-it-all…I’m a know-a-lot-a.”
The laugh out loud moment underscores an important principle for our lives, especially our spiritual growth. Too many believers, as they grow up in the faith, begin to act just like adolescents knowing everything and no longer respecting and receiving from the adults entrusted with their care and development. They sound a lot like a know-it-all forgetting that being correctable and teachable are keys to breaking out of adolescence to become a steady, mature, and productive adult in the faith. The day we stop receiving is the day we stop growing.
It reminds me of a man in the Bible named Gehazi. Gehazi was the servant of the prophet Elisha who was the servant of the prophet Elijah. Elisha followed and learned from his mentor Elijah and received a double-portion of his anointing. Elisha would go on to do great things just like his father in the faith Elijah. But somewhere along the way of Gehazi’s training and development, he began to reject Elisha’s influence, guidance, and instruction. The day Naaman was healed of leprosy, Gehazi wanted to receive a reward from the Assyrian general, but Elisha made it plain this was not a time to do so. Gehazi rejected the counsel of Elisha, took the goods and money from Naaman, and instead of enjoying an even greater anointing and ministry, became leprous himself. His future, his life, and his call were all compromised because he developed an unteachable spirit.
As growing believers, we should get to the place where we know a lot, but we should never get to the point where we know it all treating our fathers and mentors in the faith with contempt, and ignoring their counsel. I have found in working with hundreds of young converts and disciples over the years, the most dangerous stage of the seven stages of spiritual growth (newborn, infant, child, adolescent, young adult, adult, and senior adult) is the adolescent stage. Newborns need the milk of the Word, infants need great mercy and grace as they attempt to walk, children need strong doctrine to protect them from deception, adolescents need humility, young adults need faithfulness, adults need balance, and senior adults need to stay in the game. Like Gehazi, if a believer is going to wash out, they most often wash out at the adolescent level becoming stiff-necked and uncorrectable. Ironically, most adolescents don’t even discern that they are in fact adolescents in the faith.
Make up your mind you’re going to continue to grow at every stage and level of your spiritual development. Continue to learn, be used of God, and follow his path for your life, but do not allow yourself to become a could have been man or woman of God like Gehazi disqualified because you traded in your destiny for an adolescent chip on your shoulder. A few years back, a great man of God called his sons in the faith to a special meeting to correct certain doctrinal and behavioral issues in those that counted him as a spiritual father. One man refused to attend the meeting saying simply, “Let him teach what he wants and I’ll teach what I want.” You don’t hear much from that man these days for it seems his upward trajectory was compromised by his know-it-all attitude and disrespect for the man of God. Stay humble, teachable, gracious, and respectful. Become that know-a-lot-a without becoming a know-it-all.