How can you tell if you have the gift of teaching? Previously, we established that a teacher is not a gift and that the “gift of teaching” is a combination of several gifts that give one the ability to teach from Scripture. However, to keep things simple, I will refer to teaching as a gift because it is a blessing (a gift) God has given to certain people to edify the church.
Teachers usually have the spiritual gifts of prophecy, exhortation, wisdom, knowledge, and discernment. These gifts help them to expound on the Scriptures and, in turn, help the church grow.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV
What is the Gift of Teaching?
The word “dividing” in Greek is orthotomeō. Orthos means “straight, right, or proper,” and temno means “to cut.” Those that teach “cut” the Scriptures properly. In other words, those with the gift of teaching will stay straight and true to God’s Word. They will not veer from the truth to appease those around them with differing opinions. They will stay focused on context. They will not take one verse and try to make it mean something else.
Teachers will not base their Bible studies on revelations, visions, “words of knowledge,” or dreams from God. Especially if those revelations, visions, etc., can’t be backed up with Scripture. Unfortunately, this is a big problem with many celebrity preachers today. Particularly in the Word of Faith movement and the New Apostolic Reformation movement. Both of these groups rely heavily on their “revelations” from God over what the Bible says. A good teacher will keep the Word of God in context. They will consider the whole Word of God as counsel when expounding on a particular subject. They do this because Scripture does not contradict Scripture.
Characteristics of a Teacher
Those who teach will often find themselves digging deeper into Scripture and will not be satisfied with meditating only on daily devotionals. They want “meat” and will do everything in their power to find those moments in the day when they can spend time in the Word of God. They will often spend hours (sometimes days) preparing lessons because they are cautious with what they teach and how they teach it. Teachers come alive when they can share what God is showing them.
Regarding school teachers vs. Bible teachers, the gift of teaching is not related to the gifts school teachers have. Many talented school teachers have a knack for getting their message across to students. However, you may find those same teachers often flounder when put in the position of teaching the Bible. School teachers cannot accurately interpret the Scriptures unless they have been given the spiritual gifts of exhortation, discernment, wisdom, knowledge, and prophecy.
I learned of a teacher who experienced pressure from her church’s elders to teach Sunday school. They assumed she would be a great “fit” because she taught the age group in which they were trying to place her. But she felt called to serve in different ways—as a greeter, in the kitchen, or in the nursery, tending to little ones. She had the spiritual gift of helps and hospitality. Not teaching.
School Teachers Vs. Bible Teachers
When she knew it was her turn to serve coffee in the kitchen, she came alive! She loved to pour someone a cup of coffee or tea on Sundays and talk to them. Especially if they were new to the church. She also served as a greeter. Her gifts of hospitality and helps fit right in with these types of service.
However, someone convinced her that she should be teaching Sunday school because she was a teacher. In fact, they made her feel guilty for not serving that way in her church. So she agreed to serve as a Sunday school teacher but soon became miserable. She wasn’t happy teaching all week and then having to prepare more lessons for Sunday. She was frustrated, tired, and sad.
Where once Sunday was her day of rest and a day to exercise her spiritual gifts, she soon dreaded attending church. It felt like work to her, and she had no joy in serving the Lord in this manner. She was on the verge of quitting church altogether when she took a course on Spiritual Gifts and realized (with shock) that she did not have the gift of teaching. She laughed with irony at the thought and, after much prayer and discussion with friends, went back to serving coffee as a Greeter.
If you are a school teacher and don’t feel comfortable teaching Sunday school or Bible studies, it is likely because God has not called you to lead that way. Don’t let those who think they know best try to convince you otherwise. However, if you are a school teacher who has also been given the “gifts of teaching,” you have (in my humble opinion) been doubly blessed. What a rare treat it would be to have you as a teacher!