The Gift of Teaching
Where would we be without teachers?
We don’t come out of the womb knowing all there is to know. Therefore, we require teachers who are willing and able to share their knowledge with us.
I can remember some of my favorite teachers from grade school like Mrs. Lamm, Mrs. Ruffin, and Mr. Dowdy. I especially cherish some of my college professors who still teach me to this day, in some sense. I think of Dr. Willmington, Dr. Adams, and Dr. McClendon.
But we don’t only need teachers in school. We need teachers in the church.
We need church teachers, such as pastors or community group leaders, who have the ability to communicate God’s word in a way that everyone can understand. That’s why the Holy Spirit has given some believers the spiritual gift of teaching.
Understanding the Gift of Teaching
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. – Romans 12:6-8
The Greek word for “teach” is didaskalos, which means “to instruct.”
We have all had teachers in our lives. And we can all tell the difference between those teachers who have the talent for teaching and those who do not. However, just because someone has a knack for teaching, it doesn’t mean they have the spiritual gift of teaching.
The Holy Spirit gives the spiritual gift of teaching for the purpose of teaching God’s Word.
Gene Wilkes explains, “Teaching is instructing members in the truths and doctrines of God’s Word for the purposes of building up, unifying, and maturing the body.”
Those with this gift have the ability to understand God’s Word and share its meaning, context, and application to believers.
Got Questions explains, “One without this gift can understand the Bible as he hears or reads it, but he cannot explain it as one with the gift can. Although it can be developed, the spiritual gift of teaching is not something that can be learned or acquired, as with a college degree. A person with a Ph.D. but without the gift of teaching will not be able to expound the Bible as one without a degree but having the gift of teaching.”
What the Gift of Teaching Looks Like
Unlike other forms of teaching, the spiritual gift of teaching is specific to God’s Word.
According to Spiritual Gifts Test, “Those with the spiritual gift of teaching love to study the Word of God for extended periods of time. They consume the Scriptures as food for their hearts, souls and minds with the expressed purpose of knowing Him and then making Him known to others. They want to know what God has revealed of Himself and what He requires of us as people created in His image. They take great joy and satisfaction in seeing others learn and apply the truth of God’s Word to their lives. They love to see how the Gospel is woven throughout the Scriptures and how it glorifies and magnifies Jesus Christ in the hearts and lives of those who love Him by grace.”
Those with the spiritual gift of teaching are passionate about God’s Word. They long to share His truth with others and are upset when scriptures are misused.
That last part especially applies to me. If you know me personally, you won’t even need me to say that. Nothing bothers me quite like the scriptures being mistaught or mishandled. I don’t mean a simple difference of interpretation. I mean an outright abuse of the scripture – that makes my stomach curl up in a knot.
How the Gift of Teaching Serves the Church
And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. – 1 Corinthians 12:28
Those with the spiritual gift of teaching help the church stay focused on God’s truth rather than getting caught up in passing fads or untruths.
They enable fellow believers to grow in wisdom and knowledge.
While pastors generally have the spiritual gift of teaching, other believers also have this spiritual gift. You may find these individuals leading small groups or Bible studies. They may be teaching children’s church or Sunday school. They may be teaching in colleges or seminaries.
The distinguishing gift trait is that these individuals have a strong desire to understand God’s word so they can know him and make Him known to others.
How to Tell If You Have the Gift of Teaching
Many people aren’t aware they have the spiritual gift of teaching until someone else acknowledges it. They know they have a strong passion for reading and studying the Bible, but they may not have recognized their gift for sharing what they have learned with others.
They often discover they have this spiritual gift when they have a small teaching opportunity, such as leading a small group one evening and getting a positive response.
It’s important to understand that even though you may have the ability or capacity to teach, you may not have this spiritual gifting. And that’s okay! The Holy Spirit gives each believer a spiritual gift. If your gift is not teaching, it may be leadership or serving.
If you agree strongly with the following statements from the Spiritual Gifts Discovery Instruction Guide, you may have the gift of teaching.
- I have the ability to study a passage of scripture thoroughly and to share it with others.
- When a question arises from a difficult Bible passage, I am motivated to research the answer.
- Others listen and enjoy my teaching of scriptures.
- I am organized in my thinking and systematic in my approach to presenting Bible lessons to a group of people.
- I am filled with joy when I see others apply God’s truth to their lives.
- I prefer teaching God’s word to believers to help them mature in their faith.