I don’t believe that for a second.
Forty-five years of training Bible study leaders, both in the classroom and one-to-one, have convinced me that you cannot put out what God’s Spirit has not put within. There is a spiritual gift of teaching, and not every believer has it. Not even a seminary degree and position of a senior pastor guarantees the presence of this gifting.
What is the spiritual gift of teaching?
Whether the venue is formal or informal, it’s the ability to explain God’s Word in clear, learnable form. It’s the capacity to simplify timeless truths without being superficial. One doesn’t walk away from a sermon or lesson conveyed by a gifted teacher confused about what a text means or how it applies.
Classes, seminars, and books on teaching hone a gift and maximize its efficacy, but no resource outside of God’s Spirit can instill the gift.
How can you tell if you or someone you’re discipling has the gift of teaching? Allow the following questions to spur your thinking.
1. Have you volunteered for teaching opportunities in your church?
Awareness of a skill gift emerges from activity. Strive to meet needs in your church and show willingness to experiment in the classroom, and God’s Spirit will confirm whether it’s a context for long-term ministry. Waiting to determine if you have the gift of teaching before volunteering is putting the proverbial cart before the horse.
2. When you’ve taught, have you received favorable feedback from folks you believe were being honest with you?
The gift of teaching is recognizable. An especially good indicator is if the positive responses come from older, mature Christians or persons with experience in vocational ministry.
3. When you’ve received teacher or homiletical training, has your progress been evident?
Persons who’ve received this gift from the Spirit flourish with effective training. Persons without this gifting of the Spirit won’t make a lot of progress when it comes to the all-important trait of clarity.
4. Do you enjoy studying God’s Word and identifying timeless truths from its pages?
Though not glamorous, the preparation phase is integral to sound and clear teaching. Fred Smith heard a Bible teacher say, “I love teaching. It’s preparation that I can’t stand!” Smith, turned off by the statement, wondered aloud if the man was a communicator, or an exhibitionist.
5. Has your teaching had a noticeable effect on others?
I’m aware that the effect of a lesson or sermon on one’s heart can be difficult to measure. Yet over time, effect on others should be observable, or at least verbalized by them.
As a result of your teaching, have you ever known someone who came to Christ? Who made things right with another believer? Who got involved in ministry for the first time? Who started giving more money to Kingdom business? Who cultivated more of a quiet time? Who changed his schedule to spend more time with his wife and kids?
The Holy Spirit uses gifted teachers to reach the hearts and hands of people, not just their heads.
6. Is communicating God’s Word a deep-seated burden inside you?
Is teaching Bible something that you can’t not do? Does teaching leave you with an irrepressible impression that says, “I was made for this!”?
We’ve already concluded that you need others’ confirmation of your spiritual gift of teaching. Yet we can’t neglect the inner testimony of God’s Spirit or your own passion for communicating the Bible.
Be on the lookout for the young men and women who are the potential Bible teachers for the next generation. Do you know anyone with whom you can share this post?
To help someone determine if he or she has the spiritual gift of teaching, what questions would you add?