What is the spiritual gift of teaching?

Understanding the spiritual gift of teaching

3 min

A Christian’s motivational spiritual gift represents what God does in him to shape his perspective on life and motivate his words and actions. Romans 12:3–8 describes “basic motivations,” which are characterized by inherent qualities or abilities within a believer—the Creator’s unique workmanship in him or her.

Through the motivational gifts, God makes believers aware of needs that He wants to meet through them, for His glory. Then, believers can minister to others through the ministry and manifestation gifts of the Spirit, in ways beyond mere human capability and ingenuity, with maximum effectiveness and minimum weariness.

Each person’s behavior will vary according to factors such as temperament, background, age, gender, culture, and circumstances. However, it is not unusual for individuals who share the same motivational gift to demonstrate common characteristics. Below are some general characteristics that are typically exhibited by those who have the motivational gift of teaching.

General Characteristics

A teacher’s basic motivational drive is to discover and validate truth. Teachers are very sensitive to doctrinal integrity, they have great research skills, and they are sincere.

  • Christians who have the gift of teaching search for truth.
  • Teachers study diligently, “sifting through” the Scriptures as an archaeologist would carefully sift through artifacts from past civilizations, hoping to find answers to numerous questions.
  • A teacher’s passion to discover and validate truth is commendable, but he must not become so focused on his mission that he loses balance in his perspective about his role.
  • Teachers help keep the Church focused on truth. They are alert to false doctrine and do not honor experience over the authority of Scripture.
  • A teacher instinctively questions anything that seems inaccurate, and usually that doubt motivates him to search out the answers needed to establish truth.

A Teacher’s Strengths

  • A teacher carries out research to gain information and insights. He views Bible study primarily as an academic activity with a spiritual benefit, rather than a spiritual activity with an academic benefit.
  • He is passionate about correcting error before it leads to apostasy.
  • A teacher receives special delight in uncovering facts or insights that others have either overlooked or considered insignificant.
  • A teacher places a great deal of emphasis on original language—the original words used and their meanings.
  • Usually, an individual with this motivational gift is not hesitant to challenge statements made or ideas presented by other teachers. This is an example of “iron sharpening iron” (see Proverbs 27:17), which is a positive outcome of the teacher’s passion for verifying information.
  • Teachers have excellent study habits, including orderly investigation and the ability to document information in an organized manner. They are usually neither sloppy nor slothful when it comes to research.
  • Although the teacher’s passion is to prove that facts are either true or false, he usually receives far more satisfaction from his research than he does from presenting what he has discovered in his research.
  • Teachers are known to faithfully study the Word of God, because researching truth is a source of great joy for them. Unlike many of the rest of us, who must work hard to set aside time to study the Bible, the teacher often has to work hard to quit studying long enough to carry out other necessities of life! For example, many believers with this motivational gift would much rather research a topic than do their laundry, entertain guests, fix their meals, or go shopping for basic needs.
  • A teacher solves problems by studying more.
  • The person with the gift of teaching is diligent, steadfast, and sincere.

A Teacher’s Weaknesses

  • A teacher may be tempted to equate or confuse knowledge with wisdom. Knowledge is information; wisdom is seeing life from God’s perspective. The two are neither equivalent nor worthy of the same esteem.
  • Teachers tend to be exclusive, preferring to limit their interaction and support to individuals or groups who share their doctrinal beliefs. Their concentration on facts rather than people sometimes makes them appear to be cold or insensitive.
  • Teachers can harbor disdain toward instructors who use illustrations to get attention rather than to illustrate truth in a meaningful, memorable manner. They can easily reject unbiblical illustrations, condemning them as irrelevant and distracting.
  • A teacher, more than most of us, can be tempted to be content with having accurate knowledge and be uninterested in taking the next step: application of that knowledge.
  • Because a teacher is able to accumulate knowledge skillfully and apparently with ease, he can easily be tempted to be prideful and have a condescending attitude toward others who do not demonstrate these gifts.
  • A teacher’s quest for truth, which motivates him to constantly question (what seems like everything) often earns him the reputation of being a critical, negative person.
  • Teachers are often impractical, analytical, and unemotional. They tend to not be very interested in social activities and consequently may be regarded as a snobbish or selfish person. Enthusiasm is seldom a strength of a person with this gift.
  • Teachers have a tendency to give you more information than you asked for. They can easily be boring, since their hearers are not nearly as interested in the details as they are.
Explore more about this topic in Understanding Spiritual Gifts

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