How can you know whether you have the gift of teaching?
The Apostle Paul writes more about the gifts of the Spirit than any other author in the Bible, so he is the best source for finding out what the spiritual gifts are and what their purpose is. Another good question is, “How can I know what my spiritual gift is? Do I have more than one gift?” The answer to the second question is likely yes, because I know several people who have at least two observable gifts of the Spirit, if not more, so where can you find Scriptures that tell us what these gifts are?
In Romans 12:6-8, you’ll find Paul writing about the gift of prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, leadership, and mercy. These gifts all function for the betterment of the church. They are not for the individual to use on their own behalf. They are intended for the equipping and building up of the church. God uses these gifts in believers to do what Jesus would do if He were here on earth. Things like feeding the hungry, helping the poor, visiting the sick and those in prison, and being hospitable, even to strangers (Matt 25:35-36, 28:18-20, James 1:27). It is not that we do these things to be seen by others, but we do these things as unto Jesus Himself (Matt 25:40). The idea that we do nothing for Christ here on earth, and still believe we are saved, is contrary to biblical doctrine (James 2:14-26). If a person is not doing any works that have been prescribed by Christ, then there is probably no salvation in that person’s life. Doing nothing for Christ is a foreboding sign (Matt 25:41-46). Of course, many people will do a lot of good works, but if they are doing them with the idea that they’re a good person and they can make it to heaven, is anathema to the gospel (Eph 2:8-9). If they think their good works will be enough, Jesus will declare their works as evil. Many will say “Lord, Lord,” but these same many who profess to know Christ, are unknown by Him…and that’s what matters most. It’s not, “Do you know Jesus,” but “Does He know you (Matt 7:21-23) that matters most!
1 Corinthians 12:8-10
Paul adds to the list of spiritual gifts in this section of Scripture, referring to a word of wisdom, a word of knowledge, faith, the gift of healings, miracles, prophecies (repeated from Rom 12:6-8), discernment (distinguishing between spirits), tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. Again, these gifts are not for “Look what my gift is,” but “How can my gift help the church and others?” The gifts listed in 1 Corinthians are also intended to build up and equip the church to do what Jesus has called them to do. As the Head of the church, Jesus directs, governs, rules and reigns over His church. Part of what He does is to have each body member function as He wills it to function. When the Body of Christ functions as He intends for it to function, God may bring growth to the church (Acts 2:47).
1 Corinthians 12:28
Near the end of 1 Corinthians 12, Paul gives a list, not so much of gifts, but of offices. He writes, “God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues” (1 Cor 12:28). God has appointed or dispensed both offices and spiritual gifts. This is an overriding theme of Paul’s writings. In this same chapter, Paul writes that “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose” (1 Cor 12:18). This choice is never left to us. No apostle or prophet was ever called by the will of man. No apostle or prophet ever decided to become one of their own free will. In fact, in most cases, they resisted the call. If God has not called a person to an office (pastor, teacher, etc.), they are not qualified for that position. God is the One Who “has appointed in the church” (1 Cor 12:28) those who He sees fit for a particular office, and it is “as he chose.” In both the spiritual gifts and offices, we see God does the choosing, but often He does use human instruments to do so (i.e. the local church).
The Gift of Teaching
How can you know whether you have the gift of teaching? Sometimes people confirm that gift for you. You are often hungry to learn as much as you can about a certain subject or event in the Bible. You can’t get enough of it. You may be surrounded by Bible Atlases, concordances, Bible dictionaries, and other study aids. You rejoice when you’ve learned something new. If you’re not sure if you have the gift of teaching, ask for an opportunity to teach a Sunday school class or begin your own in-home Bible study group. For sure, be in a class if you can’t teach it. Maybe you can offer to be put on the substitute teacher list, and when opportunity comes, you’ll have a better idea. If God has given you the gift of teaching, He will make a way for you to do that. God would not equip a person if He did not intend to use that gift for the local church. If you sense that you are able to explain biblical doctrines or answer difficult questions, then you may have the gift of teaching. You will also recognize the times when you say, “I don’t know.” That’s okay. At other times you recognize that if the Bible is silent on something, we must be, because it’s dangerous to speculate where the Bible is not specific or is silent. If the Bible is not clear on something, it’s God telling us, “It’s none of our business!”
Is it your desire to serve God by making clear the truth of God’s Word to anyone that would ask you, and to do so with accuracy and simplicity? If you find yourself clarifying and explaining the doctrines and teachings of the Bible to someone, you may be a teacher. Teachers go deeper in their explanations…teachers ask questions rather than give the answers to their students…teachers can explain interpretation, translation, or transliteration questions better than the average believer can. If the highlight of your week is a Sunday school lesson, Wednesday night Bible study, or other learning opportunity, you may have the gift of teaching. You will have a deep hunger to always know more…to dig deeper, and to have the ability to explain the difficult in an easy to understand manner. In time, you will know…and you will have little doubt that God has called you to teach…and nothing can stop that burning desire in your heart.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Christian Crier or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.