Dr. Stephen Phinney
OCCUPATIONAL GIFTS | TEACHING
It didn't take long to realize that a teaching gift was not one of my giftsets. Early on in my ministry, I was one of those teachers who was unclear, unorganized, and difficult to understand. While this became a challenge for my listeners and readers, I had to find a solution.
The solution was found in replicating the modalities of those who had such a gift through being empowered by the Spirit from within. The training curve became long and tedious. Thanks to Christ's mind, and my partnership with MindTools, I slowly mastered the art of teaching. So much so I was awarded one of the top ten online teachers. While I was a bit shocked to receive the award, I realized the Lord's investment in me via the Holy Spirit and my hard work; paid off in the end.
It's important to take a systematic approach to teaching, given the wide range of listeners, readers, and communication modalities, such as emails, sermon prep, presentations, and other written and spoken forms in delivering God’s Word. When you realize you didn’t get the gift of teaching as a primary gift, seek to master the structure a quality teacher makes use of. In this, you will discover success.
As for those blessed with this gift, you are a rare breed. You write, facilitate meetings, participate in generalized communications, create reports, devise well-organized presentations, make your points clear to readers/listeners – all with the clarity of the mind of Jesus. Each of you helps the rest of us understand what the Word of God is communicating.
This gift gives a special ability to communicate the Word of God in such a way that it is organized, and the Body of Christ learns easily.
Christians with this gift have an overwhelming desire to explain the Truth to those around them. A prophet declares Truth, while a teacher logically explains it. Often, prophets and teachers do not get along, although prophets and teachers make great working partners in God's eyes. Teachers are annoyed by prophets due to the prophets’ lack of explaining the practical details of the stated Truth. Prophets tend to be irritated by teachers due to the teacher not emphasizing the Truth with a punch. However, the gifting of both is what brings balance TO the Truth. My modality is:
SEND IN >> The Prophet >> Then the Evangelist >> The Teacher >> Then the Exhorter >> Finally the Mercy People
While most listeners/readers expect all Biblical communicators to exercise all the occupational gifts when communicating, this is a misnomer. Furthermore, it is forcing the communicator to have a divided mind. As with all the occupational gifts, each member needs to focus on what they are ordained to do - announce prophecy, evangelize, teach, exhort others, or pour the oil of mercy over the wounds of applied Truth.
Teachers are interested in searching things out. They love details and, better yet, love presenting their uncovered details. Teachers love to study and usually encourage others to be men/women of the Word. Even though this is an error, many times, they think that education equals transformation by studying the Word of God. At times, forget that transformation only comes through the Spirit.
The gift of teaching is mentioned in all three scriptural references regarding spiritual gifts: Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. This gift is needed for most areas within the local church and the church worldwide, for example, the Sunday morning message, Sunday school, special electives, children's church, day-care, training classes, the music ministry, and many others. Scripture often confirms that many-body members receive this gift, minimally Christ manifests Himself through this gift.
Another known fact. People who have the gift of teaching often use their gifts as an occupation: schoolteacher, professors, learning institutes, sales education, etc. Indwelt Christians who have the gift and practice it in secular markets tend to be afraid to use their gift to advance the Gospel. Primarily due to their fear of misinterpreting the Word of God.
Teachers are normally patient with their students. They like to come up with new ideas on how to reach their students and to help them better understand what is being taught. Although many modern teachers shy away from using digital technology to advance their craft, they are afraid to teach outside the box in which they were trained.
God uses the teachers to communicate His day-to-day living elements (Ephesians 4:11). They are often seen as pastors, motivational speakers, or trainers. Many people with the gift of teaching think they are pastors or minimally function as a pastor. As we will learn later in this study, pastors are a different breed in how they care for people.
Commonly, teachers have a difficult time establishing and maintaining friendships. They tend to find intimacy and friendship mainly with their students or those supporting their teaching role. It is difficult for them to branch out to have friendships with those NOT related to their calling. Many teachers feel awkward around non-educated people, often projecting an attitude of arrogance to the ignorant. Not all, but many, avoid the “lowly” people who are not privileged in education – like “street people.” When they walk after their flesh, they tend to be too high-minded in knowledge, fully knowing the “lowly” cannot connect to their intellect. When fronted with this weakness, their analytical thinking blocks them from seeing the obvious. The bottom line is they are too serious, arrogant, high-minded, critical, contemplative, often judgmental, and moody when walking after their flesh. People trying to establish relationships with them tend to get frustrated unless they are their students. When they are with the teacher, the teacher communicates by teaching or gossiping. Many teachers do not know the difference between teaching and communicating their personhood with others.
Teachers tend to be bothered by "shallow" thinkers, people who state things that are not supported by the documented Truth, people who do not present Truth in an organized fashion, or do not prepare properly before they teach. Therefore, a teacher often has difficulty relating to prophets, mercy people, evangelists, or any gifted type who hears the Truth directly from God.
Members who have this gift typically “grow in Christ” through knowledge. Many complain they do not hear the voice of God/Christ from within. If it isn’t on a page, they tend to dismiss it. The irony of this further advances their presentation of being high-minded and arrogant. While many have mastered the balance of hearing God AND studying the Word, if walking after their flesh, they classically appear to be detached from the indwelling Life of Christ. Leaving observers to question their salvation.
Believe it or not, teachers often have a problem with authority because they believe what they are saying is the authoritative way. Honestly, I have met few teachers who do NOT have authority issues. While most expect their students to honor their authority, it isn't easy to hold the teacher accountable to their superiors. When addressing this ideation, the teacher is quick to fall into gossip or resistive silence. Meaning they are quick to see authority issues downline but slow to see their rebellion upline.
The lion’s share of teachers' hates being put on the spot to do spontaneous presentations, sermons, public speaking, or answer questions within a group format. They prefer to be given time to prepare. This weakness reveals that their flesh tends to be a puppet of sorts – learn it first, then present what has been memorized or learned.
Teachers who live in the private world of their own minds are usually the quietest people in a group gathering until they are “turned on” to a topic familiar from previous studies. The fleshly reasoning is that they do not want to appear “stupid” or unknowing.
Teachers need to remember to rest in Christ, focus on building their existing relationships, build new friendships, ask more questions of people they wish to communicate with, allow for more group discussions, and spend more time being practical (application). Overall, the teacher needs to be more fun-loving, light-hearted, and animated.
A most common excuse to correction: Well, that is how I am. Either accept me or move on. Honestly, we are never called to accept the fleshly ideations of others. While we ARE called to accept the person, we can refute their flesh Biblically.
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