Wednesday, November 18, 2009


". . . if it is teaching, let him teach."  (Romans 12:7b, NIV)

The Motivational Gift of Teaching is a bit different than some of the other gifts because it's a little more quiet.  By "quiet" I mean that you probably won't run the risk of becoming a workaholic and neglecting your family like with the gift of Serving; and, you probably won't make people mad like with the gift of Prophecy.  There are a couple of things to watch out for with this gift, however.  1) You do run the risk of boring your listeners to death with all your knowledge -- too thorough, too detailed, concept beat to death, class overwhelmed with too much information and everyone bored.  And that is truly one of the difficult things about this gift, the possibility of being a real bore.  2) More importantly, this gift comes with a hefty warning from God.  "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more harshly." (James 3:1, NIV)   It is a highly important gift because it aides in helping the church to understand God's word correctly.  This gift is meant to help bring God's word to life, to help clarify the truth found in Scripture and to do so without compromising the mystery and integrity that lies within the life-giving, life-changing pages of the Bible.

If you scored high in the Motivational Gift of Teaching here's a few things you might recognize about yourself.  You love God's word and it drives you crazy when a verse is taken out of context and used incorrectly or paraphrased to the point of losing it's proper meaning and application.  You love to study and research a word, a passage or a concept from the Bible and see how it works in to the rest of God's word.  You feel comfortable behind a podium.  You would never consider teaching on anything unprepared.  In fact, you over prepare.  You want what you teach to be clear, concise and understandable to your listeners.  This is also your greatest fault.  You can beat a concept to death.  You can become so detailed in your explanation and application that you lose your listeners.  You can monopolize the conversation in an effort to get your point across.  As I mentioned earlier, you can become a bore.  (Sorry.)  I know because this is my gift and I've been there.  Now, those who know me probably would not say that I monopolize a conversation, but that's only due to the fact that I'm fairly introverted and a little shy.  My problem comes when I write.  I've been told that what I write is too long (I believe the term was "long-winded") and that I run the risk of losing the interest of my readers.  The problem isn't writing about my subject.  The problem is going back through and knowing what to chop out because it ALL SEEMS SOOOO IMPORTANT!  The comfort zone of teaching will vary from person to person.  You might enjoy one on one time as opposed to a classroom full of students or you might love a lecture hall where you can have undivided attention from people who want to hear everything you have to say on a subject.  Or, you might love the quiet work of writing.  Personally, I love a classroom and a podium (provided I am thoroughly prepared), but I have most recently found a love for writing Bible studies.

A friend of mine who clearly exhibits the Motivational Gift of Teaching is a lovely, loving, warm and highly intelligent person who is always thorough in her subject matter and I can count on her to give me a clearer understanding of the topic than I had before.  She has one problem, though: when she invites questions during her teaching time it is always towards the very end of the class time after she has realized she has (and apologized for) taking up too much time.  Then, when a question is presented she spends what little time is left and beyond addressing it and leaving no time for anyone else.  This is simply due to the fact that she has spent so much of the class time making sure the material is understood . . . thoroughly . . . from every angle.  Again, I've been guilty myself.  This is clearly an example of what not to do.  The person with this gift, however, has the incredible opportunity to make a huge difference in his/her listeners just by establishing a few simple classroom rules and learning a few simple teaching techniques.

Although it varies from person to person, some other things common to those with this gift is a love to read and a love for charts, graphs and lists.  You will probably find yourself questioning others who try to teach you and pick apart their theology.  It's possible that you love the research more than the teaching but teach you must because nobody else will teach it is well as you.  The telling of any account must be factual and not exaggerated.  You are concerned for the truth of God's word and once convinced of the truth you are not easily swayed.  You are more apt to want to help build up believers than to help make new believers.  In other words, you typically do not enjoy evangelism.  You would rather teach Discipleship 101 to new believers than to share your faith with someone who is not a believer.  Don't worry.  This does not make you heartless.  It's not that you don't want to see people get saved.  On the contrary, you want those who love evangelism to evangelize so that you can fill up your Discipleship 101 class with new believers and help them on their way to deeper truth.

Let's look at an example from Scripture: Luke, the quintessential teacher.  The Book of Luke is the longest of the four gospels.  Luke wrote his gospel so that the full truth might be made known.  "Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught." (Luke 1:3-4, NIV)  I don't know about you, but I can just feel Luke's need to make sure that a factual account was being given.  He is oozing with accuracy in the telling of his account, plus he carefully investigated it.  Bless his heart.  He made sure that no important facts were being left out or exaggerated causing the account to lose credibility.  He researched it, told it straight, backed it up.  It was very important for Luke (a physician by trade) to include as many facts as possible, and so his account is longer than the accounts of Matthew, Mark and John.  Plus, we also give him credit for the writing of the Book of Acts which is a thoroughly informative account of the formation of the early church.

Now . . . about that warning.  Some things cannot be known.  Regarding some concepts, no amount of research is going to give you an answer.  Just because you have this gift doesn't make you 100% correct about everything.  In Matthew 23, Jesus severely judges the Pharisees and teachers of the Law for not handling God's word correctly.  He accuses them of keeping His people from finding Him -- the very thing they were supposed to do.  They were haughty with knowledge and pious without understanding of the spiritual disciplines of grace, mercy, forgiveness, compassion and love, to say the least.  Micah 6:8 is applicable here for the teacher: "He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  Look to and trust the Spirit of Truth who "will guide you into all truth!" (John 16:13)  So, do not be afraid to teach for teach you must, but do your homework and walk humbly.  A little trepidation is healthy.  It is no small thing to handle the Word of God.

If you scored high in the Motivational Gift of Teaching, here's what you need to do.  First, learn to recognize when you have monopolized the time and/or conversation, but, more importantly, learn to avoid it in the first place.  In a lecture style environment this is fine, but in a Bible study or Sunday school class it's not so fine.  People want to be invited to add their own thoughts and questions to the mix.  Learn to listen as well as you talk.  Be willing, in fact, be expecting to learn from your students.  (Remember: humbly.)  Second, create a learning environment wherein your students feel free to share and are safe from ridicule.  Establishing some classroom rules like, "Everybody has a voice here," and "There are no dumb questions," make it easy for you and your students to learn.  It's more important for your students to find their own way to the truth than it is for you to share all the minutia of detail on your subject, so create a joyful and safe path for them to do so.  Students will learn better if they can figure some things out for themselves.  Third, keep it simple.  If you are the kind of teacher that LOVES research and needs answers then know this: some questions are unanswerable, some topics are going to be controversial, and some people are going to remain unconvinced.  By all means glean all the information your little heart desires on a subject but do not expect everyone else to be as interested or as convinced as you.  Being too detailed and too technical is no way to influence your listeners.  Accuracy is good but not to the point that you are dwelling on the trivial.  Fourth, you must leave room for the mystery of God.  Mystery begs for the space to just be -- to just mysteriously be enjoyed -- to remain a mystery, and God is FULL of mystery!


NOTE:  The description of each gift is based on the highest score possible for an individual.  You may find that only certain things are true for you and the rest is only true to a certain measure.  We are individuals created by an infinitely creative God.  We do not fit any certain mold.  These descriptions help you to understand why you see things a certain way, why you act a certain way and why some things are more important to you than other things.  Most of us will score fairly high in 2 or 3 gifts and how these gifts rank and what God has you involved in at the time will determine how well these gift descriptions speak to your individual personality.


Annie Schrader said...

Good one!

sarahbri said...

Definitely a good one. And I think it's pretty obvious this is your gift :)

Amber said...

I can't believe you called me boring! :) I'm like you--a teacher but with a shy/introverted bent, so I like to express this gift through writing--especially Bible studies.

I can relate to so much of what you said. I work so hard not to be the Hermione at Bible study who always has her hand up--but it is a very conscious and continual struggle.

I also LOVE Luke because he is such a journalist and a writer and a researcher. I'd never thought of it in this light.

So when will you write on Exhortation?! :)

Kerry said...

Amber, thank you for your comments. Exhortation is next!