Last week, I talked about the spiritual gift of Exhortation, which involves the ministry of instructing others of the fundamental, practical elements of discipleship. Related to that spiritual gift is another, the gift of Teaching. Teachers are not just people who take our children downstairs into classrooms for the first half of the service. They are people who love to learn, are constantly absorbing new information, and can synthesize all that they know into a medium that can be communicated and understood by others. In this way teachers are not just scholars (I suspect that many of us have encountered a “teacher” who was only just a scholar) but creators, mindful of the needs of others, and the role they play in a parish.
Teachers have a particularly important role in being part of the process of adapting new information into contemporary theological understanding, whether that new information is a greater understanding of the biblical era, modern day changes, or previously ignored perspectives. A good teacher is continually growing and evolving their own understanding as they seek to convey it to others.
As with all gifts, there are pitfalls, especially the aforementioned possibility of a person becoming more wrapped up in learning than being able to communicate to students. Like many gifts that have implicit elements of leadership, pride can also afflict a teacher. Great teachers approach their craft with humility and an appreciation for how critical their ministry is to the spiritual and theological life of a parish.
Yours in Christ,