Note: As we discuss the motivational gift of teacher, please remember: the teacher gift should not be confused with those who teach (whether in schools/universities/etc. or at our churches). The profession of teacher and the “act” of teaching are not the same thing as having the motivational gift of teacher. Can a motivational gift of teacher have the profession of teacher? Yes, of course! But someone who teaches could have any motivational gift. For example, the New Testament apostle Paul was an incredible teacher, but his motivational gift was exhorter. My focus on this blog will be on motivations, not professions.
I was waiting for my friend to arrive, and he was running late (as always). When he finally arrived, I said, “What happened? Why didn’t you call to say you were running late?” Instead of simply replying “Traffic,” my friend launched into a detailed report of his day, including what he ate for breakfast, his work schedule, and how his whole day went, ending with his late arrival. I shook my head and smiled. Arthur Burk calls this “cumulative reporting on a single issue,” and it is very characteristic of the motivational gift of teacher.
What does the motivational gift of teaching look like? A teacher’s basic motivational drive is to discover and validate truth, giving the teacher great research skills. They often study things diligently, giving attention to details and making sure statement are accurate. Teachers are passionate about correcting error and are steadfast, and sincere. Teachers are often mistaken for the gift of mercy in that they are safe for those who are wounded because they are not judgmental or critical. A teacher will listen carefully to the whole story and process before speaking—though their need to see the end of a process before starting something new can hinder their faith and walk with Christ.
Like the other gifts, teachers can have weaknesses, many of which arise from the accumulation of knowledge. Here are three areas of awareness for the teacher gift to consider:
- Knowledge vs. wisdom. “Knowledge is information; wisdom is seeing life from God’s perspective” (Gothard). Knowledge is not the same as wisdom, nor should a teacher compare the two. Someone with knowledge has information and facts; someone with wisdom can give practical application to truth. Teacher gifts should beware of confusing knowledge and wisdom but should strive for both, learning to apply what they know.
- Knowledge vs. intimacy. Teachers may seem cold and insensitive, which can create rifts between themselves and others. Teachers must work to be inclusive of others who may not share their doctrinal beliefs or love for knowledge. In addition, their task-oriented quest for knowledge may also hinder intimacy with God. Teachers must pursue a relationship with their Father by being diligent in prayer—Jesus often stepped away from His pursuit of knowledge to spend time with His Father alone.
- Knowledge vs. belief. Teacher gifts may need extensive study before exercising faith. They must be careful that pride of knowledge does not prevent them from experiencing the blessings God gives to those who simply believe! God does not always show the end result of a process, and many times asks his children to take steps of faith. Teachers can increase their unbelief and intimacy with God by trusting Him to step into unseen territory.
While knowledge of God is important, knowing God and others intimately is important for every believer. We can help teachers pursue being known as much as they pursue knowledge, helping them walking in fulfillment as God intended.
How do you help your teacher friends walk in fulfillment of their gift?