Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pastoral Requirement: The Ability to Teach

“An overseer (episkopos) then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, ABLE TO TEACH….” (I Timothy 3:2)

The main function of a pastor/elder is to feed the flock.  To do this, he must possess the ability to teach.  He must be skilled in teaching scripture.

In the OT God said through the prophet Jeremiah, “I will give you shepherds after My own heart who will lead you with knowledge and understanding (Jer. 3:15).  That’s how the flock is fed… with knowledge and understanding that comes from those who are able to teach.

So what’s the difference between preaching and teaching?

You can spend a lifetime trying to figure out the difference between the two and never arrive at an answer.  In fact, the Bible seems to use the two words interchangeable.  Nevertheless, everyone has their own idea of how they differ.  Usually, it goes something like this:

If the pastor is talking in a relatively normal voice, then he is teaching.  But if he begins yelling, then he is preaching.  (And the louder he gets, the more anointing he has).

Or, you can distinguish the difference between teaching and preaching by the location of his necktie.  If the pastor loosens his necktie and is sucking air, he is preaching.  But if he leaves the knot in the middle, he is teaching.

I’m not being facetious, people actually believe that!

When I first began in the ministry, my mannerisms when preaching were much difference then they are now.  I used to pace back and forth on the platform like a caged lion.  I fell into the linguistic trap of trying to sound anointed.  I yelled, and waved my arms as I tried to wax eloquent.

But one day I was listening to another preacher who said something like this:  “The content of your message should have enough substance that you don’t need theatrics.  Look at Jesus’ style; when He preached the greatest sermon ever preached (the Sermon on the Mount), the Bible says He sat down and taught them (Matthew 5:1-2).  He didn’t run around like a cat with His tail caught on fire.”

Then it dawned on me.  The power of the message is in the content, not my platform mannerisms.  Knowledge and understanding of God’s Word is what changes lives and feeds sheep.

That day, I stopped yelling and began to focus instead on teaching God’s Word. I stopped 'working the room.' I stopped preaching to 'get a response' from the crowd. Instead, I started digging deeper into content because I wanted people to learn knowledge and understanding.  I decided right then and there that it is more important to influence people rather than trying to impress them.

That’s why “able to teach” is so vital to pastoral ministry.

Teach them, pastor.

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