The qualifications for a fivefold teacher are the same as with other fivefold gifts. Character is a qualifier (1 Timothy 3:2-7). Fivefold teachers must live what they teach, being an example to the Body of Christ in word and sound doctrine. A teacher invalidates his ministry when his life does not line up with what he teaches. He becomes a “sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” and respect for him decreases. A fivefold teacher must live what he teaches, giving evidence to the Word of God at work in his life.
According to the Bible, a fivefold teacher will always be judged more strictly by the things that he teaches. James 3:1 states, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” This verse should warn every fivefold teacher to be very careful when standing before God’s people to teach God’s Word.
Often some sort of life experience either tests or affirms a Word that they are preparing to teach. If they are teaching on God’s provision, very often that particular word will be tested in their own life. Then the teacher comes out of that testing with a firm understanding and reality of God’s provision and they can then give testimony to that fact the next time they teach on the subject.
If they are teaching on marriage, undoubtedly they see this area challenged in their relationship with their spouse. The teacher need not fear this God-scrutiny on their life It really is an opportunity to prove the Word of God to be true. If what a fivefold teacher is teaching is not a reality in their life, then they should not be teaching it. It is always better to teach what we know, by experience, to be true. What we have experienced of the truth of God’s Word is always better than just a thought or concept. I appreciate a fivefold teacher that teaches life, not just theory.
A teacher has the ability to lead people astray or on the right path. That is a sobering thought. The average person will not take the time to study as much as a fivefold teacher does who publicly ministers. Therefore, there is a responsibility on the fivefold teacher’s shoulders to make sure that what they teach is truth and reality. He cannot say something just because it sounds good; it needs to be accurate, to line up with God’s Word. A teacher stands in a place of spiritual authority and holds the destiny of the people that he is teaching in his hands. He wants to not only lay a good foundation but also build upon the foundation that has already been laid. A fivefold teacher is very conscious about confusion and strives to avoid it at all costs.
The “divine tension” of the fivefold gifts shows up with the teacher as well. Consider the tension between a teacher and a prophet in this scenario: A gathering of believers have come together for a time of worship and teaching. God’s Spirit is present and there is tremendous freedom in worship. Prophetic words are given; people are drawn to the presence of God; there is excitement, anticipation, a sweetness in the spirit and an understanding that indeed the presence of the Lord is among them.
In this situation, the prophet will be thinking in terms of, :Let’s just go a little longer; the presence of God is here; people are being changed by His presence; let’s keep worshipping the Lord.”
Meanwhile, the fivefold teacher is thinking, “Cam we just get on with it? We have been worshipping for over half an hour; I won’t have time to teach the full word; it’s the implanted Word of God that will change their hearts; I wish I could have taught first, with the worship later.” Can you feel the divine tension?
The truth is that both are right. People are changed when they are brought into the presence of God. But the Word of God is also very powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, able to separate soul from spirit. So, we need the presence of God in our lives AND the power of God’s prophetic word as well.