This year will be the sixth year I’ve taught Bible study to the women of my church. I can’t tell you how much of a blessing it’s been. I started out with so much passion but not a lot of skill or experience. Over the years the Lord has enabled me to learn a lot more and now I’ve come to a point where I have been able to write my own Bible studies. I’ve had a lot of help from different people and ministries. I’ve attended several Simeon Trust workshops, listened to all of Nancy Guthrie’s Help Me Teach the Bible podcasts, and had other smarter people look at my work along the way. I’ve learned so much about proper exegesis, biblical theology, and how to teach in a way that engages women in active learning. I also know I have a lot more to learn.
Lately though, I’ve been thinking about the most essential skills for the Bible teacher. While being able to properly exegete a text and understand how it fits into the story of redemption is vitally important, there are some other things that are essential. If you don’t have these things, all the proper exegesis in the world will eventually fall flat. Maybe not right away, but eventually, over a long enough period of time, your teaching will be less and less effective. I have put these essential skills into two categories: Loving God and Loving Others.
What does it mean to love God as a Bible teacher? It means you don’t stand at arm’s length from the text you’re studying, treating it merely as an intellectual puzzle to be solved. You must get into the text yourself and allow it to change you. After all, this Word you’re studying leads you to the God of the Word.
Yes, look up the cross references and read the commentaries but stop and pray. Engage with the Author of your text. Ask Him to open your eyes to the wonders contained in it. Ask Him to incline your heart to Him through it. As you ask questions of the text, let it ask questions of you. Submit to what it’s saying and allow the Spirit to point out the things in your life that need to change. And take time to worship. Don’t be satisfied with merely finding the correct interpretations and applications. Let your study lead your heart to be satisfied in the Lord.
And what does it mean to love others as you prepare to teach the Bible? I think it means that you don’t see your role as a teacher as an avenue to display all your tremendous insights. One thing I’m learning about being a good teacher is that sometimes you have to say less! Yes, less! Did you know that lecturing is one of the most ineffective and inefficient ways to teach people? So I have to give up my desire to tell the women everything I learned in my study and instead think about them and how they can best learn. Teaching the Bible to others is not about showing off your knowledge. It’s about leading others into the treasures of God’s Word so they can see how amazing He is, not you.
Loving others as a teacher also means that you tailor your teaching illustrations and homework questions to the women you’re teaching. Do you spend time getting to know the women you’re teaching? If they’re young moms you will use different illustrations and ask different application questions than if they’re empty nesters. Knowing your women well will cause you to adjust what you’re doing, maybe on the fly. But this communicates that you love them more than your pre-prepared teaching outline.
So as I enter into this sixth year of teaching the Bible, I think I need to make sure to spend more time letting the Word I’m studying change me and praying for the women who will hear this Word. My deepest desire really is for them to see more of Him and less of me.