James 3:1 tells us, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” Teaching in the church is not open to the masses. Only those who have a clear calling from God should venture down this path. James’ reasoning is simple – one day when we stand before God to give an account, we will be judged with greater strictness. As Jesus explained, “to whom much was given, of him much will be required” (Luke 12:48). As the pastor of a local church, I have the great privilege of teaching the Word of God to men and women every week in a number of different settings. I love doing this and it is a great honor to do so, but I am also aware that one day God will hold me accountable in this regard. Paul told Timothy, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16). This is in line with the Old Testament prophet of God. The prophet was required to declare the very words of God to the people. And while the response was out of his control, he could deliver himself by faithfully acting as God’s mouthpiece (check out Ezekiel 2-3 for more on this). In the same way, the pastor must watch his life and teaching, not just for the sake of his hearers, but also for the sake of himself, knowing that one day he will give an account before God.
A few thoughts to ponder for pastors and teachers:
- Have I invested the time and preparation needed for the material I will teach (whether it be sermon, Sunday school, Bible study, etc.) this week?
- I am confident that what I will teach is doctrinally sound and will be edifying for my listeners? “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1).
- Have I coated everything that surrounds my teaching ministry in prayer (preparation, my listener’s, me, presentation)?
- Am I expecting the Holy Spirit to work in powerful ways through the teaching of God’s word?