Following on from recent events considering full time Bible teaching ministry, and recent sermons on work; we put 6pmers' questions to our new curate Mickey Mantle.
How do I work out my gifts and talents, in order to maximise them in gospel ministry?
Give it a go! That is, take opportunities to share the Bible with others. It is our responsibility and privilege as members of the body to be sharing the truth of Scripture to build that body (Eph 4:15, Col 3:16). And when we do that, as well as doing ourselves and others good, it gives us the chance to have a go to test out the gifts we've been given. Agree with someone (Christian or not yet) to read the Bible together. As you prepare and share you have a great opportunity to begin to test these gifts. As well as that, be willing and available if asked to serve in slightly more formal ways - e.g. RML leadership, a youth talk, a talk on a Summer Camp, a 5 min thought at a Dialogue Dinner.
How do I know if I'm a gifted Bible teacher?
When given opportunities ask for and welcome honest feedback and help. It is not about us. God has given just the right gifts in just the right proportion to just the right members of his church (1 Cor 12:1-31) so there is no need to be either crushed or proud. Like anything we get better at Bible teaching when we do it more often. And if, after doing it for a bit, the people who you are teaching are being helped by your work, and those responsible for identifying teaching gifts are asking you to use those gifts, then that would be an obvious indication that we should be open to continuing to make ourselves available to serve in this way. In the end it is the elders of the church whose responsibility it is to identify and approach people to engage in Bible teaching (1 Tim 2:2). But we can help them in this job by having initiative as we ought and being willing and available.
What would you say to those who have had identified both the necessary gifts and godliness, but would rather just keep their secular job and lead RML (i.e. as opposed to taking time out to get the further training, that would mean they could be full time Bible teachers)?
Pray for a pure heart and then examine your heart honestly about why you don't want to do this work if you have been asked to consider it. Is it a sin whether of the love of money, comfort, status, and so on that is holding us back? Take confidence in the promise that as we seek God's kingdom first we have a Father who will take care of all our needs (Matt 6:33). If it is sin then repent. But if there are other good and unworldly reasons why we should not (e.g. unchangeable life circumstances, character) then we should not feel guilty or be made to feel guilty to say no thank you. We are free to decide (1 Peter 5:2). But if given the opportunity, what an incredible, undeserved privilege!