Good teaching requires a quiet confidence coupled with authentic humility. The best teachers see themselves as learners and guides. Don’t worry about impressing the class with how much you know. Great Bible teaching is not about showing others how brilliant you are, but rather consists of helping others to seek, discover, and live out the deep truths found in the Scriptures for themselves.
Be open to astonishment.
One of my favorite prayers as I study the Scriptures in preparation for teaching or even in my personal devotions is this: “Lord, astonish me anew with the truths of your Word. Amen.” I like the word astonish because when I’ve been astonished I know that I’ve felt the weight of the Scriptures and am now ready to share my experience of God in the text with others. When we pray for astonishment rather than mastery of the material, we learn a key truth about teaching: It is less important that we master the text and more important that the text masters us.
Don’t try to impress others with big words or theological terms.
Of course it is ok to talk about justification or sanctification, but if you do, don’t assume that everyone in the class understands these words. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, was a learned scholar in the Oxford tradition but he lived by the mantra, “Plain words for plain folks.” Wesley was committed to sharing the deepest truths in language that others could understand. This should be our goal and stance as well.
Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.”
It is impossible to anticipate every possible question that may arise in class. Even the most knowledgeable and experienced teachers find themselves stumped from time to time. If a question or comment exceeds your current level of expertise, use such opportunities for additional growth. Invite the class to help you to discover possible answers. Write down the question for further research and reflection. If I don’t know something and my class is unable to figure it out together, I simply table the discussion for the day and promise to do my best to do more study and begin the next class with a fresh conversation about it. Such habits will serve you well and model for others the posture of a learner