I have an authoritative teaching role. I do not say this to boast, or to assert my authority. In fact, writing what I just wrote fills me with a sense of my own unworthiness and inadequacy. I find hope in passages like 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, where it says, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”
In the Anglican understanding of the biblical teaching about “elders/presbyters,” I have been set aside or ordained, to be an elder/presbyter. One of the main features of an elder/presbyter is that they are called to an authoritative teaching role in the local and the wider church. Many in the church are called to teach the Bible. Mothers and fathers teach their children the faith; Sunday School teachers, small group leaders, mentors, evangelists, youth group leaders, friends – all of them are called to teach the Bible in the context of the Gospel and share the Gospel in the context of the Bible.
As an elder, one of the things I am called to do as I teach and preach is to model to the congregation how to correctly handle the word of truth. This requires far more than “techniques” or “steps” for interpretation and speaking. The disposition of my heart is of the utmost importance. Here are seven areas to pray into as you pray for yourself when you teach the Bible, and when you pray for others as they teach and preach the Bible. All of these prayer concerns come from John 10:1-18, that great Bible passage on Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Here are seven simple points to pray for all who shepherd/pastor others.
First, since Jesus is the Good Shepherd, pray that all of your teachings bring people to Him. If people are impressed with your teaching gifts but are not more appreciative of Jesus and more desirous to have Him as their Good Shepherd, then you have failed in your teaching.
Second, pray that the Good Shepherd will lead, guide, and feed you at every step of both your preparation and your teaching. You need His help at every stage, not just when you speak.
Third, pray that you will have the Good Shepherd’s love for His sheep. You can easily grow cold in your love. You can easily drift into being irritated by His sheep, giving up on His sheep, being angry at His sheep. In fact, we start calling them, “the sheep,” not “His sheep.” Pray that He will grow in you His love, for His sheep.
Fourth, pray that you will feed His sheep well from His word written. Your preaching and teaching should nourish His sheep. Keep in mind passages like 2 Timothy 3:16-17. God’s word written is both your necessary food and your sufficient food. He feeds you by His word written.
Fifth, pray that you will protect His sheep through your teaching and preaching. The world, the flesh, and the devil are tireless in trying to form you into their mould. An under-shepherd who loves the Good Shepherd’s sheep must protect them from the wolves that seek to devour.
Sixth, pray that you will seek His lost sheep as you teach and preach the Bible. This is especially true today. All sorts and conditions of people can easily watch your services. Pray that many will listen in. Do not just speak to the faithful in your church. Preach and teach with all sorts of non-Christians in mind. Speak mindfully of the objections their minds have to the Gospel and the whole counsel of God. Speak to clear up their misunderstandings of the faith. Pray that you will be winsome, gentle, respectful, humble, clear and inviting as you proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord (2 Corinthians 4:5). Know this, the Lord desires to bring His lost sheep into His fold.
Finally, pray that you will always remember that the sheep are His, not yours. He has called you to be under Him, caring for His sheep, for their good and His glory. Friends, please pray for me and all those who open the word.