Q: Are the Gifts of Pastor and Teacher Separate or the Same?
Selected from our Questions and Answers program
A: It's quite popular now for a great many to be called a pastor/teacher. Now the Lord gives to the church men with certain gifts. We're told in Ephesians 4:11, "And he gave some [that is, to some local churches], apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists [actually, that is missionaries]; and some, pastors and teachers." All of these are different gifts. That doesn't mean that a man who is an evangelist cannot teach the Word of God or that a pastor cannot teach also, but that's not his gift. If the Lord is permitted to have His way, the Spirit of God will put into the church what that church needs. Some churches need a pastor. Now the word "pastor" is "shepherd." A shepherd is one who watches over the sheep. He spends time counseling them, visits them, goes with them through their times of sorrow and crisis, and all of us have those things. There are certain men who have that gift as a pastor. Now let me speak very frankly. (Of course, that's the way I speak all of the time, but even more so now.) I have known men who have been pastors of churches who are lousy preachers and teachers, yet they were excellent pastors. And I have seen those men build great churches by exercising the gifts of a pastor, but not preaching and teaching. The church did suffer, though, and that's my reason for believing that if the senior pastor has a gift of teaching he ought to get someone in as an assistant who has the gift of pastor (shepherd) and vice versa. If he finds out that he is a good pastor, then let him get somebody who is a good teacher. That's how you get a well-rounded church. That's the reason why we have these lopsided churches today. Some of them have been pastored to death. They're a bunch of [spiritual] babies and the pastor is just a wet nurse running around burping babies. They need teaching! Wasn't I a pastor all of those years? I had to be. But I have to be very frank and confess to you, that was a part of my ministry that I did not enjoy. Some men just revel in it, they love it. I don't. I want to study the Word of God and preach and teach. That's what I wanted to do. And I think if any man that's in the ministry today tries to claim he has two gifts — and some of them think they're song leaders, too — I think there's one he ought not to be doing. I think a man has just one gift. I remember Dr. Chafer used to say, "A man may have two gifts, but I've never met him yet." God gives each one of us one gift. If I have any gift, it's been that of teacher. I think that's the reason the Lord has let me have a radio ministry. It's because I don't have to be a pastor. I can just be a teacher, and I can help a great many pastors. I want to do that, because they have a gift I don't have, and God's using them.
When all seems lost, God can make a way. That’s the theme of Ruth, chapter 3. The instructions Naomi gives Ruth as she comes before Boaz are also a beautiful picture of how we can come before the Lord Jesus and claim him as our Kinsman Redeemer.