Before we look at the characteristics of the teacher, we should talk about some of the influences on the gifts that can intensify the characteristics or diminish them and make us need to uncover who we were before we were trained to be otherwise.
First, our parents will have a huge influence on us. The redemptive gifts of our parents will influence or own perspectives and make us value whatever our parents valued or emphasized, or worse, discount who we were meant to be. For example, a ruler father and a mercy son are often tales of woe. The sensitive, poetic son of a driven kingdom building father may be misunderstood and then either seek to deny who he is and strive to be like his father, or go his own way through rebellion, unable to receive his mystified father's blessing. Stop for a minute and think about your own parents and where there was misunderstanding due to very different giftings and outlooks.
Our birth order also affects us. First born children will have many of the prophet's redemptive behavorial characteristics, such as pushing toward excellence, so if the first born is also a prophet redemptive gift, the behaviors will be intensified. But even if not, the first born will often be driven, black and white, intense, ambitious and so on, just because of birth order.
Whether we are left brained or right brained influences them, especially teachers. A teacher might be linear and methodical, or he could be right brained and very intuitive and unstructured.
Any one of the gifts will be affected by a number of elements that need to be considered.
Behavioral Characteristics of Teachers:
1. He has a need to validate truth. The teacher gathers information and test information against the information he already has to see if the new truth "fits in" with what he has stored. This makes the teacher very good at preserving past truths and maintaining, because he looks for the false in the new and waits to validate. A teacher usually honors the past and looks for patterns in it.
2.The teacher loves details and usually knows a great many. The teacher loves details and will usually tell a story filled with detail. The are often linear in their thinking and like to start at the beginning. Accuracy is important.
3. The Levite tribe was Teacher, and the teacher is often in a priestly role. By nature, teachers do not like confrontation. They had rather outline the "law" one more time and give the person a chance to obey of his own choosing.
The Levites took the sacrifices for sins and made the atonement sacrifices for forgiveness. Often the teacher may be found in places of healing and counseling where they are able to offer paths of healing without condemning or judging the person who has come for help. It is the gentle correction of the teacher that often brings about healing.
4. Teachers sometimes resist change. A teacher may take comfort in abiding by the way things have been done in the past and insuring that they stay the same.
5. A teacher likes to see the end from the beginning, so risk is very difficult for the teacher. Whereas the prophet often leaps before he looks, the teacher looks and plans and thinks of all the possible consequences before he leaps. That is why there may be conflict between these two gifts. Matters can always stand a little more study and contemplation for the teacher, and "yesterday" is sometimes too late for the prophet. I contrast these two characteristics for you, because there are many areas of potential conflict for all of us because of the way we process.
6. A teacher often has a great sense of humor and is able to see irony, satire, and have uncommon wit. Some of the great writers and humorists have been teachers. They often enjoy puns and sarcasm because they see irony quickly.
7. He does not accept or reject ideas quickly, but rather is able to hold thoughts in suspension as he ponders them. He is prone to reflection and taking time to decide. While some of the gifts may see this characteristic as a bad thing, it is simply the caution that he is meant to exercise. He guards what exists and looks to the past to make decisions and judge matters. Tearing down and rebuilding are usually not part of his mindset, but preserving and protecting. Many of the denominational churches are teacher and seek to hand down past traditions from a standpoint of "tried and true."
8. He balances the more impulsive gifts with caution and wisdom, but can also err on the side of caution. The more spontaneous and impulsive gifts can be a trial for the teacher, and he can be a trail to them. The truth, however, is meant to set us free, not bind us. HIs greatest achievements will be when he uses truth to free, not for control or to imprison. It is hard to see at times, when one is using truth to imprison and not being open to change and new revelation. But the teacher that can verify the good in change, when it is God's movement, is desirable, since he can verify from scripture and history.
9. He values integrity and knows that without it, he is diminished. He wants to incarnate truth, not just know it. While this is understandable and commendable, it can also lead to behavior like the Pharisees that became religious in their efforts to appear holy. At its best, it is a testimony of morality and spirituality and a rich family inheritance.
10. He may often have credentials and value credentials of others. Teachers believe that credentials are important and respect those who have them. They may spend much of their lives seeking credentials understanding the respect that learning brings. Teachers value study and knowledge. They are more prone to listen and accept truth from sources that they can validate. It can also be the reason the Pharisees couldn't accept Jesus or John the Baptist.
11. He preserves history. The teacher values the past and believes we should learn from it. So much of the wealth of knowledge through the centuries has likely been gathered and preserved by teachers, as well as many discoveries made by their intellectual pursuits.
12. He is not likely to impose responsibility, except in an abstract way through teaching. He too can fall prey to choosing to be responsible for certain things which appeal to him and neglecting others. He can live happily in the ivory tower and be remote from relationships and responsibilities other than learning or studying. He can be consumed in his quest for knowledge. He can be a loner and a recluse, or a highly entertaining lecturer. There is no one presentation because he may be right brained or left brained. The left brained teacher might look methodical and orderly, while the right brained teacher might be creative and, while very productive, more like an "absent minded professor." He may be meticulous and concrete, or more random and abstract in his thinking. But there is a common thread of curiosity and focus on knowledge in each one.
13. He is able to lay out truth in a non confrontational way. In fact, a teacher usually hates confrontation. Even though Samuel was in the office of a prophet, he was redemptive gift of teacher. When he confronted Israel it was by reading once again the laws they were breaking. When he stepped down for Saul to rule, he outlined his integrity as the measuring rod by which he wanted to be judged. Both of these are teacher characteristics. If a teacher is confrontational, he has learned to be through family training or circumstances have conditioned him to be.
14. In his quest for knowledge, he can focus more on the head than the heart. A teacher can become like the Pharisees who knew the law but did not recognize Jesus because they could not see or hear the new thing God was doing. That is not to say that he is not meant to have his heart attuned.
15. Teachers are prone to procrastination and focusing entirely on the pursuit of knowledge or preparing a sermon or study instead of maintaining more mundane tasks. In the Jewish faith, the rabbis spend the day in study and debate, and the women run the homes and work to provide for the family. Scholarly pursuits are considered to be higher than other things, and therefore they are exonerated from ordinary tasks. To become responsible in areas that are not as satisfying for the intellect, is to gain authority and to build character in the teacher which he needs.
The teacher is meant to study and to preserve the past where it is good and to hold the balance of the new while not destroying the old. He can lay claim to the very deepest truths, because like the third church in the book of Revelation, he can lay hold of the supernatural revelations as he digs deep. As for every gift, there is an opportunity not to settle for the ordinary, but to go beyond.
More about teachers
I think no one wants to imagine themselves guarding past truth, resisting new truth, and being whatever our most awful concept is of a boring teacher, clinging to yesterday.
In the Bible, Mary, the mother of Jesus was a teacher. Mary is an interesting study. What she was asked to do took an incredible amount of faith, a deep knowledge or belief in the goodness of God, and a willingness to surrender. Maybe none of those characteristics are on the teacher list in a recognizable way, but if you also consider Mary, she was not the following:
She was not a prophet, who announced that God had indeed spoken to her and now she was carrying God's son and He would save the world.
She was not a servant who did what she was told without the need to question or think about it deeply.
She was not an exhorter who boldly announced who God was and what He was about and that she would be was center stage in the process.
She was not a giver, practical and independent, looking for opportunity and building. She didn't start a movement or mother a nation.
She was not a ruler, carrying out a vision to save the world. She didn't organize or gather followers.
Nor was she a mercy, her heart attuned to Jesus and God throughout every moment of the journey, loving the world with her compassion, although I think she is now portrayed that way in some denominations.
Nope, she was a teacher. Why was that perfect?
Because she needed to be solid in her beliefs, so that she might accept the truth when she heard it and be willing to trust God for the rest.
She needed to be able to walk steady in that truth through Joseph's putting her away, the trip to Bethlehem, the early years of Jesus' life, and the ultimate journey He would take. She became a follower. She stood at the foot of the Cross. She came through to the end. Even when the prophet fell away, as Peter did.
Her pondering who He was and watching for all the signs as they appeared, led her to speak the words that released the first miracle. That was a teacher, putting two and two together, from the beginning, recognizing that the time had come: a supernatural revelation if there ever was one. And it was also her putting together a teacher's concern for the family and God's love toward it, that made her ask for a miracle.
And although she may not have understood the symbolism behind all of it, the wedding feast, the bride, the water, the blood, there was something that she did understand by observing and pushing forward that is the hallmark and beauty of a teacher. It might seem dull to put together facts and reach a conclusion and push an idea forward based on past ideas, but seriously, Mary was a little brilliant and spiritual, don't you think?
Mary received hidden manna. She birthed the Word that had dwelled with God so that He could dwell among us. A young Hebrew woman, a teacher, was given that assignment. And she succeeded. I say we ponder that for awhile.