What qualities should we look for in anyone (male or female) who professes to teach God’s Word?
Before I profile women bloggers and teachers that I believe merit our attention and trust, I would like to invest a little time in giving you tools for vetting such people for yourselves. In fact, you should use these tools to evaluate me! Discernment doesn’t come from letting someone tell you who to follow and who to avoid. Rather, it comes from knowing what characteristics God says a Christian leader should have.
As obvious as it seems, the most important characteristic of a sound teacher is her ability and obedience to handle the Word of God responsibly. Every teacher makes an occasional misstep, but a good teacher works diligently to apply proper hermeneutics when she presents a text.
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, ~~2 Timothy 2:15-16 (NASB)
Good Bible teachers find their doctrine from the Word rather than using Scriptures (usually out of context) to support their assertions. Not only do they depend on the immediate context of the verse or passage, but also the genre of the book they teach. For instance, Psalms is a collection of poems originally set to music, so often it uses metaphorical language. Trees do not literally clap their hands and believers are not literally sheep. Yet the four gospels record actual miracles, most notably Christ’s literal resurrection from the dead. These miracles must never be taught as metaphors or allegories!
Secondly, trustworthy teachers don’t make their lessons or blog posts into opportunities to promote themselves. An occasional joke or personal story might further a point that a teacher needs to make, but the Word must be front and center, directing hearers and readers to Christ.
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, 2 but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. ~~2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (NASB)
Sound teachers may not be as entertaining as those who regale us with their quick wit and/or autobiographical tales. When a story from the teacher’s life can help us understand a Scriptural principle, fine. But when teachers constantly tell prolonged, comical stories about themselves, particularly stories that cast them as heroic figures, they typically demonstrate that they are more interested in themselves than in Christ.
When a teacher or blogger does reference herself, ask yourself whether or not she does so in a way that points you to the Lord. Do you come away knowing her better or Him? Some of the teachers and bloggers I will profile in upcoming articles in fact do share examples from their personal lives, but they share in a manner that always goes back to proper interpretations of God’s Word. Their stories lead us back to Christ.
Another hallmark of good teachers is their determination not to adulterate the Word of God. She will refuse to entertain anything that adds or subtracts from the Bible.
18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. ~~Revelation 22:18-19 (NASB)
God no longer speaks apart from His Word, and a reliable Bible teacher will strongly affirm this fact. She will immediately follow the phrase, “God tells us,,” by quoting Scripture in context. Furthermore, she explains their Scripture, along with its context, in order to make a right application.
Similarly, good teachers won’t build their teachings around subjective spiritual experiences. Jesus doesn’t take people on dates, nor does He give us visions of heaven and ask us to write books about it. Trustworthy teachers focus on what the Holy Spirit revealed in Scripture, faithfully avoiding speculative and sensational topics. Bloggers will resist the temptation to produce click-bait in favor of writing about sound doctrine.
Lastly, sound teachers and bloggers strive to be obedient to the Lord in their personal lives. We struggle with sin, of course, sometimes falling in terrible ways. But overall, Bible teachers worth following live with a sincere desire to please the Lord. Such teachers submit to the authority of a local church and conduct themselves well on social media.
Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. ~~James 3:1 (NASB)
Does am teacher display godly character? As far as you can tell, does she model Christ? A good look at her Facebook page or Twitter feed can give you amazing insight into her personal walk with the Lord. Not that you should demand sinless perfection! But a Christian teacher should show a pattern of moving toward holiness, and the humility to confess her sin when she does fall into disobedience.
Along these lines, avoid a woman who deliberately preaches and/or teaches men within the context of a church setting or Christian conference. This woman either doesn’t know God’s Word (in which case she shouldn’t teach anybody) or she disregards the authority of Scripture in favor of her own desires. While bloggers may not be under the same constraints as those who teach face-to-face, I generally recommend women who write with a female audience in mind.
This short list of criteria for vetting women bloggers and teachers probably omits a few points, but it’s a helpful starting place. Please study Scripture for yourselves to understand what the Lord values in women (and men) who profess to represent His Word. Then follow those who obey His counsel, confident that they will lead you to a deeper knowledge of Him.Follow my blog with Bloglovin