TWELVE THINGS EVERY PREACHER NEEDS
Preachers, gospel heralds (Romans 10:13-15), are men who do much preaching and teaching. Some are very successful, while others often fail. Why? There are a number of reasons that could be set forth for each of these. Though not an exhaustive list, perhaps a few suggestions may be helpful.
First, Paul wrote, “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?….” (Romans 2:21-24). Cf. Psalm 50:16. We often hear people challenge those who talk the talk to walk the walk. Some have called upon preachers to “show me a sermon” as well as preach me one. One secret of success is surely set forth by Paul, when he by inspiration wrote, “be thou an example of the believer.” (1 Timothy 4:12).
Second, have a prayerful life. “Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18). Jesus said “that men should always pray, and not to faint.” (Luke 18:1). Read verses 2-8. The wives of two preachers were mending their husbands’ pants. One wife said, “Your husband is doing well, and the church is growing, while my husband is accomplishing little, and the church is in decline.” She then asked, “Why is this?” The other wife responded, “Perhaps the answer is in the pants we are mending. You will notice that I am mending the knees of my husband’s pants; you are repairing the seat of your husband’s pants.” Pray, brother, Pray. Pray prior to study. Pray prior to entering the pulpit. Pray prior to any part of the work you are about to do. Study the life of Jesus, and notice where, when, and for what He prayed. Consider the prayer life of others. Sincere and genuine prayer shows submission to God.
Third, work is necessary to success in any field. This is especially vital in preaching. Jesus said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9:4). If Jesus needed to work, surely every preacher does. You could have chosen many honorable professions, but you have chosen to do the greatest work in the world. Be faithful to get the work done. Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:57, 58. The story of the two preachers in the previous paragraph reveals the need to work as well as pray. Your work will help saints get to heaven. (Ephesians 4:12). Do not be encumbered with things. Reap the harvest while it is ripe. (Matthew 9:37, 38; Luke 10:2ff).
Fourth, have much study time. You are not an elder or deacon, and you should not be doing their work. God gave them that responsibility. The first century preachers refused to leave preaching the word to serve tables. (Acts 6:1ff, especially, verses 2, 4). The first century preachers “were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4; Matthew 10:19). You, however, must realize the need for reading and studying to preach the word. (2 Timothy 2:15; 4:2). Elders in a church told a preacher that he was not studying. He responded, “That is an insult to me.” The elders replied, “We cannot help it; it is showing up in your sermons.” Preachers who have studied for a while may preach from an overflow. However, the overflow will soon run over, and the church will begin to notice it and suffer from such.
Fifth, have balanced preaching. Sadly, many congregations have been divided because of some herald preaching on his “pet doctrine” over and over. They were called hobby riders in the 1950’s. One’s preaching should be to sinners (Acts 2) and saints (Romans thru Revelation). Perhaps preachers should have a sheet listing subjects preached to avoid such. Guard against preaching on certain subjects to make sure you do not preach on one subject only. Preach on obedience to the gospel, the church in its various aspects, Christian living, and so much more.
Sixth, the preacher must “seek…first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;….” (Matthew 6:33). We need men and their wives who will give themselves wholly to God, men like Peter and Andrew (Matthew 4:18-20), James and John (Matthew 4:21-22), Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:26), those of Romans 16, and others. Consider the preachers of the New Testament, who were faithful unto the end. DO NOT allow material things to get in the way. Remember, some of the preachers of the past preached for little or nothing. They were committed to the kingdom above all. They were certainly not greedy of filthy lucre.
Seventh, have a good library. “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” (1 Corinthians 15:53). Be careful of forming a faith from denominational writers and speakers. Some of these people have some good comments on certain things. However, “search the scriptures” when you hear or read any comment from anyone, and have a faith based upon a “thus saith the Lord.” (John 5:39; Acts 17:10-12; Ezekiel 36:2, 3). Hard copies of works are good, and this writer has many. However, many CD’s, DVD’s, etc., may now be used. Use your judgment, and compile a good library to aid you to learn and teach most effectively. Be careful not to allow yourself to be led astray by anyone.
Eighth, do not demand your own way in matters of OPINION. Hold firm in matters of FAITH. (2 John 9-11; Philippians 1:27). You will soon realize that doing some things other people’s way may be better than what you wanted. T. D. Pounders, a former elder at the West Concord Church, has often said, “I don’t have to have my way.” Fred Webb (deceased), a member of the Centre Church, objected to relocating and building a new facility. However, when the men voted to do so, he said, “If this be the wishes of the men, I will support it 100%.” He did many helpful things, speaking often and proudly of the decision. Attitudes like these would save churches from division.
Ninth, seek to work with good congregations and elderships. Realize that neither is sinless. (The Epistles). Pray for the work, then labor to make them the best they can be, what God wants. A good Church will be of encouragement to you, support you, and work with you, bearing much of your load. A good eldership will advise and correct you when you may be going in the wrong direction, support you in every good way, visit with you, and so much more. Realize that elders are your overseers as well as ruling the members. Treat the congregation as you desire to be treated. Cf. Matthew 7:12.
Tenth, be the kind of preacher whom others can commend. Notice what Paul said of Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14, 15), Titus (Titus 1:4), John Mark (Acts 13:5; 2 Timothy 4:11), those of Romans 16, and others. You will be known as a balanced and faithful gospel proclaimer, or you will be known as a lazy, trouble-maker, ineffective person, and such like. Work to be approved of God; the rest will take care of itself. When G. C. Brewer died in 1956, there were many tributes paid to him by well-known gospel preachers. They wrote of his courage to stand firm for his faith, be amiable, loving, and so on.
Eleventh, have a good wife. (Proverbs 18:22). Unfortunately and sadly, some churches have an unwritten law that preachers must be married. Paul was not. (1 Corinthians 7:7, 8). Some preacher’s works have been ruined by their wives and/or children. Seek a wife like Priscilla (Acts 18:24-28), Phoebe (Romans 16:1, 2), and those of Romans 16. Marry one who denies ungodliness and worldly lusts, and who lives soberly, righteously, and godly. (Titus 2:11, 12). Cf. 1 Timothy 2:9-11; 4:12; Ephesians 5:21-33; etc.
Twelfth, do your work as a herald. (2 Timothy 4:2; Acts 6:1-7). Visit hospitals and other works as a Christian, and teach the brethren that you were not hired to do their work of partaking the Lord’s Supper for them, giving for them, praying for them, teaching, visiting, and all else for them.
Beloved brother and proclaimer of the Holy Scriptures, you have made this choice of a willing and ready mind. Be zealous in doing this work. It is a privileged vocation. Your soul and the souls of others are at stake. What you do or fail to do will result in an eternity in heaven or hell for you and them.