Jump Start # 2374
2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.”
The chorus of one of the hymns we sing says, “I love to tell the story! ‘Twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story, of Jesus and His love.” This is the proclamation of all Christians. We love the Lord. We love what the Lord has done. We love what the Lord has promised. And, we love to tell others about that.
I’ve been reading the story of an old Indiana preacher named Daniel Sommer. He started preaching in the late 1800’s. He played a significant role in the direction of God’s people during a turbulent period of change and unrest. His name became a label for what some considered a narrow and negative mindset. In his time, men who wanted to be preachers picked up a Bible and started preaching. They weren’t trained, mentored or guided by older preachers. They were self taught and did things the best that they could.
In his own words Sommer said, “There are men who delight to preach, and regard it a high honor; but I do not. I wish I could. In early life, I enjoyed working on a farm and chopping cord-wood more than I ever had the work of preaching! The good accomplished by my labors is my only comfort. I am not a natural talker, and don’t like to talk…Sixty-five years of labor that has been almost constant has not made much change…Besides, I dislike to be in a crowd, and dislike most of the compliments on my preaching that I hear.”
Basically, here was a preacher who didn’t like to preach. My advise to him would be go back to the farm. One can work in the kingdom and serve the Lord well on both sides of the pulpit. Preaching isn’t the only way to influence others and to lead people to Christ. I’ve known preachers who said from the pulpit that they were depressed. That certainly puts a dark cloud over what they were to say next.
The art of writing sermons and the presentation of sermons takes some talent and some find it easier to do than others, but to declare that one does not delight in preaching makes us wonder about motivation, purpose, zeal and passion. There are times in life we have to do things, but we may not want to. Taking out the trash isn’t the highlight of my week. Getting blood drawn at a lab doesn’t thrill me. Sitting in a waiting room while my car is being worked on isn’t something that I get excited about. Those are things that have to be done. Those are things that are necessary. I’m not motivated nor passionate about those things. But, preaching shouldn’t fall into a category like that. Preaching is necessary. God declared that. From the early days until now, God has used preaching as the means to communicate His will. Moses preached. Noah preached. The prophets preached. The apostles preached. John the baptist preached. And, even Jesus preached.
But to have a preacher who doesn’t like to preach, is like an artist who doesn’t like to draw, or an athlete who doesn’t like to play in a game. All of us preachers have different aspects of preaching that we like better than others. And, there are sermons we like and sermons we don’t like. We look at our fellow preachers and often wish we could borrow some of their insights and talents. But, among the preachers I know, we like to preach. Preaching does a lot of good. Preaching builds faith and drives away fear and worry. Through preaching we become stronger in the Lord. We become motivated and challenged to take up the work of the Lord.
So, what do you like about preaching? I ask that to young men who want to preach. Their answer speaks volumes as to what they expect, and how well they will do.
My son who preaches is in town this week. We spent a lot of our time together talking about preaching. He’s been doing it long enough now that we can really have some great conversations about preaching, traveling, and the ups and downs of preaching. We even wrote a sermon together this week. Preaching is much more than standing behind a pulpit on Sunday. In fact, that’s the easiest part of preaching. And, that often is the greatest measure of preaching, how well one does behind the pulpit.
So, what do I like about preaching? Here’s a few things:
- It is exciting to see and learn truths in God’s word and then to share than with others. It’s wonderful to be able to help others see what you see. And, when they get it, to see them grow and change is a marvelous thing!
- I like the production of a sermon. Starting with a blank screen or sheet of paper, and taking thoughts and shaping them and filling them and rearranging them and building them to a completed sermon. Each week, we preachers go back and have to start this process over. Some weeks, the well really seems dry. Other times, the thoughts flow so easily. But to look back and to see in just a few days you have gone from a sketchy idea in your mind to a powerful sermon that you preached is such a joy.
- I like the love, confidence and trust that others put in me to lead them in God’s word. One must be careful and not abuse that trust nor take advantage of it. But it’s an honor to have people come with their questions and hope that you can help them see what they ought to do.
- To love preaching is to love the Lord. The message is His story. And, how can one not love to tell others about Jesus. Preaching is not about the preacher but it’s about the message. It’s about Jesus. This is not an ego ride and those that view preaching that way or as an easy way to make money typically bomb as preachers. To preach well, is to put Christ before the eyes of others. The audience ought to walk away impressed with Jesus, not the preacher. The preacher is simply a voice, an avenue by which thoughts travel. The destination is Jesus.
We who preach ought to love preaching. We need to work at it. We need to study it. We need to become the best that we can. Our hearts need to be drawn to the cross.
I love to tell the story…I hope you do!