Jump Start # 2637
2 Timothy 4:5 “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
My good friend Ken Weliever, and fellow blog writer, had a great article last week about “What do preachers do when they are not preaching?” That’s a question many wonder about. Ken’s article is not only a must read but it is also one to be used in training programs and even in Bible classes.
Our verse today, Paul’s words to a younger preacher has a series of four action statements.
- Be sober
- Endure hardship
- Do the work
- Fulfill your ministry
This is stated in contrast to the congregation. Paul warns Timothy that the congregation will not endure sound doctrine and will turn to myths. But you, as our verse begins, are to be different. You, are to stay the course. You must do the work.
So, what does a preacher do when he is not in the pulpit? For most, they only see the preacher on Sunday morning standing behind the pulpit. What’s he doing the rest of the week?
First, he is doing the work. Those old and stale comments, “You only work one day a week,” not only are insulting, disrespectful, but they are hurtful. Ask your dentist if he is a quack while he is drilling your teeth. That won’t be a good experience. “You only work one day a week” shows the ignorance of the person who speaks it. Go to any restaurant, other than fast food. When you order your food it takes time to prepare. The server doesn’t just pull it out of his pocket. If he did, you wouldn’t eat it. So, stop with the “you only work one day a week.” It’s not funny! It illustrates your ignorance of God’s word and how out of touch you are with the congregation. Maybe if you were involved more you would know what is going on!
What’s the preacher doing? He’s reading. He’s studying. He’s shaping sermons. He’s preparing classes to teach. He’s writing. He’s answering a bunch of questions. He is encouraging. He is teaching in private studies. It takes time to do all of those things. The preachers I know would love to put in a forty hour week. It never happens. Most of us are working seven days a week. When we get home, the work comes with us. There are always things to do.
Second, what is the preacher doing? He is thinking. Always thinking. That mind rarely shuts off. Even on vacation, another article to write. Another sermon to preach. Another class. And, most of the preachers I know are creative. I think that is in the DNA to be a preacher. It’s like a song writer. I’ve heard the stories of writers jotting a few words on the back of an old envelop and going to the studio and cranking out a number one hit. Their minds are creative. They just think that way. Preachers are similar. They are thinking about how to make things better. How to create a more inviting atmosphere. How to better connect with people. How to better reach the community. How to help the teens. Over and over and over, the preacher is always thinking. He’s thinking about YOU. He’s thinking about how to motivate you. How to get you to see the big picture. How to get you more committed, more involved and more useful to the kingdom. While we are thinking about fun, food and family, the preacher sits on his vacation with you running through his mind. Why is it that you will not teach a class? Why won’t you serve as a shepherd? Why are you always stuck in neutral?
Third, the preacher is growing spiritually. We all must do that. The preacher realizes that to be a leader one must be ahead of everyone else. So, he is busy learning, growing and becoming himself. He uses his experience to encourage younger preachers. He is always trying to find better ways to communicate and spread the word of God. He understands the value of being fresh, relevant, and practical. He has to know what is going on in the world and what’s running through the minds and hearts of the brethren. He must be on top of things and a step ahead.
Fourth, the preacher is doing so many things behind the scenes that others will never know about. He is with a family that is having issues with a teen. He’s talking to a man whose marriage isn’t hitting on all cylinders. He is with a family that just buried a loved one. He’s talking to a young couple who want to get married. He’s visiting homes, hospitals, nursing homes, and even jails. He’s in the coffee shop meeting with someone who has questions. His phone is always ringing with some need. His email is full every day. There are dozens of texts he must deal with. Often much of this is with folks outside the immediate church family. His influence and connections have drawn him to people all over the country or even the world. He does what he can to connect people to the Lord.
And, on top of these things the preacher has a family. He has a house to take care of. He has a yard to mow and cars that need maintenance. His day doesn’t end at five. He’s working every weekend. He doesn’t get holidays off. He pours his life into his work. Most have very little retirement. Most know that the tide can shift at any time and he could be asked to leave, which would mean that he would have to sell his house and move to another city. When age becomes a factor, he knows that he will be replaced, whether he is ready or not. And, when it is time for the old preacher to step down, there won’t be a gold watch given but a few slaps on the back and a wise crack, “Well, you only worked one day a week anyway.”
Why does the preacher do this? Long hours. Few benefits. Little security. We do it because we love to preach. We do it because we love to see the kingdom grow. We do it because the Lord allows us. We do it because it’s the right thing to do.
What’s a preacher doing when he is not preaching? He’s working. He’s working hard.