Tag Archives: Preachers

3 of the Greatest Lessons I’ve Learned as a Preacher

     As of this fall, I have been working as a preacher in the pulpit nearly every Sunday for the last decade. While I know that is not a lot of time for some people, there are many things that come to light in a decade’s worth of experience. Many things have changed for me over that time, some things have stayed the same. Allow me to take a moment to tell you about the three biggest things I’ve learned in the last 10 years as a preacher.

     Everyone is different. “Oh come on, everyone knows that,” is the most frequent reply. However, for a preacher this is a very important consideration and one that impacts everything that we do. While intuitively we understand that each person is different, people don’t always anticipate just how deep those differences can go and just how much it requires flexibility as a preacher.

     Because everyone is different, I cannot work at just one level. I preach and teach every Sunday to some people who know a great deal about the Bible and some who know very little. Therefore, the preacher cannot assume that the audience knows and understands all of the basics and fundamentals and only speak to the higher levels of understanding; nor can he only preach fundamentals and never get into the meat of the word. Finding that balance is tricky, but absolutely essential to fulfilling our responsibilities.

     Equally important in this area is the recognition that every Bible study will be different. I don’t think I have ever had two Bible studies that started in exactly the same place. I have studied with people who are highly educated and adults who could barely read. I have studied with people who believe they know everything the Bible has to say and people who will readily admit they know very little, if anything, about it. I could not tell you that I “always” start a Bible study a certain way, because I have found that to be impossible. Everyone is different, and each person has a different starting point. The preacher must be flexible to that.

     Humility is essential to effectiveness. There are two areas in which this understanding is the most important. The first is in preaching and teaching. As a preacher, you may have gone to preaching school, college, or the school of hard knocks, but rest assured you don’t know everything. Every member in the congregation has the ability to teach you something, whether it be from life or Scripture. I never understood the intricacies of Jesus’ interaction with the fig tree (Mat. 21) until a member who had one in his yard explained some of the nuances of how they work. There are many areas of wisdom and understanding that the preacher can and should learn from those around him (older and younger); but he must be humble enough to see them, desire them, and grasp them.

     The other area is in the realm of church problems. The preacher has to be humble and self-aware enough to recognize his own strengths and weaknesses. When members have problems with you (and they will), the wise preacher will not assume they are simply blowing smoke. Sometimes it is because they want you to be a carbon copy of some other preacher (which you cannot be), sometimes it is because you stand for truth they don’t like (something you cannot change), but sometimes it is because you are falling short in an area where you are weak. Do not respond by saying: “That’s just the way I am, they can take me or leave me.” They’ll leave you and you will have failed in your work because of your own pride. Instead, be humble enough to admit your mistakes and shortcomings, then honestly and genuinely strive to improve them. They may never become strengths, but your honesty and hard work will be noticed and it will be respected.

     God answers prayers. Again, some would consider this a “duh” statement, but the reality is that this full conviction and realization is vital to the preacher’s mental and spiritual health and determination. My wife and I have always prayed that God would help us to be placed where we are needed and can be of the most use. I fully believe God has answered that prayer. While that has not meant working with a large salary and the amenities some preachers have, it has given a confidence that we are where we need to be, doing what we need to be doing. That is a great blessing and gives great peace of mind.

     Understanding this point is also vital in other areas. It is my firm conviction that a man should never enter a teaching situation without prayer (and I’m not talking about a public assembly prayer). The last person you talk to before addressing others (publicly or privately) should be the Lord. It is important for your mindset, your emotional balance, and your relationship with him as his servant. It is also important when seeking to reach out to others. Prayers to God for open doors never fail to be answered positively if we are diligent in watching for them. Sometimes they come to us, other times they require us to go to them. Without a doubt, prayer is one of the most vital components to effectively working as a preacher.

     Maybe these are all things you knew, maybe these are a given for some, but for most (myself included) they are lessons that are easily communicated but much more difficult to fully learn and appreciate. As a preacher, these things must be remembered and utilized every day as we seek to serve God. For those who are not preachers: encourage your preachers with all your might. Pray for them, love them, help them wherever you can, and thank God for them.

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3 of the Best Things you can do for your Preacher

There are very few things within the church more frequently discussed than the relationships and responsibilities between preachers and members. Consequently, there have also been many articles, seminars, meetings and events from both perspectives seeking to help build those relationships to where God wants them to be. While many times, the focus falls upon what the preacher is, or is not, doing and what is, or is not, his responsibility (and rightfully so); there are also some things that need to be understood when it comes to a member’s relationship with the preacher. Consider with me 3 of the best things that you, as a member, can do for your preacher.

1. Love him. Believe it or not, preachers are people too! They have feelings, struggles, cares, and concerns just like everyone else. While we all intuitively recognize the need for loving one another within our families (both physical and spiritual), it is sometimes difficult for members to remember that the preacher is more than just a man who gets paid by the congregation to speak and work. He is a brother in Christ, a man who has ups and downs like every other member, and one who needs to feel the love, care, and concern of the brethren for him just as much as anyone else. Therefore, one of the greatest things you can do for your preacher is show him you love him. Call him when he and his family are sick, just as you would want him to do for you. Do things for him that you would do for others about whom you care, not because it is required of you, but because it is what you want to do. Show him (and yes, even tell him) that you love him and care about him; because it is far easier to work with people who you know care about you than it is those who you are not sure even like you.

This does not mean you will agree on every opinion, and that’s okay. It does not mean that the preacher will never do anything wrong, or say anything in a way you do not think is best, he probably will: he is human. Yet, even in these things, show him you love him by extending the courtesy of going to him to talk about it, not everyone else. Show him you care just as much about his soul as he does about yours. It will make him want to work even harder and try to do better.

2. Help him. I know, I know, he’s the preacher and you hired him to do things that he has been prepared to do, whereas you have not. However, that does not mean that you cannot be of great help to your preacher; maybe in ways you had never considered. Like most jobs, while there are some things that are better left to be done alone, there are other things where more hands are better. One of the things preachers love most is to see people who want to work with them; people who are interested in spiritual things and in seeing to the needs of others. So, if you want to boost your preacher’s morale (not to mention help accomplish things God desires to see you do as well): offer to go out visiting the sick or shut-ins with the preacher or ask if he would mind you going with him to an area Gospel Meeting or Seminar.

However, there is another area that the member can be of great help to the preacher. You see, when preachers take so many hours each week to prepare sermons and classes that will be beneficial to the hearers in both instruction and encouragement, it is helpful to know that the intended purpose is being accomplished. Therefore, one of the greatest ways a member can help the preacher is to show him that you were listening to, and learned from, the things said. Maybe it was a particular verse, word, or idea discussed that stuck with you; or maybe it was just that you appreciate the topic he selected. You can help your preacher a great deal just by letting him know that the work and effort placed in those lessons has been of benefit to you.

3. Pray for him. There is not a preacher I know that does not desire the prayers of others on his behalf. The preacher has a very stressful, intense, and public job. One where scrutiny is common and pressure is high. Most preachers are working feverishly to reach out to the lost, to find ways to touch that prodigal son, and to impact their communities in the most positive way possible. Because of this, it always builds a preacher up to know that there are those with whom he works that are praying for him and the success of his endeavors. Paul would often ask his brethren to pray for him in his various works and conditions; so preachers should also desire the prayers of the members. If you want to give your preacher a boost, let him know you are praying for him, or for a particular endeavor that he has undertaken. It will mean more to him than he will be able to tell you.

There are many things the preacher needs to be doing and sometimes he falls short. However, these few things can help a preacher stay on track, be the kind of preacher God wants him to be, and be a blessing to you and those around you. If you will do these things you will have a stronger relationship with your preacher, and you will encourage him to continue fighting for the cause of Christ.

(This article is dedicated to the members of the Second Street congregation. They have reached out to me in each of these areas on a daily basis and it has strengthened me beyond measure.)

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5 Ways to Depress Your Preacher

Any preacher who has been working at the profession for long has had to endure the frustrations and depressions of the job. It is not that the preacher does not love the Lord, the job that he does, or the responsibilities he has; it is simply that the job is a high stress, high pressure profession that most, who have never had to bear the responsibilities entailed, cannot fully understand. That being said, sometimes the frustrations and depressions are caused because of the actions of those upon whom the preacher relies: the members of the congregation with which he works. Consider 5 ways to depress your preacher.

Come to Bible class without preparation

Preachers and Bible class teachers in general work diligently to prepare lessons that will benefit, strengthen, encourage, and uplift the hearer. Therefore, it is very difficult when those listening do not seem to care about the study of God’s Word enough to prepare and be attentive to what is presented. It is especially frustrating when the class is doing an expository study of a book of Scripture and nobody in the class but the teacher has taken the time to read the section of Scripture they know will be studied.

Our children have homework and assignments throughout their years in school that require preparation and work. If they do not accomplish the necessary work they are unprepared for their classes and their grades reflect their shortcomings. Unfortunately, many adults believe that once they have completed their schooling, there should be nothing that requires their preparation and attention to the level of “homework” any longer. But Christians are to be those who love God’s Word, study it, and prepare themselves to discuss it (2 Tim. 2:15; Acts 17:11). Nothing is harder on a teacher than the belief that the hearer is not as interested and passionate about the Greatest of all Books as he is. When the adults in the congregation approach their Bible classes with anticipation, preparation, and consideration it makes the entire process more beneficial; additionally, it strengthens not just the hearer, but the teacher as well.

Request things of the preacher you will not do yourself

Preachers come to work with congregations of the Lord’s people, not for them. When a preacher is hired, it does not thereby alleviate the responsibilities the rest of the congregation have to love and serve one another, and proclaim the Gospel to the lost.

It is often depressing for preachers to have members, and even elders at times, come to the preacher desiring him to work in a particular area where they are not willing to assist. It may be a question of doing more visiting, working at the local nursing homes, starting programs for the congregation, or any number of other things. The preacher is often willing to help in these areas and has no problem with reaching out by many different mediums, but the preacher needs help. Preachers need those who are not just willing to tell them what needs to be done, but are willing to volunteer to help them do it. One of the fastest ways to burn out a preacher is for the congregation to expect the preacher to do everything while they set back in their pews and wonder why he is not doing more. It requires the work of the whole body to function effectively (Eph. 4:16).

Continuously remark about how much better another preacher is

All preachers are not created equal, and it is understood that there are some bad preachers out there, but there are also many good preachers and all of them have strengths and weaknesses. Some preachers are excellent teachers, but not fiery presenters from the pulpit. Some are great writers, while others work wonderfully on radio and television. Some are excellent speakers in Gospel meetings and on lectureships, while others thrive in the week to week service of the congregation. This does not make any of these various preachers better than the rest, it simply shows that each has a different skill set that can be used to the glory of God.

If you were to ask most preachers, they know their limitations and weaknesses, and will readily tell you what they are. This does not mean they are unwilling to work in areas where they are not as proficient, but that they recognize they may not be able to do the job as well as another preacher.

That being said, it is sometimes easy for members to focus on their preacher’s weaknesses instead of his strengths. Many have been the times I have heard members speak to a visiting preacher about how they wished he was always there to speak, when all the while the full-time preacher is standing there hearing every word. Whether the member realizes it or not, he is telling the preacher his talents, time, and desire are not on an equal plane in that member’s perception with the other preacher. Such is very hurtful when the preacher spends hours each week working to the best of his ability to teach, preach, and assist as many as he can – only to find his efforts are rejected and unappreciated because others can perform one aspect of the job more pleasantly than he.

Become angry at the preacher for preaching the truth

There is no preacher I know who relishes preaching those hard sermons; the ones that he knows the congregation needs and with which they struggle. The ones that require people to reconsider what they have believed and thought all of their lives to be true, only to learn it is not.  Yet, the preacher is under obligation to proclaim the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), and therefore cannot ignore topics and passages of Scripture just because they could cause problems or be misunderstood.

Consequently, the task is made many times more difficult when the preacher does not have confidence that the people will accept God’s Word as it has been presented, but will instead become angry, discontented, or outright belligerent toward the servant of God. Such an attitude shows the desire for someone to itch the ears of the hearer (2 Tim. 4:3) not hear the word of God.

The greatest encouragement a preacher can receive is the thanks and appreciation of God’s people when he stands for what is right on topics that are not popular. If you love God’s Word and the man that presents it, be sure to show appreciation for him and his work, take the things presented and apply them to your life as God commands.

Leave him as an outsider in the congregation

Most members do not understand how difficult it is for a preacher to work in a congregation. More times than not the people in the congregation have known each other for far longer than the preacher, have relatives in the congregation while the preacher does not and already have lives established while the preacher has to begin again. Therefore, the preacher and his family have a great need to be accepted as a part of the congregational family for the work to truly prosper.

Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Many times members are wary and standoffish toward the preacher. The preacher is supposed to visit, but is never invited over for a meal. He is supposed to get to know everyone in the congregation, but is never invited to participate in anything members of the congregation do for recreation and fun. He is supposed to be able to reach into the hearts of every individual to better their lives, but they will not open up their hearts to him and allow him to build friendships and relationships with those among whom he should be closest. This becomes one of the greatest hurdles for preachers to overcome and has caused more sleepless nights for preachers than many other things; for the preacher can only minister to people to the degree he knows their needs. If you want to increase the effectiveness of the preacher in the congregation, open the doors of family and friendship and help him strengthen the congregation from the inside out, instead of having to do it from the outside in.

I am convinced that most members do not intentionally hurt and make more difficult the work of the preacher; but that they simply do not know the impact their actions, and inactions, have on the life, mindset, and focus of the preacher on a daily basis. Any preacher who is worth his salt is always trying to find ways to help and strengthen those around him; to find ways to proclaim the Gospel to any and all who will listen; and to work that he, his family, and those around him will all spend eternity in Heaven. But no preacher can do it alone. He needs help, encouragement, love, and compassion as much as any other man. He is not perfect, but he is constantly striving to serve God and to cause others to do the same. May God bless the preacher, as well as the elders and members who aid, strengthen, and enhance the work he does.

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