|For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. (2Corinthians4:5)|
Unfortunately some people are eager to preach for the wrong reasons:
- They like to be the centre of attention.
- They like to call it "their ministry".
- They like to tell endless stories about themselves and what they are doing for God.
- They rely on their charismatic personalities to "hold" the crowd.
But Paul defines preaching very clearly:
- It is about Jesus, through Jesus and for Jesus' sake.
- And we have to have the heart of a servant.
Let's look at these more clearly:
Firstly, faithful preachers point towards Jesus and portray Him not only as Saviour and "God of the Gaps" but as LORD. This means tackling uncomfortable issues and being willing to push comfort zones and confront hypocrisy, idolatry and sin. It also means that God's gracious love is celebrated and lifted up. They will do what they can to help people see Jesus. This doesn't mean that they never use a personal illustration - people relate to personal illustrations - it is just about focus. Where does the spotlight land?
Tony Campolo tells the story of a man in London man who, after hearing one of the other great Christian orators of the day, was overheard saying to a friend, "What a preacher! What a preacher!" The following week, this same man, having heard Charles Spurgeon, was overheard to say "What a Saviour! What a Saviour!"
Secondly, faithful preachers are also willing to serve. They're willing to help with behind-the-scene tasks and they don't compete for the spotlight. They don't have a "speaker's fee" (which doesn't mean that we shouldn't look after those who faithfully and diligently preach God's Word.) Their lives demonstrate that Jesus has the first priority and that they love the people they serve.
Bill Hybels talks about his dad who faithfully ministered to a group of handicapped women on a regular basis - although he was a very competent businessman who could have spoken to big and sophisticated audiences Bill's Dad was content to share with these women who he loved and served over a long period of time. As a young boy Bill felt awkward and embarrassed about these women who would come and speak to his dad who showered them with care and affection but was later inspired by his father's selfless love for them.
Not all of us are involved in preaching.
- But we can encourage those preachers who point us to Jesus. There is a difference between constructive feedback and ego-feeding compliments and flattery. If a preacher helped you see Jesus more clearly - you could say to them "God used you today - I saw Jesus more clearly."
- We can also be careful not to put people on pedestals. Some churches publish the preaching roster and attendance waxes or wanes depending on who the preacher is - this shouldn't happen. We should do our best to hear the message in spite of the messenger.
- We should pray for our preachers regularly.
Why not pray for Sunday's preachers right now?