You probably have noticed that preachers come in all shapes and sizes. There are big, gregarious, sweaty foreheaded preachers. There are short, slim, soft-spoken preachers. There are creative preachers who always have a slick gadget or a clever object of illustration. There are King James preachers who love Thees and the Thous of Thy Holy Word. So, what makes for a faithful preacher?
Because God has called preachers to be faithful rather than successful, how can we be sure we are staying true to the call? Here are a few biblical criteria to keep us on track:
The faithful preacher should give people a bigger picture of God.
“For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.” (2 Cor. 4:5)
Ultimately, people need to be told repeatedly that the God of Scripture is bigger than all of our earthly problems. While preachers are wise to speak about complex issues of the culture, the need for people on Sunday morning is actually quite simple: Their minds need to be reprogrammed to the idea that God is in control, that He loves them immensely, and that nothing is impossible for Him. How quickly we forget these truths!
With the constant barrage of media messages, the average person struggles to maintain a biblical perspective about life. Our world drifts off kilter fast, but the preacher has a powerful role in bringing the listener back to the center while proclaiming the unchanging gospel.
The faithful preacher should train people to turn to the Bible when problems arise.
“All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
The question I must answer as a pastor every Monday morning is, “Are people being pointed to the Word when work dries up, the child is diagnosed or when in-laws sabotage a vacation?” The Bible is able to meet all of their needs; a pastor is not. As the preacher brings forth the Word week after week, people increasingly should be convinced that “all Scripture is God breathed” and that His Word is able to equip them for every good work.
The faithful preacher should show people how to read, study and handle the Bible for themselves.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)
The Bible is a very difficult book to read. Let’s face it, we find it easier to read a New York Times’ bestseller than Leviticus or Amos. A keen understanding of Scripture requires a certain level of skill and a special illumination of the Spirit. In corporate worship, the preacher should challenge people to cry out to God for the wisdom that flows from Isaiah, Deuteronomy and Revelation.
In addition, the preacher should demonstrate how God has penetrated his own heart with the truths He presents. His interpretation not only has been defended in the sermon, but it has been digested. The congregation sees this Word after it has been made flesh, and this heightens their interest, as well as his credibility. He handles the Word with precision.