It was the last day of the revival. I had just finished my ninth sermon of the meeting. I stood to give my lasting remarks. And I said what I was thinking.
Usually, I am able to mind my own business when I preach away from home. But since I had no intention of ever returning to that church, I took a shot at them.
Thanks for putting up with my preaching this week. And for all of your kindness and encouragement. But all the glory goes to God. Any human credit goes to the church I serve.
They give me time to think, read and pray. They provide the resources I need to study. And they only demand that I be ready to teach and preach. If I am not a good preacher, shame on me. Any church can have good preaching if they take care of their pastor and encourage him.
I had been there for a week. And the pastor didn’t have time to host me.
He worked part-time to make ends meet. He did funerals and hospital visits every day I was there. He had one meeting after another.
I was exhausted just watching him. In the process, he was discouraged, his marriage was in trouble, and his children resentful of the ministry.
Then it happened.
One of the deacons slyly criticized his preaching in front of me, suggesting his seasoned pastor should take preaching lessons from me, who am in my early 20s.
I had preached for men that I wasn’t sure could read. But their members would tell me, “I enjoyed your preaching! But you can’t touch my pastor.” That’s love. This deacon’s remark, and his fellow deacons’ agreement, was just cruel.
The pastor was a good preacher. He was just in a bad situation, at a historic church that thought too highly of itself.
I had to say something.
And I did.
Sometimes pastors struggle in preaching because they don’t take their pulpit work seriously. Others struggle in preaching because they struggle alone.
But good preaching is a partnership between pastor and congregation, pulpit and pew, the one who preaches and the one who listens.
The pastor preaches to help those in the pew. But the congregation can and should help the one in the pulpit, as well.
There was a vocal old lady in my first church. When I was preaching well, she would say, “Help us, Lord.” But when I was flunking, she would say, “Help him, Lord.” But there are better ways the pew can help the pulpit and motivate the pastor to be a better preacher. Here are seven …
Pray for your pastor.
I mean, pray specifically for his preaching. Pray that he will have the time to study and will use it well. Pray the Lord will open his eyes and give him understanding (Ps. 119:18, 24). Pray that he will guard his life and doctrine (1 Tim. 4:16).
Pray that he will rightly handle the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). Pray that the Lord will keep his heart and mind free from sinful distractions. Pray that God will give him power in the pulpit.
Give him time to study.
Members love pastors who are always available. But it is not good if he is always available. He will be more help to you if he shuts himself up to pray and study.
You want a pastor who has something to say rather than someone who has to say something. This requires times to prepare. Give it to him.