I awakened the other morning with this scenario playing in my head.
A young friend was being called into the ministry. He was trying to get his bearings. In my dream—if that’s what it was—I was saying to him, “Please learn to study. Learn to discipline yourself. Because we don’t need another lazy preacher.”
So, as I come to full consciousness, I’m concerned about lazy preachers?
Wonder where that came from.
Do we have lazy preachers? Of course. Always have had and always will have. You see laziness in ministers in a hundred ways, including some of these…
–A refusal to study. Some lift entire sermons from books and preach them. Others scan the Internet in search of some obscure message they hope no one in their congregation has seen, print it out, work on learning it and deliver it the next Sunday. (That seems like more work than if they did their own!) Others rehash old messages from their files. Others simply re-preach favorite themes.
–An inability to control their passions. Their hobbies claim the bulk of their time and attention. Some become golf pros. Others develop a love for travel and soon are leading mission trips and excursions to the Holy Land in order to get out of the hard work of pastoring, but while appearing spiritual at the same time. Some become computer experts. And I’ve known more than one addicted to television watching. Lord, help us.
–A lack of planning. Lazy pastors don’t have time to meet regularly with their staffs, have no long-range purpose for their preaching ministry, and let the calendar and the telephone dictate their schedules.
–An undisciplined spirit. They retaliate, carry grudges, respond angrily when challenged and shade the truth to make themselves look better.
I wish I could say this is rare. It isn’t.
The pastor who serves well will have to learn to do a number of hard things…
One. To study well. Ideally, we all will have acquired this skill in junior high, but most did not. Some will have to learn the basic things of studying even in their middle years. Better then than never.
Studying well means pulling together the basic books and commentaries on Scripture. Studying well means blocking off sufficient time several days each week, and at least a full week annually, for nothing but digging into the Word. Studying well means protecting your spirit, protecting your place of study from interruptions except for emergencies and getting the support of your office team and spouse. Studying well means constantly working to learn better skills, to improve your knowledge, to be more effective.
The pastor who loves God’s word and lives in it has much to offer God’s people.
Two. To learn the doctrines of the faith. The pastor should master Romans and Hebrews, and as much of Revelation as he can. He should understand enough church history to recognize ancient heresies when they come to church in modern garb, and know how to deal with them. No one expects him to be an expert theologian, but a theologian he must be. Likewise, he is required to be an apologist, to know how to defend the Truth against error.