This author does not like hats. I might wear a cap a few times during my life, but I do not like hats. This week’s article has nothing to do with literal hats, but with an English idiom related to roles and tasks.
During our short time in our ministry in Panama, this author has been missionary, preacher, and teacher, but at the same time, video editor, graphic designer, writer, event organizer, programmer, web designer, analyst, planner, social media community manager, translator, children entertainer, proofreader, cameraman, photographer, counselor, waiter, janitor, and certainly, I cannot remember others while I write.
Do not get me wrong, I am not complaining about it, I really enjoy to do it. I am sure there are many preachers around the world in the same situation than me.
Brother Keith A. Mosher, Sr., one of my beloved mentors and instructors since we started our journey at Memphis School of Preaching, sometimes quote a thought I shared once at the school’s chapel,
“I came to the school to learn how to be a preacher, and realized that what I must be is a servant.”
During this year’s graduation ceremony, brother Mosher said,
“I want to remind you tonight of the words of I Timothy 4:16. There is a big difference in the work that you do and the one that an elder does. The elders were told to take heed unto themselves and unto the flock (Acts 20:28), you [preachers, MR] are told to take heed unto yourselves and unto the doctrine, that is the difference. We are not sending you out of here to take the oversight of any congregation, that is not your job.”
Sometimes, we, preachers, are overwhelmed in things to do, and sadly, forget what our purpose is, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). We cannot forget that, we must never forget that. When we preach, it is not about the latest news, or the experience of our lives, or how a member of the church sinned and we want to show him or her off for what he or she did (if you as a preacher are doing that, you need to get back on track and realize that that is not what you are supposed to do). There are recent events that need to be cited in our sermons, some experiences of our lives that can help to give that personal touch to our message, and sins that need to be rebuked and reproved, but what we must preach is THE WORD. Our sermons need to be filled with the Word of God. Our brethren and visitors dedicated that time of the day to come and worship God and they deserve to hear what God says through His Word, the Bible.
Did you ever hear at your workplace about the differences between a leader and a boss? This author did, several times. You can do a search on Google, and you will find several graphic arts and articles on the differences between these two “titles”. One of them is that a “boss” is dependent on authority and position, while the leader is independent.
What happens when a congregation does not have elders? That is very common in Latin America countries. The local preacher needs to be reminded, as brother Mosher did, of the task he must do, but also, that, in that kind of cases, he is a leader, not a boss. A preacher is not the one who set commandments, but the one who set the example.
It is not about what the preacher wants to do or to say, but what the congregation needs. It is not about giving our own opinion and consider it a decision and an order, but a suggestion and an opportunity to get the congregation involved in the work. Our brethren need direction, and that direction is found in the word of God, not in the opinion of the preacher, or, sometimes, in the opinion of a brother that wants to become the “boss”. The church already has a head and that head is Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:20-23). The church is not a monster and therefore there is no reason for additional heads. Let us preach the Bible, as simple as it sounds, and we will see the results. Our actions, in several ways, says more than our own words.
Preachers, this advice is for you, do what you preach! This is one of the many things this author needs to remind himself every day, why? because the word of God clearly states,
“My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:1-2).
If we preach about something and do the opposite, what is going to be our reputation? How our brethren will look at us? What idea about the church will be in the minds of the community? I do not want to be condemned, much less to be a greater condemnation to someone else and myself. I am sure that you, my dear reader, do not want it either. That is why it is so important to preach, teach, and do what God tells us to do and not what our “self-wisdom” attempts to trick us to do.
“How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver! The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul. Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud” (Proverbs 16:16-19).
While this author might never wear a hat, he is thankful to our heavenly Father on having the blessing and opportunity to serve Him as much as he can. This author does not like to tell the brethren “GO” but rather “Let US Go”. Dear brethren, let us go, together, to heaven. Let us work together to be there. Let us understand that God wants that unity in us. Let us realize that we, together, must grow spiritually, and that the way to do it is by studying God’s Word and serve not only each another, but to our families, communities, countries, and be the example that they need to realize on “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15). They will be able to be part of such a blessing when they finally decide to put off the old man and put on the new man (Ephesians 4:22-24) by seeing the new men and women in which we become because of our faith and obedience to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Some of us might not be a preacher who stands in the pulpit and delivers a message to the congregation, but we can preach and teach the Word wherever we go,
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:16-17).
The preacher, my dear brethren, is a servant, just like you and me. There will be times when he will make mistakes, just like you and me. There will be times when he will need prayers for him and his family, just like you and me. There will be times when he will need words of encouragement, just like you and me. There will be times, a lot of times, when he will need to hear “I am with you, brother”, just like you and me. To be a preacher is just one of our many tasks to do, let us do it wisely and with gratitude.
If you have a couple of minutes available, please pray for your preacher and his family, and also include this servant and his family. We might not ask for it often, but we surely need it and love it. The preacher, his family, and we will appreciate it greatly.
God bless you!