As a school counselor, I occasionally give classroom presentations on various topics. Today I was giving a presentation on anger management to a sixth-grade class. I went through my series of slides, group presentations, class activities and normal rhetoric. At the end I usually allow for comments — not questions — from the class. One little bespeckled, freckled, blond haired and new-braces in-the-mouth boy timidly raised his hand. “Charley, what is your comment?” I asked.
“Dr. Cleaver, you oughta be a preacher!”
I took that as a compliment from Charley — obviously, I already am a preacher. Secretly, I always wanted to be a minister. It seemed to me ministers made more money than preachers.
Anyway, when I talked to Charley to get some clarification on what he meant, I learned even more. Basically, he told me what he meant was that I was clear and to the point, enthusiastic, not boring, he was able to understand the session and the conversation helped him to think about and change his behavior.
Even though he is only in the sixth grade, Charley’s comments probably would be a good gauge to measure a lot of things about preachers because his words are true in our day and in our churches. Let me follow up on Charley’s comments with a few “off the top of my head but bottom of my heart” comments:
• Preaching is a high privilege and hard work. The work of preaching is not for the faint-hearted, the seasonal, nor the unqualified laborer. Being a preacher is a tough life. A preacher’s family might have it even rougher.
• Probably the most important thing about preaching is the process itself. The good preacher is a lifelong learner of his craft. Pulpit presence is an ever-expanding experience. When one is full of the material, it is easier to preach with results — like Charley’s comments indicated of my classroom session.
• Getting people to change a lifestyle or do something they are not accustomed to doing is something only God’s miracle of regeneration and persuasion can do. Jesus did not win all He spoke to in His ministry. However, He did make His point with crystal clarity about life choices.
• Preachers come in many different outward appearances. Some have “big hair.” Some are on TV. Some have a red Bible and shoes — if they are evangelists. I formerly thought only full-time preachers were really doing His will. I’ve found out there are a lot of good preachers out there who are bi-vocational.
Father, You are the One who calls, equips, empowers, sustains and rewards those who are called preachers in our churches. Please send us more who are clear. Give us more who are able to speak with great clarity to the needs of the people. Lord, send preachers to those who are hurting and need Your solace. Send those with the words of evangelism to those who want to know the way of life. Propel into our nation the ones You have chosen for this time of crisis and time of national stirring. Let us who are pew sitters learn to pray for our preachers that their inner man may be strengthened and that they may be full of Christ. Let us who would criticize first
give our financial resources to the support of their families.
Father, thank you for preachers who preach the beautiful gospel of Christ. We are glad and our souls rejoice that, through men like these in our lives, we have heard and believed to the salvation of our souls.
(Originally published in the Dec. 19, 2001 issue of the Baptist Trumpet.)