For all of those who have been consigned to preach the Word of God on a regular basis, it is a most supreme privilege. We stand as a mouthpiece before the people of God, inviting them into the Scriptures in order to be transformed; we should be compelled to ask, “Why would you call me, Lord?”
Perhaps, we would do well to enter into that role every week with greater reverence and humility—as a reminder, as we walk to the pulpit that we are the weak link, and that we are only invited to be a part of something greater. Our days in that capacity are numbered; our tenure is only so long as God sees fit to grant it; our stewardship is to be faithful to the ministry of the Word.
Let me explain. I remember hearing a gifted speaker boast of his ability to “whip off” a story, or a sermon absent of the Holy Spirit’s influence. He touted his natural ability to draw people in through his use of narratives and storytelling. Indeed, he was good; and yet, I would never choose to attend his church. I fear he had mistaken himself as a preacher, rather than the entertainer that he was; and he had considered himself “all that, and a bag of chips” to the church.
The office of pastor is sacred, sermons are sacred. What makes them so, in part, is that the Word of God is being used to conform people to the image of Christ. As I understand it, the three greatest influences in the process of the ministry of the Word are: The Word of God—inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17); the Holy Spirit Himself as He prepares the soil of the hearts of those in attendance (John 16); and the messenger up front—the human element at the pulpit. That means that no matter how hard I try, no matter how great of a homiletician, orator, or speaker I am; I will always be the weak link in that equation. But, … I am a divinely appointed link: Divine Perfection-Divine Perfection-Human frailty.
Any given Sunday across the scope of America will see hundreds of pastors in thousands of churches speaking to millions of people. People spanning every walk of life are pouring through the doors to worship God, and to hear what will be said from the revered pulpit. They are seated, waiting to be served, not knowing what’s on the menu. And the tools of shaping emerge to conform all those in attendance to the image of Christ.
Upon blocks of stone in the pews, the chisel, the anvil, and the mallet work in concert to strike with precision to match the image in the divine mind. The Word, the Spirit, and the human agency combine to address the soil of the heart, to work well-driven nails into the soul (Ecclesiastes 12:11).
The foundation of the Word: solid, tested, and true.
The conviction of the Spirit cutting deep and pure.
And yet still, the compromises of human speech and heart encumber the delivery.
Preachers focus so much upon introductions, illustrations, exegesis, and delivery, and well we should, we want to get it right. But, should we not be as concerned about the heart, our hearts?
On my best day, on our best days, we are the compromised component in this process.
Of all the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, every one of them was “beset with weakness” (Hebrews 5:2). But if the arrow finds its mark, when the nails are well-driven, then the congregant should depart the service both limping and leaping. Limping because of the surgery to the soul, and leaping in joy for the process of sanctification—the ministry of the Word.
For all of those who have been consigned to preach the Word of God we are in good company.
Moses. Jonah. Paul. Peter. Were broken vessels.
Moses was able to eventually help in leading the chosen entourage to the promised land.
Anything happened in Nineveh in spite of Jonah.
Paul had the global influence that he did.
Peter ushered thousands into the Kingdom at Pentecost.
Moses was the weak link
Jonah was the weak link.
Paul was the weak link…
Peter, routinely was the weak link.
Billy was the weak link.
Calvin. Wesley. Spurgeon, and Whitfield—all weak links in the equation.
And, Kelly is the weak link.
And I am in good company.
It is one thing to be the broken vessel, it is another altogether to know it. It’s ok to be broken. It is good to administer the Word well. But, we do well not to glean the credit for those well-driven nails (Hebrews 5:4).
As we approach the pulpit this Sunday, maybe it’s okay if our knees are a little shaky, our throat a little dry, and our palms a little sweaty; it is an awesome responsibility and privilege. It’s okay if we are not “all that and a bag of chips.” God has allowed us the blessing of bringing His Word to His people. We should not hold that lightly.
“In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs. The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly. The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd” (Ecclesiastes 12:9-11).
[The Shepherd’s Echo is a previously published TheShepherdsPen]
A Special Note:
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