The Work and Craft of Preaching

Essay 5

What should a preacher do? In brief, here are some of my ideas about the work of a preacher. To begin, he must do as the Lord explicitly said in His holy word. Thus, he must be a man of the Book. In my view, God’s preacher needs to read incessantly God’s holy book. For me, I spend three to four hours a day reading God’s book and taking notes. Some years ago I heard Robert Taylor mention that he reads the New Testament once every month; that is nine chapters a day. Since that time I have made it mine habit also. There are many days where I will get as many as twenty chapters per day read, others days I am fortunate to get five. I also want to read the Old Testament each day; thus, I made myself a schedule of eight chapters a day. This takes time – at least for me. Unfortunately, I have not met that schedule’s demand of the Old Testament of late. I am fortunate to get three. Strangely enough, I feels as if I am dirty when then occurs; I hate it! All of this buttresses the idea of the preacher being a man of the book.

A second thing under the umbrella of a preacher’s work is sermon preparation. How much time do you think a preacher ought to take to prepare sermons? Do you think it should be one hour for each minute in the pulpit? If a preacher takes thirty minutes to preach one sermon and he preaches two on Sunday – that is sixty hours! Perhaps you think he needs no particular preparation because God’s Spirit will move him to preach. Those who have come to accept this notion of preparation are confused in other areas of biblical understanding as well! The time it takes for a preacher to prepare sermons is strictly a matter of judgment. Whatever time it takes, he must prepare his sermons for the benefit of the congregation where he is preaching. His sermons must be heavy on Bible expositions and application in order to help the saints understand and live life better in God’s direction today than one did yesterday.

A third work of the preacher, in my view, is that he must be a Barnabas. People need encouragement, and a preacher is in good position to be an encourager. Admittedly, there are some brethren that preachers would just as soon not have to interact with even on the level of eye contact. That’s not a possibility, however. Each person addresses life differently. For some, life’s pressures are converging and the pressure can be almost too much to bear. Encouragement for anyone can be helpful, but it may be especially helpful from the preacher. For some, life’s pressures are not all that oppressive, but even these people can use encouragement from time to time. When Jesus said to His apostles that He is the way, the truth, and the life, do you think those were encouraging words? I do.

A fourth work of a preacher is as a counselor. Counseling is like walking on ice; it is an area that is treacherous even at its thickest point. Treacherous though it may be, it is inevitable that the preacher will be approached for some guidance. When I am approached I will always say at some point in the visit that I can help them understand what the Bible says. I am not a trained counselor, and I am not particularly interested in becoming one more than the Lord has already given in His word and trained me (2 Peter 1:3). A preacher, though, can be of great use when one comes to him for guidance. He has opportunity to help them understand the Lord’s will, or to make better application of the Lord’s word that they already understand. The point for the preacher is to direct those in need of help to the Lord.