Jump Start # 1575
2 Timothy 4:5 “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
This week we are discussing preachers and preaching. Our verse today is the premier passage for preachers. There is a seriousness to their work (be sober). There is a toughness and courage that they need (endure hardship). They need to do their work (do the work of an evangelist).
The preacher doesn’t run the church. In too many places, the preacher does the work of the elders, the secretary, the maintenance man, and the one who orders and stocks all the supplies. The poor preacher is so busy doing the work of others that he has no time to do the work of an evangelist. The work in the kingdom involves all of us and we all have our roles.
Today, we focus upon those two words, “endure hardship.” No one likes “hardships.” We try to avoid them at all costs. It is because of hardships that some switch jobs, mates and responsibilities.
There are hardships that come with preaching. Not everyone likes the message of Jesus. Some folks don’t want to be moved, changed or challenged. Some are happy doing nothing, going nowhere, and leaving no footprints for others to follow.
I fear that some preachers are a bit thin in the “enduring” department. It doesn’t take much and they are upset, complaining, whining and ready to move. Endure, preacher. Endure. Remember the prophets. Remember Jeremiah. Remember John the Baptist. This enduring takes time and faith and a whole bunch of patience. It’s easy for the young preacher to get so discouraged. Boy, I’ve been there. Many times. The young people are a mess. The young couples seem too busy for the Lord. The senior citizens are stuck in their ways. Woe is me, the preacher cries. Why am I here? He dreams of wonderful congregations where everything is great and running like a watch. But here he feels stuck. He feels like an outsider. He doesn’t feel included. He feels that everyone is his critic. Sound familiar, preacher? Been there. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe you are there to help turn the direction of that place. Maybe through your teaching and your example, the people can learn, get stronger and become what the Lord wants. Don’t leave because things are not good. They need you. They need someone who understands. They need someone to hold the line with the Lord.
In some places, it’s not the young folks that need changing, but the leaders. Stubborn elders who are stuck on auto pilot do not see that they are killing the life of a congregation. Preacher, help those men. Have Bible studies with them. Show them Ezekiel 34 and John 10. Look at shepherding from God’s perspective.
Hardships. You will have them. Endure. Put up with them. Don’t drop out and run. Don’t throw in the towel. They need you. They need what you can teach them. Endure. Endure. Endure.
Now, let me say something to shepherds or elders. Far too many young preachers get discouraged because of you. Shame on any of us if we cause a young preacher to become so discouraged that he gives up preaching. These young men are full of energy and ideas. Listen to them. Don’t discount them because they are young. Shame on you if you do. They may need some guidance, but listen to them. Get these young preachers what they need to do their work. Some of them are duct taping worn out copy machines that should have been thrown away decades ago. We have the latest and greatest at work and at home, but we use garage sale junk to let our preachers work with. Get with it, men. Black and white is 1970’s. Get color. Get the men what they need to do their work. Don’t limit them. Don’t hold them back because you are afraid to spend some money. Put some money in the work there.
Shepherds, when a young preacher presents an idea to you, have the decency to get back with him. One constant complaint I hear, is that suggestions are made and the elders don’t say, yes, or no. They say, “We’ll get back to you on that.” And, then they never do. The ideas just vanish in thin air. Do you realize what this does to the heart of a young preacher? If you are not going to do it, tell him and explain why. If you said, ‘We’ll get back to you,” then do it! Shame on you, when you don’t. These young guys are pouring their lives into the work there. At least have the decency to support them, praise them, help them, and give them a chance. The breaking point of most of us is when we feel the leadership is not supportive, moving or caring. Some shepherds ought to give serious thought to stepping down. Some are so busy traveling the world, growing a company, seeing the grandkids, that they don’t have time for the church. They are names on a letterhead and that’s about it. We expect the preacher to do his work, and he should. We ought to expect the same from God’s shepherds. Either shepherd or get out of the way! The list of discouraged preachers I could name here is very, very long. What is tearing them up are elders who are content with doing as little as possible. Have you shepherds ever sat down and just had a heart to heart chit chat with your preacher? Have you ever asked him, “What can we do to make your work better?” Have you?
Hardships come. Some come because we are humans. Some come because we are Christians. Some come because some are preachers. Have thick skin, Mr. Preacher. Folks who would never ever give a lesson, can be experts about preaching. Just thank them, and carry on. Some who have never studied a passage, can blast away in a Bible class, discounting everything you have just said. Carry on, Mr. Preacher.
Very few places, if any, would list the salary of someone on the bulletin board where anyone and everyone can see what you make. The size of your house, the clothing you wear, the type of car you drive will be analyzed through the lens, “are we paying you too much?” Carry on, Mr. Preacher.
You are expected to sit with every family through every surgery, be at every ball game the young people play, preach every funeral, go to all the graduation parties, do every wedding, and never make a mistake. Carry on, Mr. Preacher.
You are expected to be the first to arrive at the church building and the last to leave. Always. Carry on, Mr. Preacher.
If your ties are too flashy, you’ll hear about it. If you preach too long, you’ll hear about it. If you use too many stories, you’ll hear about it. If you talk too fast or too slow, you’ll hear about it. If it’s too hot in the church building, even though you have nothing to do about that, you’ll hear about it. You hear those complaining about the mothers who don’t take their babies out. What you are supposed to do, I have no idea. You’ll hear rumblings that the church isn’t growing, as if it is all your responsibility. You’ll have every typo in the bulletin and on the slides pointed out to you. If the grass hasn’t been cut at the church house, someone will tell you, as if that is your job. If someone is always late, they’ll complain to you about it. Hardships. Carry on, Mr. Preacher.
You are doing the Lord’s work. Don’t get sidetracked. Don’t get overwhelmed by these things. Keep doing your work. Teach and preach and teach and preach. God bless you for what you do.
Endure, man. Remember the Lord!